What is Marketing?

Hello there, my name is Martin Henley this is the WTF marketing jargon busting series and in this, episode number two, I’m going to be answering the big question – what is marketing?

In addressing the question what is marketing? there are eight things that I want to share with you. We are going to address the question doesn’t everybody know what marketing is

already? we’re going to go to dictionary.com for a definition; we’re going to need a better definition; I’m going to share with you the best definition that I have ever heard, I’m going to give you my definition before we start thinking about whether you need marketing, how you do marketing and what you can expect in return for your marketing investments.

Let’s get this started Ricky.

Doesn’t everybody know what marketing is already?

In addressing the question what marketing probably the first question that comes up is doesn’t everybody know what marketing is already?

You would imagine given that you can study an MBA in marketing, given that there are tens of thousands of people all around the world employed in marketing, given that every business that wants to be successful should be investing in marketing you would imagine that people would know what marketing means. 

However, if we believe Google they will tell us that there are six thousand six hundred searches every month for the term what is marketing. If you go to YouTube you will see that the most popular video called what is marketing has 1.5 million views. When I stand up in front of groups of people to teach them digital marketing I make a point of asking them the question what is marketing because you would imagine if they’re studying digital marketing they would know at least what marketing is, but they don’t know.

What is going on that people don’t know what marketing is?

The question now is – what is going on that people don’t know what marketing is?

If we go to dictionary.com the first thing they will tell us about marketing is that marketing is a noun and this for me is a WTF. Clearly marketing is a doing word marketing is a verb, it’s something that you do. So that’s a really poor start from dictionary.com.

They go on tell  us that marketing is “the act of buying or selling in a market and I don’t understand this at all. Does this mean that if I go to the Sunday market and I buy some carrots that I’m engaging in marketing? And the guy who sells me the carrots is engaging in marketing? This makes absolutely no sense to me. They go on to tell us that marketing is “the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer to the seller to the buyer.” I don’t know what that means either but it includes apparently “advertising, shipping, storing and selling.” For me, absolutely advertising is marketing, selling, potentially is marketing. I don’t know what shipping or storing has to do with marketing so this I’m afraid dictionary.com is a really poor definition you need to look at this because you’re really not helping the world know what marketing is. 

A better definition of marketing.

So we are going to need a better definition and thankfully we found one at balancesmall business.com. What they tell us is that marketing is “the process of interesting potential customers in your product or services.” I like this definition a lot.

They go on to tell us that the “key word in this marketing definition is process -doing marketing involves researching, promoting, selling and distributing your products or services.” The only issue I have with this definition is that it tries to define marketing a little bit by the things you do when you are marketing. That’s a little bit like defining sleep like lying down and closing your eyes. That is absolutely what you do when you go to sleep but that isn’t a definition of sleep. So this definition kind of works, especially when they talk about the process of interesting potential customers in your product or services absolutely that is marketing for me, nut they haven’t quite answered the question. 

The best marketing definition I ever heard.

Which brings us then to the best definition that I’ve ever heard by Robert Craven. What Robert Craven said is that “marketing is the act of finding winning and keeping customers profitably.” 

There are two things that I really like about this marketing definition.

Firstly, he tells us what marketing is actually about, not what you’re going to be doing when you are marketing but what you intend to achieve when you are marketing. MArketing, absolutely is about finding winning and keeping customers profitably.

The second thing that I really enjoy about this marketing definition is the word profitably. What Robert Craven is suggesting here is that if you are going to do marketing you’re going to be making an investment and you need to be careful to make sure you get a return on that investment. 

Thank you Robert Craven for the best definition of marketing I’ve ever heard. 

How do I define marketing?

Given that Robert Craven has done such a brilliant job of defining marketing is there possibly anything we can add to his definition.

I think there’s a little bit that we can add. Our definition is that “marketing is the investment you make in time, energy and money in finding winning and keeping customers profitably.” All we have done is take the suggestion away we. We now know that marketing is an investment, We’ve also told you exactly what it is that you are going to invest – you will not find win and keep customers unless you invest some time, some energy and some money. 

The way marketing works is – if you’ve got lots of time and not very much money you might actually have to invest lots of time and energy. If you’ve got lots of money then maybe you’ll be investing less time and energy but certainly, finding winning and keeping customers is about investing your time energy and money.

