What is marketing?


Marketing is, for most people, advertising. It’s the creation of promotional material like websites and product information sheets so the sales team has something to leave behind with a potential client. And in the past 10-years, marketing has become social media, SEO, PPC, and SEM.

For many, marketing is lead generation or site traffic generation.

And the reason for this ignorance is, in my humble opinion, marketers.

Well, actually, people that refer to themselves as marketers.

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.

Approved July 2013

I really like the AMA’s definition because marketing is so much more than promotion or generating leads.

Personally, marketing has always been about understanding the customer and consistently providing them with unique and valuable solutions to their wants and needs.

That means research. That means setting realistic goals and objectives. That means identifying the resources (human, financial, technological) necessary to do what’s necessary to achieve those goals and objectives.

And those resources aren’t just a couple of designers, a writer and a programmer. Those resources include everyone within the organization and outside the organization that are necessary for the work to be accomplished effectively, efficiently, profitably.

Yes, I am suggesting that “John” down in accounts receivable is involved in the marketing effort because his ability to meet or exceed the expectations of the customer has a direct impact on the organization’s ability to achieve its goals and objectives.

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

Peter Drucker

Marketing vs. Sales: A Personal Story

Long, long ago I was a college student at Arizona State University. And in my marketing class, the instructor informed us that sales was a function within marketing.

And because it was presented in a college course and in a calm yet confident manner, I accepted this as truth.

After all, if marketing is responsible for communicating with the prospective customer and generating a sale or transaction with them, sales people were an asset just like direct mail – they were an arrow in the marketing quiver that should be used when appropriate. After all, you don’t want to waste resources.

Anyway, I eventually graduated and entered the working world. And one of my first ‘director of marketing’ position was with a small, family-owned business that provided certain services for businesses.

The owners made it clear to me that part of the job was going to be sales and as much as I wanted to avoid a sales job (been there, done that), I soon found myself smiling and dialing, scheduling meetings and occasionally cold calling businesses.

I had marginal success at this for a number of reasons that included I wasn’t the knowledgeable about the target audience. I mean, I knew job title and responsibilities but I really didn’t know about wants, needs, concerns,

And because of this, I talked a lot about the features of our services and business rather than the benefits of the customer would enjoy – which is something I still cringe about today.

Long story short, I ended up at a Tom Hopkins seminar and the one thing I walked away with was to shut up, listen and focus on the prospective customer’s pain.

I figured ‘what the heck’ and I started to do just that – and I quickly learned about my audience while closing a lot more sales.

Why did I share this tale with you? If your marketing team is sitting in the office and not engaging with your audience, you have a problem.

If your marketing team is sitting in the office and not involved with audience research, you have a problem.

Today, too many ‘marketers’ are focused on Google Analytics and Salesforce and WordPress and all the marketing technology that’s out there, that they have lost touch with the audience and the business has suffered because of it.

Get them out of the office. Get them to spend time with the people your business serves and make sure they learn about their wants, needs, perception and expectations.

Find out what motivates them in their jobs and outside work.

Because with that knowledge, they will come back to the office with insights that drive new product development and improve performance in key areas around the company. They will be much more effectively involved in the “…processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offers that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at-large.”

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