What is marketing, really?
Ask some business owners this question and they will probably give you the definition of advertising or promotions – ‘ah, it’s when I place an ad on the radio’, or ‘it’s my Social Media activity’, and whilst these two are definitely a component of marketing, marketing as a whole is so, so much more than just that.
Essentially, marketing is the activity a business undertakes to successfully match the goods and services they produce with the demands, needs and wants of a target market. Therefore, marketing is the conduit that joins a business with its consumer and as a result, rests on the success of two key areas:
- Getting the product or service right
- Understanding and targeting the right consumer
Over the years, I have worked with many businesses who undervalue the role of marketing and in some instances completely disregarded the need for ‘any marketing’. In these cases, what I have found is that they confuse the function of marketing with sales or selling, and they think by selling they are successfully marketing. But selling is not marketing, and marketing is not selling.
So, what is the difference between sales and marketing?
Marketing is what differentiates your offering from that of the competition, and it’s what gives your goods or services a brand, a personality, makes it accessible, positions it at the right price point in the right retailer, delivers a customer experience and tells your target market you exist, via ads on the radio, or social media activity. To be good at marketing, you or the people you engage in this area need to have many skills – importantly they need to be analytical, insightful, strategic, creative, and innovative and they need to be risk takers.
Sales, on the other hand, is what occurs when your target market actually purchases your goods or services – usually as a result of your marketing making them aware of and leading them to your goods or services.
The role of marketing as the link between business and consumer makes it one of, if not the most important functions of business and it should be embraced by every person in a business. Every decision in the business should be focussed on how it will impact the consumer and as a result, how a product or service will be received in the market. As David Packard, one half of Hewlett-Packard pointed out, ‘marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department’, and I couldn’t agree more.