What Is Marketing, Really?

Marketing

There I was, minding my own business, resting after completion of an amazing content marketing strategy workshop for a client. And someone asked about my opinion on the difference between marketing and branding.

I was directed to read this cartoon that defines marketing as “I am a great lover” vs branding which shows the consumer saying “I understand you’re a great lover.”

Marketing is for lovers

This got me a little fired up. OK, a lot fired up!

Marketing

I’ve already tried to define what marketing is many times here. I’ve tried to address the common perception of marketing as being all about promoting and selling. And I’ve taken on the problem of advertising, mad men and their “big” ideas, and the sheer idiocy of banner ads.

I believe marketing has a marketing problem. Ask most people what marketing is and they think of some form of either selling (I am great and you should choose me because of reason A or B) or advertising (buy our stuff and you will have a better life, be more attractive, have more sex, attract better partners, be happier.)

As the global economy settles into a new normal of consistent doubt, Marketing has an identity problem, a brand perception gap, maybe even a crisis of confidence.

“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.”

When I transitioned out of a successful sales career almost 15 years ago, most of my peers thought I was crazy. The head of our division hung up on me (it wasn’t the first time).

Increasingly, after more and more conversations with real customers, I had bought in to the idea that marketing represented the future. I sold what was “in the sales bag.”

But I wanted to help shape the future. Naive? Probably. Delusional? Certainly. Possible? Definitely!

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

Marketing is not about who can talk faster, or close better. It is about deep psychological understanding of customer needs. Steve Jobs had this gift better than almost any example. Henry Ford. Thomas Edison. Every innovation in the history of the world combined an uncanny understanding of human needs and the innovative vision to deliver it.

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