The Internet is a wonderful resource that places a tremendous amount of knowledge and real-life experience at your fingertips. However, it’s often easy to walk away with confused concepts and terms when trying to learn a business topic. This especially seems to be the case when it comes to “marketing.” Unfortunately, some sources present the scope of marketing in a very limited way and many others speak of their work in applying specific marketing activities as if they were the whole of marketing.
What is marketing? Ask ten people and you’ll probably get ten answers. The best marketing professor I’ve ever had taught an Advertising Management class at Portland State University.
Why do I believe he was the best? Because he required the entire class to memorize the most accepted definition of marketing at that time and publicly recite it at his choosing every time we met. It has stood the test of time as economies and technologies have evolved and has helped me evaluate emerging marketing trends, techniques and technologies within a solid framework and without confusion. Let me share it with you:
"Marketing is a set of interrelated business activities designed, first, to identify the wants and needs of a market and, second, to produce, price, place and promote at an optimum profit."
Notice the activities that are included in the marketing definition: Market Research, Market Segmentation, Pricing Strategies, Product Marketing, Distribution Strategies and Promotional Strategies.
Also, notice that the marketing activities are focused on a single, specific result – an optimum profit. It’s critical to remember that unprofitable businesses simply do not survive. A business may be able to sustain losses for a period of time, but unless the losses are overcome, it will eventually collapse and close its doors forever.
What about non-profits? Non-profits conduct the very same marketing activities and need to pay close attention to costs and break-even analyses. With this marketing definition in mind, it’s easy to understand why many believe that most business failures are the result of inadequate marketing.