Business of Marketing and Branding

The trouble with the definition of marketing

I started my marketing consulting/services business based on the realisation that many small and medium businesses in the B2B sphere have few, if any, dedicated “marketing” resources. What I mean by that is there are few people with “marketing” in their title, or people who are formally charged with “marketing”.

Those people with “marketing” in their title are in most instances responsible for marketing communications; keeping the website up to date, a newsletter, maybe some PR and organising the occaisional customer event. However, if you want to talk about revenue, profits, customer aquisition, differentiation, competitors, loyalty or any other “marketing” issues, you talk to the Sales Manager. Or the CEO. But not “marketing”.

Here is my point; using the word “marketing” in conversation is meaningless unless you give an immediate description of what bit of it you are referring to. Don’t ever assume that you and the person you are talking to actually understand it to mean the same thing.
(Come to think of it; what is the point of a word that means something different to virtually everyone? If a key responsibility of “marketing” is communication, why have we not been yet been able to sort this one out?)

Search Google for the “definition of marketing” and you’ll see what I mean. If it is confusing to marketers, how on earth do we expect non-marketers to understand what we do, when we say that we are “marketers”.

This is what the American Marketing Association came up with in 2004: “Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.”

Somehow I just can’t hear myself using that the next time someone asks me “what is that you do, exactly?” (And incidently, I don’t think it’s right either; what if my marketing goal is to attract more talented employees to the organisation? They are not customers, is it therefore not marketing?

So I have decided that the only way to go is to write down what it is that we do, exactly.
How about this: I assist companies in creating, developing and maintaining profitable relationships. Far from perfect, but I think people will relate to it better than the official version.

2 thoughts on “The trouble with the definition of marketing

  1. Philip Woodgate

    Much better definition for me. What I truly dread is where marketing is thought to be brochures and newsletters. The brochures look tired and the newsletters go in the bin. Worse still is the bland approach to creating these – photo’s of office people and the same tired content. Good marketing goes to the heart of what the organisation and what sets it apart.

  2. david Post author

    Thanks Philip; the brochures and newsletters always are the first point of conversation somehow, aren’t they? That’s the visible part of marketing. However, many times the conversation about a brochure leads to what should be in it, which leads to the differentiation, which leads to the offering, which leads to marketing strategy…you start at one point (the tangible) and in the process work yourself back of the thought process to the strategy. Happens all the time, doesn’t it?

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