So, in this post I’m going to try to answer an old question: what is marketing. What it is for me anyway.
Definitions of marketing differ. Wikipedia defines marketing as a process of intentionally stimulating demand for and purchases of goods and services. Definition is bit longer but we don’t need to go into details. AMA (American Marketing Association) defines marketing as activity, set of institutions, and processes, for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large. Bit different, isn’t it? And AMA reviews it every few years what in itself tells a lot about ever shifting nature of marketing. Back in 1935 they defined marketing as performance of business activities that direct the flow of goods, and services, from producers to customers.
There are other definitions, emphasising some of the areas of over the others (like customer relationship). Philip Kotler in 1980 saw marketing as satisfying needs and wants through an exchange process. In 2018 he defined it as the process by which companies engage customers, build strong relationships and create customer value in order to capture value from customer in return. Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) focuses on management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.
Pretty varied bunch of approaches. Varying from product and business-centric to customer and value propositions. Really going in line with times. Think back to the beginning of XX century, it was all about selling and product. As quickly and as profitably as possible. Real MMA of marketing! You had limited communication channels and the term mass-media made sense. Marketing was about mass bombarding the subjects (us) and hoping at leas bunch of the targets will be hit and return the investment.
Since then a lot has changed. The subjects evolved into consumers and became more aware. Marketers had to become more subtle, more precise. Instead of bombarding us with mostly irrelevant messages they had to “connect” and start communicating. With the rise of social media that last part became even more important. Marketing is no longer about masses it’s about individuals. It’s about us. It’s about building relationships and communicating. It’s about learning about customers and answering customer needs. That has been already reflected in some of the definitions I quoted above. Look at 2018’s definition from Kotler. It’s no longer about needs and wants, it’s about engaging with customers, about building relationships.
And I think this is exactly what marketing is about. It’s not about product or service. It’s not about trying to make you, the customer to believe my can of soft drink is better than a different can of soft drink that looks very similar and yet supposedly is not. It’s not about throwing leaflets into the wind and hoping that there is someone out there who is the right target and that one person will pick it up, even if he, or she, is somewhere else. Marketing is about precision, about knowledge, about being in sync with needs. It’s about relationships and communication. That’s the value of marketing. It’s about reaching out to wide audiences in order to narrow them down via built relationships and meaningful communication in sync with the needs heard and answered. You build awareness, stimulate interest and demand by learning about your customer and communicating with that customer.
This is what marketing is for me.