In marketing, as in any profession, it is easy to become so caught up in our daily tasks and projects that we lose sight of the big picture. We sometimes need to step back and ask ourselves, “What it is that we are doing and why are we doing it?” That is essentially what Jon Miller, Co-founder of Marketo, had to answer when trying to explain to his six-year old son what marketing is and what he did for a living. His definition, “Marketing is what you do in business when you try to convince people to want and to buy what you have to sell,” is a fine answer, but the question itself, “What is marketing?” elicits a multitude of responses.
The term “marketing” of course is quite broad with definitions often depending on the experience of the professional working in marketing or impacted by it. This is evidenced by the myriad answers to Miller’s Linkedin update of his story, as well as the comments portion of his post:“This is how I explain it to my daughter – I tell stories to other businesses.”
“It’s what a company does to find out what products people want or might like to have, and then tries to persuade them to buy it from the company.”
“Marketing is an art of turning products into goods.”
“Marketing is understanding what people need to address their problems/issues/concerns.”
“Marketing is helping people understand what your company do and help convince them that your product/service is what they need.
Regardless of how it is defined by the individual, answering the question, “What is marketing?” gives us perspective and is a great exercise for developing strategy and assessing goals. Miller’s son’s ideas regarding price, location and value of his lemonade stand serve as simple reminders that marketing is “much more than just promotions and marketing campaigns. It plays a very strategic role in the success of any business.” I have to agree with this assessment. Marketing goes beyond campaigns and advertisements. It’s utilizing every part of the business – management, sales, support, quality assurance, etc – to build an extraordinary experience with clients. When you can do that, and make people’s professional lives better, “marketing” almost takes care of itself with your customers’ conversations leading the charge.