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What is marketing?

 29 June 2017     Donald Cooper 

Every business talks about ‘marketing’ but most never really define it. There are many debates, disagreements and myths about what marketing is. Some folks equate it to advertising, promotion and sales, but it’s much more than that. Here’s my simple definition of ‘marketing’, one which may be helpful: ‘Marketing’ is anything we do to increase the demand for or sales of what we sell.

So, customer and competitive research are marketing. Product design, quality, selection, availability, packaging, presentation and signage are all part of marketing. How we look, how we sound and how we perform in every part of our business are essential parts of marketing, as are our sense of urgency and our response time.

Sales, service, pricing, invoicing, our policies, our guarantee and our values are all part of marketing, as are our advertising and promotion, web site and every communication we send out in any way.

Increasing the overall demand for what we sell is a big part of marketing. ‘Make the pie bigger!’ This is especially true if your product or service is new or if many of your target customers are not familiar with it or they have some fear or anxiety about it.

Many businesses are trying to convince us to buy something from them that we haven’t yet been convinced to buy at all. So, we all have two marketing jobs. First, is to convince folks to buy what we sell and second, to buy it from us. Most businesses jump right to ‘Marketing Job #2’ – and it’s a huge waste of money.

Home Depot grows the ‘do-it-yourself’ market by offering seminars on how to do various home projects yourself. They help more people feel comfortable about tackling the job. A very smart camping equipment store in Edmonton offers ‘camping for beginners’ weekends in the mountains to coach and assure potential customers that camping is an amazing fun, safe and affordable adventure. Casinos offer courses in ‘poker for beginners’ to lure in more suckers. For years, the Recreational Vehicle Dealers’ Association has run a campaign designed to excite more families about the experience of RVing.

So how could you coach, encourage and promote to get more people wanting and using what you sell?  How can you ‘make the pie bigger’?

Many folks disagree with my definition of marketing. They’re wrong. They say, for example, things like product or service design, quality and dependability are not part of marketing. But the truth is they’re the very start of marketing. It’s a lot tougher to sell poorly designed crap than something that looks appealing, uplifts the soul and functions magnificently. Anything that gives you an edge in the marketplace is ‘marketing’.

It’s not that I think everyone in an organisation should report to the head of marketing. That would be goofy. It’s just that everyone in the organization, no matter what their job or department should understand how their job affects the ability of the business to serve, to be extraordinary and to grow. We should all be thinking of ourselves as being an important part of the marketing team, even if we’re not part of the marketing department.

What will you do to create that feeling and customer commitment in every part of your business?


Las Vegas Market
Protect-A-Bed
This HGO article was written by:
Donald Cooper
Donald Cooper

Donald Cooper has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. Now, as a business speaker and coach he helps business owners and managers throughout the world to rethink, refocus and re-energize their business to create compelling customer value, clarity of purpose and long-term profitability.


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