Marketing – what is it really?

February 13, 2016

Marketing as a word is probably one of the most misused, misunderstood and misleading terms ever invented. It has such a broad range of meanings to people, it has almost become unusable, because if you mention the word – there is so much room for the other person to be thinking something completely different from what you intended.

I’ve heard people use marketing to mean sales, to mean promotions, to mean brochures, and so on and so forth.

Why is there this misunderstanding?

I trust it’s ok with you, but I think I’ve found at least part of the answer. Here’s a few reasons why.

1) Business owners aren’t taught marketing as part of the “I’m starting a business” process – ok i know what you’re going to say – we’re not taught anything when we start a business – true enough. Maybe we need to have one of these RTO’s or colleges out there start a ‘business ownership’ course. I’m certainly thinking of it, but I have a lot of other things to do and it’s not my expertise. Anyway, since the business owner hasn’t been taught what it is, it’s fairly difficult for them to define it.

2) It’s poorly used by the media – the word is used to mean many many different things in the media, so the real definition of what it is has become confused

3) People try to define it by physical objects or campaigns. Most business owners I speak to say their marketing is their brochure, or their TV ad, or their business card, or their website. Most start by thinking they need a brochure, or need a letter, or need social media. But there are many steps before this.

And there in, lies the heart of the problem – defining marketing as a ‘thing’ is a bit like saying a car means manufacturing or a house means ‘a building’.

The fact is, marketing is a process – like baking a cake, or drawing a painting, or building a house.

Marketing is a whole series of interconnected activities that result in a business connecting with and servicing their customers, by delivering some product or service that the customer wants, and making a profit along the way.

It seems a simple word, but the strategic process of marketing is a delicately balanced series of steps that leads you from knowing nothing about a potential market to growth and prosperity for your brand. And done poorly it can result in absolute disaster. If you miss the needs and wants or interests of a set of consumers by a small margin you’ll get no result from your marketing.

Even in a room full of marketers, you’d probably have debate about how to write a definition of the word, but recognising that marketing isn’t an item, that it’s a process full of intricacies, delights, exploration, discovery and inspiration isn’t a bad place to start.

Learn the process, and treat it seriously and you too can succeed in your business.

Enjoy the journey.

Hunter