Our definition of marketing is “it’s the investment you make in time, energy and money in finding winning and keeping customers profitably.” 

Do you need marketing?

Which brings us to the question do you need marketing?

This is interesting to me because I quite often hear people say things like – “If there’s a recession marketing is the first thing that we stop investing in” or “I don’t need marketing in my business.” 

It seems to me that every business that is looking to grow, every business that’s looking to have more success, more customers, more money should absolutely be investing in finding winning and keeping customers. Except, of course, if you’re in the last five years of your career, if you’re five years from retirement and you’ve got a customer that’s contracted through to that time and there’s no question and that’s going to fail, then maybe you don’t need to be looking for customers. 

The other situation is that you might just have located your business brilliantly. You might have located your business on a super busy high street where tens of thousands of people pass your business every day and they come in and. they spend money. Similarly you might have positioned yourself at the top of Google and you are getting tens of thousands of visitors to your website every day. In these cases you may not need marketing any longer but you should understand that marketing has happened if you have located your business well and that might be all of the marketing that you need.

Other than in those instances, if you’re looking to grow, if you’re looking to be more successful, if you’re looking to take on more projects, have more product, have more kudos then it’s marketing – finding winning and keeping customers profitably that you need to be investing in.

How do you marketing?

Which brings us then to point number seven. Point number seven is the question how do you do marketing?

Am I really going to tell you how to do marketing in this 10 minute long video?

I’m certainly going to give you the very shortened version. Effective marketing is simply about having the right product and then landing the right message, on the right people, at the right time. We know from balancesmallbusiness.com that this is a process and this is what this series will be about. 

As I cut through this marketing jargon I’m going to walk you through the process of how you do marketing. Maybe now might be a good time to subscribe if doing marketing is something that you’re in.

What should you expect in return from your marketing investments?

So here we are friends, we’ve got to point number eight, well done if you are still with us 🙂

Point number eight is what is the outcome of marketing?

It seems to me that there are lots and lots and lots of outcomes of marketing. If you start doing your market research your market knowledge will grow. If you start doing some marketing then awareness of your business will grow, maybe your prices will go up, maybe you’ll develop new products.

There are lots of outcomes of marketing but there are two that you should be particularly interested; sales and leads.

Very often the outcome of marketing might be sales. Ff you work in a retail business, like McDonald’s for example people arrive at the counter, they know exactly what they’re buying, they know exactly what they’re paying and they know exactly what they’re going to get. In this instance it is marketing that’s doing the sales job. Certainly McDonald’s have never called me and asked me to go and do some objection handling with their counter staff, the marketing is too good for that.

The second instance where marketing might generate your sales for you is if you are selling online. If you have a website with click to buy options then there iss no sales process involved. In these instances marketing is doing the entirety of finding winning and keeping customers for you.

The issue is if you’re selling B2B. Most of my clients and most of my time has been spent in selling B2B. What happens in B2B marketing is that you need to generate leads where people express an interest in your product but they need to be sold and they need a sales person to do that selling. That is the subject of episode number three – What is a lead?

Did we cover the what is marketing issue?

If you are still with us well done. You should now understand that not everybody knows what marketing is, that dictionary.com have failed entirely to define what marketing is but balancesmallbusiness.com have done much better but not quite as well as Robert Craven and I think that’s improved a little bit with our intervention with our marketing definition, you now have a sense if you need marketing or not you and a sense of what’s involved in doing marketing and you know what the outcome of marketing is.

If you have found this interesting or useful please take a second to like, share, subscribe maybe comment, maybe there’s a piece of marketing jargon that you would like to see defined in this fashion.

If you have found it really useful why not take a second to head across to the Effective Marketing Company blog where you can subscribe and you will get this marketing jargon, bullshit busting goodness in your inbox every day.

We’re done here Ricky 🙂

Martin Henley

Martin Henley

Martin has built a reputation for having a no nonsense approach to sales and marketing and for motivating audiences with his wit, energy, enthusiasm and his own brand of audience participation.

Martin’s original content is based on his very current experience of running effective marketing initiatives for his customers and the feedback from Effective Marketing’s successful and popular marketing workshops.



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