What Is Marketing – Really?

”Marketing Is One of the Most Misunderstood Words in Business”

One of the fundamental rules of marketing and copywriting is WRITE CLEARLY.  In fact, it's not enough to write so you can be understood.  You must write so you can't be MISunderstood.  How ironic is it then, that the work "Marketing" itself is so often misunderstood.

I often speak at Chambers of Commerce and other business groups.  At least three out of four attendees are owners, managers or employees of small businesses.  One of the first discussion topics in the presentation is:

So, How Would YOU Answer The Question, "What Is Marketing - Really?"

Dictionary.com defines marketing as “the commercial processes involved in promoting and selling and distributing a product or service”.]  Pretty stodgy, don't you think.  Can I see hear any other definitions?

As you can well imagine, the answers I get are many and varied, but almost all have a common central theme that revolves around these six words: “Marketing is the promotion of my business.”

Now, I don’t disagree one little bit with the above response; I do think that it does not go nearly far enough. My definition comes out of years of experience marketing my own companies and advising others.

What Is Marketing?  “Marketing is EVERYTHING you do that touches or impacts your customers or prospects.”

Everything?  Yes, everything.  Think about it for a second.  If you send an incorrect invoice, will that not affect your customer’s image of your company?  If your phone answering system is so poorly configured that a prospect is put through hoops for two, five or ten minutes without getting to the right person, will that impact his desire to do business with you?

Conversely, if you handle a return promptly, courteously and without a hint of annoyance, will that customer be willing to buy from you again because she knows if she must return it, she can – and the experience will actually be pleasant?

The answers are “Yes!”  “Yes!” And “Hell, Yes!”

Here’s A Partial List Of “Everything”!

I know you can think of more things to add, when you examine your own business.

  • Advertising
  • Websites
  • Social Media
  • Customer Service
  • Staff Attitudes
  • Sales tools
  • Educational materials
  • Elevator pitch
  • Answering the phone
  • On-hold messaging
  • Referral Programs
  • Invoices
  • Quality Control
  • Signage
  • Networking
  • Newsletters
  • Public Relations
  • Public speaking
  • Media appearances
  • Return procedures
  • Handling complaints
  • Community support
  • Pro Bono work

This Definition of "What Marketing Is" Should Be A Big Part Of Your Business Plan

Wrap your mind around it.  Think Different.  Every time a customer or potential customer, or even a past customer has a good experience with your company they are that much more apt to buy from you the next time.  Is this not promoting your business?  Of course it is.  Don't be silly.  And don't be myopic, either.  Positive reinforcement is one of the most effective forms of promotion (marketing) there is.  Paying attention to your business processes just became doubly important to your success.

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