We all know that marketing plays a central role in any business. Without proper marketing, it is considerably less likely that a business will be able to succeed in any real way. However, the truth is that most people’s understanding of what marketing is is actually not quite right. If you ask most entrepreneurs, even more experienced ones, what marketing is, more often than not they will start to talk about promotion and how to get the word out about a business. While it is true that promoting a business is an important part of marketing, and one of its chief aims, it is also true that this is only one aspect of many different aspects within marketing. The truth is, marketing is a much longer and more extensive process than many people realise, beginning with the development of a product and ending with sale and feedback. In this article, we are going to try and redress this imbalance by asking the question: what is marketing, really?
The Various Definitions Of Marketing
No matter how many people you ask, everyone is likely to give you a different answer to the question listed above. This is because the world of business, and of marketing in particular, is not actually as concrete and well-defined as people tend to think. It is more like a fluid set of processes which work together to make one seamless whole. If we look at the literal dictionary definitions of marketing, we can see how this might be the case. Merriam-Webster defines marketing as ‘the activities that are involved in making people aware of a company’s products, making sure that the products are available to be bought, etc.’ While the Oxford dictionary puts it like this: ‘the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.’ Both of these definitions actually miss out many other important aspects to the whole marketing process.
In truth, marketing begins with product development and problem ideation. It is in these first steps that you can already see the beginnings of the process of how to ensure that the products are going to be bought, or the service used. Marketers and business owners know this, and that’s why their definitions tend to be much more varied than those offered by the dictionaries. All of these differ widely, and there is much dispute about which activities count towards marketing and which are irrelevant, but one thing is for certain: there is always a central goal, and it is always the same.
The Goal Of Marketing
No matter what form it may take, marketing tends to only really have one thing in mind. There are countless ways of getting there, and a million methods which can be adopted, but ultimately marketing is aiming for one thing in particular at the end of it all. That goal is quite simple: to sell as many of those products as possible, and to increase the value of them for customers, for the business and the wider public all in one. Marketing which has this goal in mind is likely to do pretty well on the whole. Of course, individuals and businesses might have their own particular agenda when it comes to marketing. But if you really break down what they are saying, normally what is underneath is what we are saying here: the goal to sell as much as possible, and to provide as much value as possible at the same time. As long as this is being achieved, you can readily call it good marketing.
What Does Good Marketing Look Like?
The best marketing, it is fair to say, touches upon every aspect of a business’ operations in some way, at some point during the process of being enacted. This starts right at the beginning of the business being built up, in fact, even as early as the planning stage. Good marketing is inherent even in the planning of the business, as a really solid plan takes into account all manner of marketing expertise, such as knowledge of the current market and research about consumer behaviour. Even here, the more you know, the more effective the planning is likely to be – and that itself is a rudimentary kind of marketing.
It is also fair to say that the best marketing often finds a way to champion the customer. This means simply that the customer, rather than being made to feel like they are being preached to, instead feels respected by the manner in which they are being spoken to by the business. This is hugely important in terms of ensuring ongoing customer relations for the business, as well as keeping the marketing in as powerful a position as possible by keeping the customer as happy as can be.
Sometimes, marketing is best when it is invisible. As we have already seen, marketing is not always about the direct promotion of a product, service or brand; just as often, marketing is something which goes on behind the scenes and is an attempt to improve upon a function already in place there. We can see this most clearly in certain areas of digital marketing, as the digital world tends to owe itself to these kinds of behaviours. A great and popular example is SEO. With proper search engine optimization in place, a business’ website can expect to receive a great many more interested parties and reliable followers. But for SEO to be as effective as possible, it needs to be invisible – otherwise there is little point in it being used at all. The real SEO hero is the marketer who is able to radically transform the user’s behaviour on the site, without their efforts ever being seen at all.
Like many other areas of business, marketing is constantly being updated, revised and improved upon – and everyone has their own approach. Doubtless, the idea of what is best and what is worst in marketing is always going to be liable to change. But there must be some kind of constant behind it all – something which will always be unmistakable marketing, no matter what other changes the business world might go through? Let’s take a look, next, at what those eternal marketing qualities might be.
What Qualities Are Essential For Marketing?
To answer this question, it might be necessary to have a think about the kinds of people who tend to find themselves in marketing roles. If we can see what those people are like, and what qualities the most successful ones have, we can son discover something interesting about the nature of marketing itself. After all, marketing really is nothing without the people involved in the process of creating and distributing its efforts.
One of the most important qualities in those in marketing is the ability to communicate – openly, honestly, but with a persuasive edge and with the ability to deliver the final result which is expected. This easygoing attitude towards communication is something which really can’t be avoided, as it is the ability to communicate which, above all, ensures that the marketing works. Without proper communication with the customer and with potential customers, marketing won’t really get much done.
It is fair to say that a certain level of creativity is also necessary for marketing to be successful. We can see the truth of this if we think about what marketing would look like if it were all the same – sometimes this happens quite by accident, and the result is marketing which is wholly ineffective. Marketers themselves must have the ability to be creative and to think in a unique way if their efforts are to have the desired effect. It goes without saying that a marketing campaign which nobody has ever seen the likes of before is going to be considerably more effective than one which follows in the footsteps of what has gone before too closely. Creativity leads to more effective promotion, and a bigger number of sales altogether.
No marketing effort is the product of an individual, and you will find that marketers are agreed on one thing: you can’t do it alone. Those marketing efforts which are attempted alone tend to come out pretty poorly, and there is a good reason for that – you can’t create in a vacuum. If you try to, it really comes off as anything worthwhile. With that in mind, we can see how it might be that teamwork is another important quality for marketers who want to succeed. With a strong team on board, marketing can be considerably easier.
In Conclusion: How Marketing Works
What can we take away from all this when it comes to developing our own marketing efforts? Above all, the key seems to be that an honest, direct and creative approach is more likely to work than any other. Marketing needs to do what it does invisibly, in a fair manner, and without sacrificing the quality of the product. Only then can it be considered superior marketing, the kind that we are all aiming for.