What is your Definition of Marketing?

Over the past couple of months I have attended a number of networking meetings to promote Philmus Consulting Ltd.  One thing I have noticed, and to be frank, I have noticed in several job advertisements for “marketing roles” is that many firms do not have a clear idea of what marketing is.

I have seen marketing described as a sales role, as a web developer role, as a public relations role, as a creative role and on at least two occasions as a role suitable for a graphic designer.

Many of these roles are linked to the marketing function of a firm but they are not marketing.

Confusion over the definition of marketing started in the 1970’s.  In an effort to improve the image of their sales representatives, several firms redefined the role of their sales force as “marketing representatives.  Other firms redefined their advertisements and promotions team as the “marketing department”.  By redefining these tasks as marketing, the exact role of the profession became diluted and its central role in a firm’s competitive strategy confused.

Marketing is not the processing of sales, or copy-writing, or the contracting out of promotional campaigns, although many marketers are tasked with these functions, it is the strategic analysis and planning of tactics aimed at identifying competitive advantage, seeking available gaps in the market and developing a marketing mix which reduces customer cognitive dissonance.

Most organisations operate to a business plan.  This plan sets out the aims and objectives of the organisation over a wide range of functionality including finance and human resources.  A marketing plan addresses the elements of an organisation which are customer focused.

A marketing plan analyses the environment in which a company operates.  This includes the macro environment such as political and economic activity, the internal environment of the organisation and the micro-environment which closely affects the organisation (e.g. customers, competitors and suppliers)

From this analysis, the market is segmented and target segments identified.  A marketing mix is then developed to attract customers and consumers in the target segment.

I have also spoken to many firms who have set up a website as the as their primary promotional outlet.  Digital marketing and sales is a growing area but the internet is an increasing tool for commerce.  What these firm’s tend to lack is suitable signposts to the site and a weak understanding of Search Engine Optimisation.  It is not enough to have a website, particularly in today’s crowded marketplace.  You need a wider marketing strategy to draw consumers to your site.

Marketing is not advertising, it is not sales or PR, it is the process of developing a customer-focused strategy aimed at identifying and profiting from distinct competitive advantage.