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7 Marketing Definitions According to the Marketing Pros

Erin Ollila
December 09, 2020

4 minute read

Marketing is a widely recognized, yet often misunderstood word. People hear it, and immediately think they know what it is, but the actual marketing definition isn’t something that a group of people might easily agree upon.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it takes a few entries to explain the meaning of the word. Marketing is defined as both “the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service,” and “an aggregate of functions involved in moving goods from producer to consumer.”

However, the American Marketing Association (AMA) defines it as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

We interviewed seven experienced marketing professionals to find out their marketing definition. Here’s what they had to say:

Marketing is promotion

“I would define marketing as promoting yourself to potential customers in any form on any platform. This would include your average marketing: emails, billboards, and advertisements. I would also include things that you wouldn’t expect: employees’ social media presence, your brand image, and location. If your company is in front of a potential client, that’s marketing.”

– Savannah Thieneman, Marketing Manager at Slingshot

Marketing is educating and transforming

“Marketing is educating your potential customers, raising their desire for transformation, and increasing their ability to make an informed sales decision by differentiating your solutions from all their other options.

When marketing is done well, sales become easy, because the customer not only believes their situation can change but that your product will be a key part of that change.”

– Regina Anaejionu, Creative Director at byRegina

Marketing builds influence

“I have two ways to answer this. The first is what I say to a non-marketing person like my mother or if I truly only have less than 30 seconds to answer: ‘Marketing is influencing a person or business to take action.’ Whether one is interested in buying a bar of soap or hiring a consultant, the person or business needs to see a need, learn about what can meet it, and then make an informed decision to do so.

If I’m speaking among peers or one with business acumen, I usually answer the question this way: ‘Marketing allows consumers to become aware, build an opinion, make an informed decision, and at times, maintain a long-term connection with a specific brand. Companies cannot control what a consumer thinks about its brand, but it can use a variety of tools and messages to influence a consumer to take action.'”

– Heather Schueppert, Chief Marketing Officer for Unified Women’s Healthcare

Marketing executes on an initiative

“Marketing is the strategic and tactical execution of an initiative whose primary goal is to draw attention to a product or service. Marketing campaigns can be ongoing to appeal to a defined user base or can specifically target short term focuses. It’s important to segment tactics based on channels. For example, a digital strategy might focus on traffic and lead generation, while a traditional strategy might include attending trade shows to help build long term personal relationships. Depending on which route you choose, the tools and targeting can change dramatically. Overall, in today’s digital world, traditional marketing methods often work hand in hand with digital solutions.”

– Sumant Vasan, Director of Marketing at Confirm BioSciences

Marketing works like a spotlight

“Marketing is like having a spotlight and being able to choose where you shine it. A great marketer has the knowledge and skills necessary to operate that spotlight and shine in the direction that he wants, therefore bringing light and attention to the subject or company of his choice.”

– Ramon Khan, Online Marketing Director at National Air Warehouse

Marketing shows you as the solution

“Marketing is the art of convincing people that need your product or service that you’re the best option they have to either get more money or more free time. That’s about it.”

– Petra Odak, Chief Marketing Officer at Better Proposals

Marketing is all the things

“Marketing is all things you do to move your potential customer through the cycle of knowing, liking, trusting, buying, and hopefully recommending your product or services to others. Marketing starts with understanding your customers, so you design a product or service that is of value and then you create and build a relationship with your potential customer over time. You will use a combination of your own platforms, such as the packaging and website, and other platforms, such as social media or TV.”

Suzanne Brown, marketing and business consultant

Marketing sparks an emotion

While there’s truth in all of these marketing definitions, I think there’s also an immediate reaction that occurs with all marketing efforts that hasn’t been mentioned. Marketing inspires the initial feeling someone in your audience gets when they view your branding. As an example, I’ve been shopping for homeschool curriculums for one of my children. Some of the marketing has been outdated, boring, or unclear, which makes me wonder: if as a consumer, I can’t connect with these companies, how will they inspire or educate my child? In turn, I’ve been excited about purchasing from other brands with updated visuals or clear and enticing copy. This initial branding spark goes a long way in inspiring your clients to buy (or not).

While many marketers share varied marketing definitions, all of what’s been said here rings true. Marketing moves customers and prospects to connect, engage, purchase, or grow.

Erin Ollila
Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. After a 12+ year career in human resources, she's jumped headfirst into digital strategy. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media.
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