At times, I encounter successful businesspeople who say that they do just fine without marketing. To explain this position, I hear things like “I don't do marketing, I just do word-of-mouth.” At other times, people express very negative sentiments toward marketers in general and toward attempts at marketing to them in particular.
When I hear these kinds of statements, I realize that there's still a big need for marketing education simply because there's too many misconceptions about what marketing actually is and how it can be done going forward. In this post, I will disentangle a few common misconceptions and conclude with what marketing is and should be all about:
- Sales, at least in the old-fashioned sense of the word, is not synonymous with marketing, it is merely one way in which marketing can be implemented.
- Advertising is also not the same as marketing even if many seem to blame all marketers for annoying outbound advertising messages.
- You cannot do your own word-of-mouth marketing as word-of-mouth implies that there is a third party talking about you.
It should be noted that sales as we know it is undergoing a transformation toward being ever-more relationship-oriented, helpful, long-term, and valuable to customers and that sales is less singularly focused on merely converting prospects into buying clients. In that regard, sales is becoming more similar to marketing which is inherently broader in its scope than traditional outbound sales efforts.
While marketing of the past may have turned many into cynics, I remember attending an American Marketing Association Educators' Conference where a new definition of marketing was unveiled on the main stage to much pomp and circumstance and it provided a step toward a more contemporary view of marketing. Now I dug up the latest edition of this ever-changing definition and here it comes:
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. (American Marketing Association, 2013)
This is a definition which is very all-encompassing and with this perspective in mind, I think it is hard to see how a business can be successful without doing marketing. When you do well as a business, it comes from providing value to clients and other stakeholders resulting in high degrees of customer satisfaction. High degrees of customer satisfaction, in turn, results in two great rewards: word-of-mouth and customer loyalty. If that is not marketing, I don't know what is!