What is the definition of Marketing?

This post is by Darren Woolley, Founder of TrinityP3With his background as analytical scientist and creative problem solver, Darren brings unique insights and learnings to the marketing process. He is considered a global thought leader on agency remuneration, search and selection and relationship optimisation.

Earlier this year I was invited to guest lecture at the EMBA course at the Sydney Business School, University of Wollongong. The topic title was marketing today and I was interested to know how this group of business executives and tomorrow’s leaders defined marketing.

What is marketing

As Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, I was surprised at the range of definitions often raised in discussions with members of the institute and the diversity of opinions even on the board.

A Google search of definitions of marketing led me to this collection of definitions by Heidi Cohen, that are quite comprehensive and I picked through these to identify particular themes on marketing definitions that I used as a stimulus for the participants in the EMBA course.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting any of these are wrong, I am more interested in the diversity of views on what is the definition of marketing and one that as a profession we are able to rally around if there is any chance to have marketing recognised as a profession in the same way that we recognise lawyers, architects, doctors, accountants and the like.

Perhaps agreement on defining the profession of marketing will be a step in the right direction to answer Mark Ritson’s recent question “Shouldn’t an expert in marketing be trained in marketing?”.

Here are some of the definitions collated by Heidi Cohen for your consideration. But more importantly I would like to hear your definition by leaving a comment at the bottom. Mine is here too. Right at the end.

The AMA says marketing is

According to the American Marketing Association (AMA) Board of Directors, 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.

The father of modern marketing says…

Dr. Philip Kotler defines marketing as “the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit. Marketing identifies unfulfilled needs and desires. It defines, measures and quantifies the size of the identified market and the profit potential. It pinpoints which segments the company is capable of serving best and it designs and promotes the appropriate products and services.”

Marketing is communication and connection

Marketing is traditionally the means by which an organization communicates to, connects with, and engages its target audience to convey the value of and ultimately sell its products and services.

However, since the emergence of digital media, in particular social media and technology innovations, it has increasingly become more about companies building deeper, more meaningful and lasting relationships with the people that they want to buy their products and services.

The ever-increasingly fragmented world of media complicates marketers’ ability connect and, at the same, time presents incredible opportunity to forge new territory.

Julie Barile – Vice President of eCommerce, Fairway Market

Is the prelude to sales

Marketing includes research, targeting, communications (advertising and direct mail) and often public relations.

Marketing is to sales as plowing is to planting for a farmer—it prepares an audience to receive a direct sales pitch.

Mary Ellen Bianco – Director Marketing & Communications, Getzler Henrich & Associates LLC

Is managing the customer experience

Professor Philip Kotler explained that marketing was “meeting the needs of your customer at a profit.”

For me that definition extends beyond just communicating product features. Marketers are responsible for a 360-degree experience. For example, in the social media world, a customer’s Twitter needs may differ from her needs to “play with the brand” in terms of a social game promotion.

Every customer touch-point from customer service to sales to accounting and more are part of the “new marketing.”

Toby Bloomberg – Bloomberg Marketing/Diva Marketing

Marketing is simply A, B, C

Marketing when done well is (a) the strategy of the business – its value proposition, go to market strategy, and brand positioning and image to the world.

Marketing when not done well is (b) an endless checklist of advertising and promotional to-dos that can never be completed.

Marketing in the twenty-first century must be (c) largely, but not entirely, measurable and accountable around driving business goals.

Marketing when done brilliantly is driven by (a) includes a small, disciplined subset of (b), and is steeped in a culture of (c).

Matt Blumberg – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Return Path

Marketing is brand building

Marketing is building your brand, convincing people that your brand (meaning your product/service/company) is the best and protecting the relationships you build with your customers.

Marjorie Clayman, Director of Client Development, Clayman Advertising, Inc.

Marketing is brand storytelling

Marketing is how you tell your story to attract customers, partners, investors, employees and anyone else your company interacts with.

It’s the script that helps users decide if they’ll welcome you into their lives as a staple, nice-to-have or necessary annoyance.

It’s the way that everyone interacts with your brand.

