What's Marketing up to?

Marketing is one of those words that appear a lot in business and in modern life. However, it's one of the most misunderstood ideas around, so maybe we should take a closer look.

Marketing is often confused with two other activities, advertising and selling. It's related to them of course, but actually quite separate.

Marketing is about making money from sales. That money equates to the value that consumers feel that they get from the product on offer, and marketing aims to make those perceptions clearer. The profit to the seller is the difference between the money received and the cost of delivery in all respects, including marketing expenses.

We can see from this definition that marketing is therefore "strategic", although until quite recently managers thought of it as essentially "tactical", and more or less the same as advertising. Nowadays advertising is used as part of the communication mix, especially when there are so many new ways (e.g. social media, promotions and loyalty programmes) to reach consumers.

So what about selling? That's often mistaken for marketing too. We still hear about marketing drives/efforts, but they usually mean an initiative to sell more. Selling has always been a core part of business and, like advertising, is one of the resources mobilised in the overall approach to a market. However, it's sometimes not given the importance it deserves, and sales people can find themselves having to work harder/discount more deeply when marketing fails (i.e. consumers somehow don't see the value and benefits of the product). We'll write about selling quite soon - how's that for some advance marketing?


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