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What is marketing?


I’ve often been asked what is marketing?

It’s funny how a word we use so much in our daily lives or in discussions about business can be so hard to define. There are so many ways to look at what marketing can do for an organisation, an idea or even an individual. Add to that different areas of marketing: communication, pricing, promotion, position, product and you have an almost infinite number of ways marketing can have an effect.

So what is marketing?

For me, the ultimate goal of marketing is to affect positive change to an individual’s attitude. If you can change someone’s attitude you can change their behaviour and therefore change the way they act. For Barack Obama that’s trying to persuade swing voters that he’s the best choice to transform the fortunes of the US economy. For Apple that’s persuading people to choose a more expensive tablet product than their competitors because the better quality and ease of use is worth the additional dollars. For NAB that’s persuading people that they’re the more ethical and understanding financial institution to deal with.

In this case, marketing has many ways to make that change through persuasion: PR to communicate ideas, TV advertising to explain a new product or product feature, an easy to find and browse website to gather more information and evidence that a service is better than a competitor.

But most importantly, the goal of marketing is not just to persuade: it has to change they way someone acts. Marketing is important because of its influence on sales.

However, while marketing must always be measurable and add value to an organisation (its Return On Investment), its not always easy to measure how the process of persuasion has a direct effect on a sale. A key strategy for Mercedes advertising is actually for Mercedes buyers: people who appear to have already been persuaded to change their behaviour. In this case, the persuasion is to show these customers that they made the right decision to pay more for a car than other people because of the power of the Mercedes brand.

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