Marketing Food for Thought

t_newhard_kHow well do you know grammar? When do you use “its” or “it’s”? When do you say “who” or “whom”? Does it drive you nuts when people say that something is “ironic” when it is actually “coincidental?” Call me weird, but I like to use grammar and words properly, most of the time. That brings me to the word “marketing.” What does it mean?

The Problem

The American Marketing Association defines marketing 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.[1] The term developed from the original meaning which referred literally to going to a market to buy or sell goods or services.

A close examination of this definition reveals that marketing involves many things in order to get a product to market. Please allow me to expound an analogy that might shed some light on this.

Think about how you get energy from food. Let’s call the process “digestion.” A cursory overview of this process reveals that food enters the mouth to be chewed, it is then swallowed down the esophagus, chemically separated in the stomach, has nutrients extracted in the small intestine, water extracted in the large intestine, and then, well, you know.

All the parts of the process work together to achieve a common end, getting energy from food. In the process of digestion, which part of the body does the digesting? The answer is none of them. They all work together to accomplish digestion, but no individual part of the process does what doctors would call digestion. The parts do things called mastication, absorption, and so on.

In the process of marketing, which part actually does the marketing? Is it sales? Is it graphic design? SEO? Social Media Marketing? The answer is none of them. They all contribute to accomplish marketing, but none of them do the marketing. They do things called cold calling, various forms of design, back-linking and active listening.

The Solution

If you’re guilty of calling a part of the marketing process “marketing,” you’re not alone, just missing it a bit. When looking at your marketing, think of it as a process, not a series of individual parts. Think of it strategically, not tactically. An easy way to do this is to have this dialogue with yourself or with those who guide your marketing strategy:

“Our goal is to [ put your S.M.A.R.T* goal here ] over the next [amount of time]. To do this our marketing strategy will be to [place your brief strategy statement here]. We will accomplish this strategy by [place tactics (SEO, advertising, etc) here].”

After having this high-level dialogue, you should better understand what marketing is for your organization. You can then delve into the intricacies of key performance metrics, execution plans, and operational alignment strategies. Remember, your marketing is not individual processes or tactics. It is a strategy process comprised of many parts, processes or tactics that takes your products and/or services to market in the most effective way possible.

*S.M.A.R.T. goal: S= specific M=measurable A= attainable R= relevant T= time-bound