How Defining Marketing Is Like Defining Porn.
Marketing is about action and making things happen. It’s about looking at and establishing objectives, strategies and tactics. It’s not about hope, or the feeling of expectation and the desire for a certain thing to happen, as in hoping to increase sales versus a major competitor. Think action verb.
Most people leap to marketing tactics, the “stuff” marketing does, such as advertising, PR and events. But marketing is nothing without strategy. In fact at Brian’s firm, they live by the mantra, “Strategy always comes before tactics.”
Marketing is about little details and big details. The little details can make big things happen.
So how do people define marketing? Let’s take a look some definitions, starting with visionary Peter Drucker.
Marketing is the process by which companies engage customers, build strong customer relationships, and create customer value in order to capture value from customers in return. (Principles of Marketing, 17e, Kotler and Armstrong, 2018). This definition has emerged out of the current “customer” focus movement. What is easily missed is that marketing is a process, not a thing.
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. (Definition approved by the American Marketing Association, Board of Directors, July 2013. This definition features the term “value” which has been used and abused a lot in recent years. Note the word “institutions”. Makes this definition feel a bit old and stodgy, though it is still moving in the right direction.
Marketing Management is the art and science of choosing target markets and building profitable relationships with them. (Principles of Marketing, 17e, Kotler and Armstrong, 2018). While the 2 Marketing Guyz believe marketing management is much more than targeting customers and building relationships, the concept of targeting is one of the most important functions that happens in marketing.
The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him (her/it) and sells itself. (Peter F. Drucker). Another Drucker quote. Drucker simplifies things in this definition, which is good. We hate verbose, stuffy definitions. But the key point in this one is that it ties understanding the customer to delivery the to them the right product. Critical to successful marketing.
Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy the perceived needs, wants, and objectives of individuals and organizations. (Contemporary Advertising, 14e, Arens, Weigold, Arens, 2013). This definition leverages the classic “4 P’s” of marketing and kind of shoehorns them into a definition. It works, but it feels a bit like the sociology department was included in it’s formation. If we had classes in Macro Marketing and Micro Marketing, this would be in the Macro course.
Marketing is the performance of activities that seek to accomplish an organization’s objectives by anticipating customer or client needs and directing a flow of need-satisfying goods and services from producer to customer or client. (Basic Marketing, A Marketing Planning Approach, 19 Edition, Perreault, Cannon and McCarthy, 2014). While marketing includes these actions, this one seems to skip over the research, development, analysis, and strategy that comes first.
The purpose of Marketing is to sell more stuff to more people more often for more money in order to make more profit. (Sergio Zyman). Serio is a marketing voice, and the man credited with the introduction of New Coke (a great case study we will blog on at a future time.) And while some would argue this is overly simplistic, it captures the vibe of real marketing better than others. When we are working in the marketing trenches, this is what we do.
The Mantra of Marketing: Marketing’s job is to create, communicate and deliver value to a target market at a profit. Market Management needs to “Create Value,” “Communicate Value,” and “Deliver Value.” (Kotler at London Business Forum). Classic use (and maybe overuse) of the term value. To better understand it, simply insert the words “stuff customers want” wherever you see the word “value.”
Marketing Mix: The set of tactical marketing tool — product, price, place and promotion — that the firm blends to produce the response it wants in the target market. (Principles of Marketing, 17e, Kotler and Armstrong, 2018). This is marketing as was defined 30-40 years ago, when it was emerging as a bona fide business process and concept. The 4 P’s. Back then you memorized it, and you got an A on the test.
The Marketing Concept is a philosophy. It makes the customer, and the satisfaction of his or her needs, the focal point of all business activities. It is driven by senior managers who are passionate about delighting their customers. Marketing is not only much broader than selling; it is not a specialized activity at all. It encompasses the entire business. It is the whole business seen from the point of view of the final result, that is, from the customer’s point of view. Concern and responsibility for marketing must therefore permeate all areas of the enterprise. (Peter F. Drucker). Wow. A lot said there. Drucker is good, and this one is worth reading again. And again.
Marketing is getting the right product or service to the right people (target market), at the right time, at the right place, at the right price, with the right partners, using right communication, promotion, passion and presentation. This is Larry’s definition. He uses this a lot, and it’s a pretty darn good definition. It cuts through the crap, describes the goals, the strategies, and the actions. We like it.
Marketing is everything that happens between the customer and the brand. This one is Brian’s. H uses this one a lot. It’s simple, but it is inclusive.
If you are a student of marketing, and we’re all students of marketing, this discussion and these definitions should give you an idea of what marketing is. But marketing is a living, breathing process. It changes from one moment to the next, but it is the lifeblood of a successful business.
We once had a student say, “It sounds like pornography, hard to define accurately, but easy to spot when you see it.”
 American Marketing Association, “About AMA: Definition of Marketing,” https://www.ama.org/AboutAMA/Pages/Definition-of-Marketing.aspx (cited May 28, 2014)