What is Marketing? 

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The American Marketing Association defines marketing as follows:

Marketing is 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.

Let us try to explore what this means in “simple words which anyone can understand.”

The definition refers to “offerings that have value” for a number of groups of people.  In other words, these are products that people want.  They can be goods (things you can buy and hold, like an iPhone) or services (things that people do for you, like legal services or performing a concert for you to watch). 

Marketing is meant to create, communicate, and deliver these offerings to people.  What this means is that marketing is not just about advertising.  Instead, marketing is about every step of the business process.  Marketing is about creating products.  When Apple looks at its customers’ desires and figures out what it wants to put in its latest version of the iPhone, it is engaged in marketing because it is creating a good that customers want.  Marketing is about communicating to customers.  This is the most familiar sense of marketing.  It has to do with letting your customers know what products you have and why they should want those products.  Marketing is about delivering the products.  This means that marketing is partly about figuring out how to get products from the company to the consumer.  When Netflix moved to streaming video and away from sending DVDs in the mail, it was engaged in marketing.  Marketing has to do with exchanging the offerings.  This means that marketing is about actually selling the products as well. When a company decides how much it will charge for its products, it is deciding about exchanging them for money.  Therefore, it is engaged in marketing.

Marketing is the “activity, set of institutions, and processes” for doing all these things.  That is, marketing is all the things a firm does to carry out the actions mentioned in the previous paragraph.  Marketing is also the “set of institutions” or the organization of the way that a company does this.  When a company sets up divisions or sections within itself for creating, communicating, and delivering products, it is engaged in marketing.

Thus, marketing is very hard to define in a few words.  It is all of the things that companies do (and the ways in which they do them) to decide what products to make, to tell customers about their products, to deliver those products to the point of sale, and to sell them.

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