What is marketing?
It’s one of those business terms that we hear daily, that everyone has a vague idea of, but that few people can nail down accurately.
It’s one of those concepts that gets drastically over-complicated – books, websites, degree courses and diplomas, not to mention a vast array of consulting firms – have all come up with slightly different yet enormously detailed models of exactly what marketing looks like. Marketing is one of the most jargon-filled business disciplines out there.
We think it can be made simpler.
Marketing, ultimately, is focused on two things – retaining the customers you already have, and attracting new ones.
As such, it covers a spectrum, stretching all the way from your actual products and/or services through to your existing and potential customers.
At the product and service end, marketing is about ensuring that they are relevant, appropriately priced and offer a real competitive edge. At the customer end, marketing is about ensuring that they are carefully targeted, receive clear and accurate information, and have clear lines of communication with your organisation.
With us so far?
By thinking about marketing in terms of these two simple aims, and this spectrum of influence that stretches between product and customer, you can start to build a marketing programme that makes sense to you. Rather than panicking about whether you are fulfilling all nine elements of a trademarked marketing matrix, or whether you are working with the latest promotional tool that everyone is talking about, you can think and work in terms of marketing your business.
So, consider those basic aims in terms of your own offering. How do you retain the customers you have? How do you attract new ones? Some of the points you might consider include:
- What does our ideal target customer look like?
- What products or services do our customers need?
- How do we stand out compared with our competitors?
- How can we improve our products or services in line with what our customers want?
- What’s the most appropriate price point for our products and services?
- Which distribution channels are the best for getting our products to our customers?
Already, then, marketing stops being a jargon-filled, management-speak concept far removed from your actual day-to-day operations, and becomes something absolutely embedded in your business. It stops being academic, and starts being tangible.
Next, you need to stop thinking about marketing as a set of separate, discrete activities, and rather as an ongoing process – a journey that never ends. Every aspect of your marketing should be part of a coherent, continuous whole. It’s a complete waste of time to develop a product and never find out what your customers actually think about it, or to run a series of promotional social media posts and never check how well they performed. Good marketing is iterative and reflexive – its component parts should feed into each other and, ultimately, into your business strategy.
Marketing might just be the most over-theorised element of business management – the way to get the basics right is to move away from theory and think about practice.