It’s impression, first, last and everything in between.

Jeff Cutler – Executive Vice President and General Manager, Vitals.com

Marketing is everything

Marketing is making connections between customers with your products, brand(s) and business, such that they are likely to buy from you.

Or as Regis McKenna said, “Marketing is everything.”

Sam Decker – Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Mass Relevance

Marketing is outward communications

Marketing is essentially involved in outward communication, in promoting the corporate goals of the company it is serving. It is the process through which companies accelerate returns by aligning all communication objectives (advertising, marketing, sales, etc), into one department to more efficiently achieve the overall corporate goals.

Antoine Didienne – President, Vavavida

Marketing is not sales

Marketing is branding, naming, pricing, and the bridge between paid and earned media. It is NOT sales.

Gini Dietrich – Chief Executive Officer, Arment Dietrich, Inc.

Marketing is customer focused

Marketing today is finally customer-focused. Social media made that happen. Markets are once again conversations. Marketing is about knowing the market, creating the right product, creating desire for that product and letting the right people know you have it. The old adage that says, “If you build a better mousetrap people will beat a path to your door” doesn’t hold true without marketing. You might indeed have a better mousetrap, but if people don’t know you have it, and they don’t know where your door is, there will be no path beating and no conversation going on.

Sally Falkow – APR, PRESSfeed

Marketing is a list of disciplines

Marketing is the umbrella term covering research, branding, PR, advertising, direct response, promotions, loyalty, demand generation, etc.

Anne Holland – Publisher, WhichTestWon.com

Marketing is buzz words

Marketing should be channel agnostic, data driven and customer-centric. This provides measurable results leveraging the marketplace at large; responding to consumer/business interests and needs.

Sue R.E. Germanian, SVP and Chief Communications Officer, DMA

Marketing is a conversation

Marketing is the conversation between a company or brand and a consumer that ultimately leads to brand recall, preference or a transaction. In today’s socially networked world, that conversation is being disintermediated by word of mouth referrals. Traditional marketers will have to work harder to get ahead of and to influence this trend.

Josh Glantz – VP & General Manager, PCH Online-Publishers Clearing House

Marketing is storytelling

Marketing is anything you create or share that tells your story.

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs

Definitive Marketing

Marketing is ultimately responsible to create enterprise value via the brand, the face of the business strategy. To do so, marketing identifies the target, attractive high growth segments. Marketing drives the organization to define the single minded, differentiated brand value proposition and deliver on it every single day across every touch point. Marketing ensures the delivery of a compelling, differentiated offer to that target and proposition. And, marketing measures and improves the consumers/businesses/partner satisfaction, and the brand health and strength.   Marketing is the single point of accountability for growth, identifying and delivering on new customers, new offerings & new market profitable growth.

Cathy Halligan – SVP, Sales & Marketing, PowerReviews

Marketing is knowing your customer

Marketing is about knowing the customer (whether current or prospective) so well that there is no question I will read your newsletter and share it with your friends, that I will carry a frequent buyer card in my wallet, and that I already interact on your Facebook page.

Ari Herzog – Policy and Communications Specialist

Marketing is art and science

Marketing is the art and science of creating, delighting and keeping customers, while making a profit and building enterprise value. Marketing integrates, formally or informally, many disciplines and every organizational function. Marketing should embrace the highest ethical standards, respect the environment, and strive to make the world a better place.

Max Kalehoff – Vice President of Marketing, Clickable

Marketing is making a profit

Profitable marketing is reminding likely-to-buy prospects of the value of your products/services in meeting their needs, over and over, at an acquisition cost lower than your allowable acquisition cost.

Jerry Kaup – MemberLink.org

Marketing is building consumer preference

Marketing is the practice of increasing awareness, consideration, purchase/repurchase and preference for a product or service through consumer-driven benefits, advertising, packaging, placement, pricing and promotions. Historically, marketing was a one-way interaction but is increasingly becoming two-way through the use and influence of social media and viral marketing which is often fuelled by the company offering the good or service.

