April 10, 2008

What is Marketing?

Filed under: Marketing Philosophy — Robert John Ed @ 3:36 am

Well this is bound to be an intricate and thorough meander. Defining marketing should not be that difficult, it’s just another aspect of business right? Right. Well, let’s get started with some authoritative definitions (Linked is the original extended answer, italicized is the capitulation):

Merriam-Webster: Main Entry: mar·ket·ing, Pronunciation: \ˈmär-kə-tiŋ\, Function: noun, Date: 1561
1a: the act or process of selling or purchasing in a market b: the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.

Wikipedia: Marketing is a societal process which discerns consumers’ wants, focusing on a product or service to fulfill those wants, attempting to move the consumers toward the products or services offered.

American Marketing Association: Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to the customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.

My original thought was to list out a comprehensive (and potentially exhaustive) list of what people think marketing is and derive a decent summation. I found the definitions exhausted early. The problem with these definitions are that they aren’t great at telling you a story. Marketing is extremely malleable and changes depending on what the objectives of your organization are. But these definitions are boring and incredibly nondescript. Apple is marketing. Dell is marketing. Now those two are extremely similar products who use completely different positions; but both succeeded in monumental ways. Yet those definitions can’t tell us how powerful marketing is and why it worked so well in such differentiated circumstances.

It also fails to point out the failure of LISA. Marketing works both ways. It’s belle of the ball when something good happens, but it also takes the fall when everything hits the wall. Why does marketing seem to take so much of the credit and debit of a business?

…(take a deep breath, this is when it all comes together)…

Because marketing is business. You are Tyler Durden.

Maybe it isn’t as drastic as I make it out to be. But to me, marketing is every last aspect of what you are providing your customer. That includes the product, the brand, the time in the retail store, the phone answering service and that damned automated voice you decided was more of a long term solution than a human, the cost, the materials in your product, the corporate ethos, the billing, the good feeling a person gets before, during and after they use your product. The everything that anyone on Earth has the fortune (or lack thereof) to perchance happen across your lovely little piece of commerce. I could go on.

So what’s with all the other aspects of business? Accounting, finance, engineering, legal? These are all just another facet of marketing. Marketing is your company and every part of your company is marketing. They just don’t know it. Everyone employed anywhere is marketing today.

When I was in my undergrad, it was pretty obvious what marketing was. It was product, promotion, price and place. I aced that test. Then I got out. If marketing were so easily definable and able to be turned into strategy and tactics; we’d probably live in a commercial dystopia where we were hoodwinked at every turn. The world doesn’t work like that (thankfully). So defining marketing down into a few sentences (though AMA valiantly attempted) is a fools errand. It’s all too much more.

Marketing is a philosophy. And it isn’t just one philosophy we can all subscribe to. Hopefully, I’ll be able to expound on this thought more in the coming weeks.


1 Comment »

  1. I do agree with you that most of the descriptions of marketing are plain and unispirational. I have my own take on the matter. Check out my blog @ Let me know what you think.

    Comment by kameryuksel — April 15, 2009 @ 1:05 am

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