Help me out, please

Help me out here.  Last night I was putting together my argument for an upcoming speech about marketing when I realized that I don’t know what marketing is about.  Or, to be precise, I do know what marketing is about (I have a very strong point of view on it, actually), but I don’t have a good definition.

What is marketing?

Can you help me?  If you have a definition you’d like to share, please shoot me an email.  Or, better yet, please leave a comment below.  That way we can all riff off each other. 

Thanks in advance.

28 thoughts on “Help me out, please

  1. Marketing is the process of communicating value to potential customers.
    IOW, it entails figuring out who can get value from the product or service, what different types of value each type of potential customer can get, and then getting them to recognize that value.

  2. Good marketing helps an organization make friends and influence people. It’s all about relationships…both real and imagined.

  3. Well, I was going to say something here but it really came down to the old adage my mom always said to me:
    If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.

  4. Marketing is a conversation between companies and their clients/customers. Sometimes this is done well and both groups can’t wait to hear from each other. Other (most) times it isn’t a conversation at all — just one side trying unsuccessfully (and expensively) and pretending they’re talking to someone.

  5. Marketing lets people imagine how you — what you sell them — will make their lives better. This may not be entirely conscious to them.
    How much their perceived experience agrees with their imagination will help determine your success. This also may not be entirely conscious.

  6. This is a Seth Godin term in his book “Marketers are Liars”:
    “Marketers are not liars. Marketers help consumers tell their own lies.”

  7. Lots of good insights, but at it most fundamental:
    Marketing is the process of intentionally attaching meanings to companies, products, other concepts etc.
    Those meanings tend to positive value, trustworthiness, and personal or social identification- but it could really be anything.
    A lot of people are referring to conversations and relationships, another way to talk about sharing meanings and trying to maintain them over time.
    I include the “intentionally” because a company or individual may profit from an unexpected connotation of their product or other trend, but it wouldn’t be “marketing”. Though I would expect good marketers to jump on the circumstantial opportunity.
    There are innovative and not so innovative examples. Some say very new and unexpected things that expand or refine a users concept of self, I call that “good” marketing.

  8. Marketing? Simply walking out to the town square and make known, yourself, your goods or service. From there it ramps wildly out of control.

  9. I’m partial to the visual representation on p24 of Marty Neumeier’s book Zag. It’s a playful way of situating marketing, with telemarketing, PR, advertising, graphic design and branding.

  10. hah – i ask myself this question everyday in the constant battles i have with marketing departments… those marketing departments who want to rule the world (or at least the company).
    Marketing departments i’ve worked with see marketing as the entire process of taking a product (or service) to market. It is the beginning (the research) and the end (the launch).
    they see design as one of their vehicles to pretty up their offering. Design being bottom of the food chain.
    i’d be keen to know more about your argument…

  11. I think the simplest definition is that marketing is the conduit between the product and the end user. However I believe that marketing, like many other industries, has been fragmented by specialization and is now more of an umbrella term that encompasses branding, research, product development and sales.
    To use a fishing analogy, assume a company is a boat, with a product (the bait) and marketing determines where the line (conduit) is to be dropped to maximize the potential of getting a “nibble” from a prospect. It’s then up to sales to “hook” the buyer to maintain the relationship. Branding, as a component of marketing, is the nasty lure in the bottom of the tackle box that you know will catch ‘em every time.

  12. Hi, Diego. I really enjoy your blog, and I’m a sucker for definition challenges.
    It took me a while to come up with something that I think catches the truth:
    >> Marketing is the process of making people want to be your customer. << Take that one for a test drive, and let me know how it goes. 😉

  13. Marketing is the process of laying the ground work for future sales. It is long term and has fuzzy metrics.
    It is also the home of many charlatans, cool kids and spin meisters.

  14. Marketing is making the connections of the company’s promise, products/services, and the customers’ values at the right place at the right time.
    It’s like aligning the planets for a photo shoot or herding cats or lining up 100 toddlers. Impossible? no. Difficult? yes.

  15. >>Marketing is about identifying desirable experiences, then delivering them<< The best thing about your definition is it invites participation from everyone involved in the experience, because at every step of design, production, supply, support, there is the potential to identify and deliver desirable experiences - thus everyone involved in a product is potentially involved in marketing. But are you sure you want to drop any reference to customers, business or profit? It leaves the purpose of marketing open to interpretation. Designers might be happy with a definition that focuses on experience and desirability, but would business people? Perhaps your argument is, provide desirable experiences and it follows that people will be your customers, but you haven't said marketing HAS to have that purpose at its heart. Would business owners agree with you on that? Maybe it depends on your audience, and the purpose of your speech.

  16. Marketing is the fully and forcefully articulated expression of a brand’s essential nature (brand essence) perfectly aligned with the needs of a clearly defined target of greatest opportunity.

  17. Hey! Hawaiian is on to something, Cat Herding… a Cat Herder would maybe use a can of tuna…… Marketing would be the aroma… getting the Cat’s attention and brings them to thought “I should investigate this more”

  18. Today only! Two definitions for the price of one (Note the ironic use of marketing to lead into the definitions):
    Intent to create economic + human value
    Intent to communicate economic + human value

  19. The Hawaiian/Micromatt “aroma” idea captures the oblique, pervasive quality of marketing, a quality that distinguishes it from, say, sales.
    And there’s an important nuance in “I SHOULD investigate this more…” Marketing is not necessarily about action – hopefully it is, but not necessarily, not in the same way that sales is. It’s more about building potential energy – charging a cloud to the point where lightning releases itself. (Sorry to introduce a new metaphor.)

Comments are closed.