Robin Korman, SVP, Global Loyalty and Partnerships, Wyndham Hotel Group

Marketing is multifaceted

Marketing is a strategic and tactical multifaceted process that supports sales as well as customer service and retention. The primary stages include identifying target audiences, developing a marketing/communications strategy that usually includes several methods and channels (e.g. advertising, PR, content, events/digital print, broadcast), measuring and assessing results, and constantly refining the process based on learnings and marketplace developments. Marketing can also become a feedback loop between an organization and its customers and prospects that helps to inform and shape the business going forward.

Rebecca Lieb, Author of The Truth About Search Engine Optimization

Marketing is strategic communications

Marketing is strategic communications and promotions delivered in a mix of forms, such as advertising, public relations, and direct marketing, through multiple online and offline channels, to acquire customers, retain customers, increase share of wallet and shorten the sales cycle.

Valerie Oben – President, Foxboro Consulting Inc.

Marketing IS everything

Marketing is everything a company does, from how they answer the phone, how quickly and effectively they respond to email, to how they handle accounts payable, to how they treat their employees and customers. Done right, marketing integrates a great product or service with PR, sales, advertising, new media, personal contact. In other words, marketing is not a discipline or an activity – it is everything a company is – at least if the company wants to be successful.

B.L. Ochman – President, What’s Next

Marketing is creating value

The modern definition of marketing is the practice of creating value for the mutual benefit of meeting consumer needs and business objectives. In action, that means knowing and meeting target audience/community information discovery, consumption and sharing behaviours with relevant and timely communications throughout the customer lifecycle. Those communications and relationships influence consumer behaviour to drive revenue outcomes.

Lee Odden – Chief Executive Officer, TopRank Online Marketing

Marketing is attracting and connecting

Marketing is all activities designed to attract and connect customers with the products and services they need. Includes inbound and outbound marketing tactics across all channels – one-to-one and one-to-many. Ideally, marketing fosters a long-term relationship, includes the entire customer brand experience – i.e. support and customer service. Marketing starts with the design of the product itself and extends through post purchase.

Patrick Prothe – Marketing Communications Manager, Viewpoint Construction Software

Marketing is solving pain points

Marketing is identifying the pain points of your customers, developing content and processes to best solve those pain points – which ultimately makes it easier for your customers to buy or stay customers.

Joe Pulizzi – Founder, Content Marketing Institute

Marketing is the 4Ps

Marketing is the combination of messages and programs (the 4 P’s–product/packaging, price, placement and promotion) that drive shoppers to choose your product or service over someone else’s.

Charlene Samples – Director of Marketing, Heartland Sweeteners

Marketing drives sales

Marketing is inextricably linked to sales and unless it drives a trial or sale, the effort should not be labelled ‘marketing.’ The critical steps in marketing include defining what is currently known about a business (trends, regulations, target audience, competitors), who are the target users or buyers, what are the measurable business objectives in terms of where to take that business, what is the plan to get there and what are the measures of success of initiatives defined to reach those objectives. This marketing approach can be applied whether the objective is expanding a current business or entering new markets. Each step in the marketing process is meant to move the user or buyer closer to making a buy decision.

Alexandra Tyler – VP, Branded and Social Media Marketing, Citi Global Transaction Services

Marketing builds brand relationships

Marketing builds relationships between consumers and brands. The many disciplines that go into the process, together create a brand personality designed to be compatible with the target. Marketing romances the consumer in the hopes of establishing a long term commitment. This takes persuasion and nothing moulds opinion like the third party endorsement power of PR. As Bill Gates says “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on PR.”

Deborah Weinstein – President, Strategic Objectives

My definition of marketing?

Marketing is the management of an organisation’s (brand’s) face to the market to deliver the objectives of that organisation (brand).

What do you think?

What is your definition of marketing?

Let me know your definition of marketing in the comments below. Let’s advance the conversation to see if as a profession we can agree on what is marketing?

TrinityP3’s Marketing Business Alignment service strikes at the heart of our reason for being: driving enhanced marketing performance via alignment of process and commercial purpose.

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About Darren Woolley

Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com

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