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Why selling is merely a tip of the Iceberg called Marketing

Marketing and selling are almost opposite to each other. They differ a lot. Selling is just a small part of Marketing. Selling is not a synonym or replacement for the Marketing. Marketing is much broader and bigger than sales. Hence, we can say selling is merely a tip of the iceberg called Marketing.

Why selling is just a tip of the Marketing Iceberg?

Let’s try to understand the major difference between Selling & Marketing. This will help us to support the statement, “selling is the tip of the marketing iceberg”.

Selling is the exchange of goods for an agreed sum of money, but marketing is something more than just selling.

Definition of Selling & Marketing

  • Selling is trying or pursuing someone to sell something at a certain price.
  • Marketing is all about identifying & satisfying customer needs by providing value products and services.

Focus of Selling & Marketing

  • Selling focuses on Sales volume.
  • Marketing focuses on customer needs and satisfaction.

Strategy in Selling & Marketing

  • Selling is all about short term tactics.
  • Marketing is all about long term strategies.

What Dr Philp Kotler Says About Selling & Marketing Iceberg? 

Let’s understand his view for better clarity. What he says about iceberg theory of Marketing & Selling!

“Marketing is too often confused with selling. Selling is only the tip of the marketing iceberg. What is unseen is the extensive market investigation, the research and development of appropriate products, the challenge of pricing them right, of opening up distribution, and of letting the market know about the product.  Thus, Marketing is a far more comprehensive process than selling.” – Philip Kotler

Marketing is a far more comprehensive process than selling.

Selling Vs. Marketing: Key differences

Marketing is the commercial process of identifying consumer needs and wants and satisfying that needs by offering quality or value products or services to the consumer.

Selling Includes Tactics and Profit Only:

  • Mostly, selling focus on tactics and profit only. This is shortsightedness and after some time businesses may collapse. It lacks integration, inclusiveness and vision.
  • Selling tries to sell a product already produced by the company at any cost but with profit.
  • In the long run, selling is not a good strategy for any business. Marketer or manufacturer tries to sell products forcefully. Hence the team selling products called salesforce:)

Marketing Includes Four Important Elements for Products:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place
  • Promotion

Marketing has 3 more P’s for services, also called extended P’s of marketing.

  • Physical Evidence
  • Process
  • People.

We can define Marketing and Selling precisely to understand both the concepts.

The Official Definition of Marketing Speaks A Lot:

There is a new definition of Marketing Approved in July 2017 by the American Marketing Association (AMA):

“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

How comprehensive and inclusive this definition is! Now you can understand marketing is a really really broader and strategical concept as compared to the selling.


Marketing has many functions and selling is one of those many functions. Selling is a very small part or function of Marketing and it cannot replace the term Marketing entirely.

Let’s simplify and sum up. Consider, Marketing is a huge iceberg. Now, compare the broader and strategical concept of Marketing with the narrow and tactical approach of selling. So, we can conclude that selling is merely a tip of the iceberg called marketing.

You may also like to check Marketing MCQs.