What is marketing?
Although it may sound counter-intuitive, marketing does not start with a new idea or innovative product. It begins with the customer – these are the people who make your business successful and this is where the marketing process begins, not at the point when the product is ready to sell.
Entrepreneurs are always naturally enthusiastic about their ideas and assume other people will feel the same, but it doesn't always work that way. During the process of setting up a new business or launching a new product, you'll need to persuade many people that your product is worth buying, so it helps if you know a bit about them first. What are their problems, needs and wants? Can you help save them time, money or effort?
Your customers are not just limited to the people who buy your product off the shelf – investors, distributors, retailers, and other stakeholders are also in this bracket. They need to feel that their investment is safe and will yield a return so you need to convince them too. This means doing your homework, researching the consumer and writing a marketing plan.
For decades, academics have been trying to come up with a concise definition for marketing.
Dictionaries tend to take the most literal route, such as:
"The commercial functions involved with transferring goods from producer to consumer"
For the purposes of this site we're interested in successful marketing, which is how the various marketing associations tend to define the word.
The Chartered Institute of Marketing describe it as:
"The management process for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably"
The American Marketing Association approved their most recent definition in 2007:
"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"
Pretty snappy isn't it!
Once you stray outside the circle of marketing professionals or academics the definition tends to become increasingly blurred. Many people describe marketing as being synonymous with advertising or promotion, but it's important to realise these are just the cogs in a larger, more efficient machine.
Marketing-made-simple.com defines marketing as a business ethos that ensures focus on current and potential customers.
- Understanding potentials customers and the external business environment in as much detail as possible
- Identifying opportunities and developing a strategy to capitalize on these
- Using established marketing tools to deliver the strategy.
- Measurement of your results and a process of continual improvement
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At the end of the day, the exact definition of marketing is not important. What is crucial to both large and small businesses alike is to ensure that the customer is at the very core of your vision throughout all departments and understood by every one of your employees.