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No Markidding - What Marketing Means to Us.

Posted by: Joe on December 2nd, 2014

I've been in marketing for 15 years. I've worked in marketing departments. I've taught college marketing courses. I've given marketing seminars. I love marketing as a profession. However, no matter where I go or what I'm doing, I've noticed that the term "marketing" means many things to many people. Often, I find that my definition does not match the explication offered by others.

Now, it's tempting at this point to explain why I am correct and why everyone else is in error, and I may do that. No offense. My blog. In truth, words have the meaning we assign them, and while we may all be one in a metaphysical sense, we individually do create our own realities, probably, depending on your stance regarding the science of free will.  And, with so many different universes out there, maybe the term "marketing" is still up for grabs. My goal with this web log is to describe what marketing means to us, here at Fluxx, in a way that will leave you so confident in our abilities that you'll pay us money to do marketing things for you. If that fails, perhaps it will just spark a little renewed perspective on how you might improve marketing in your organization. If that fails, join us for Bird Watching.  

So the American Association of Marketing defines marketing as:

"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."

And... we're done. It's that simple. Terrible logo, great definition of marketing. Seems so obvious. As I like to say, marketing is business minus accounting, but actually, you still might be positioning your company a certain way to your employees through the accounting practices you choose. So, marketing is business. And yet, more often than not, I find that when most people reference marketing, they are referring to advertising and/or PR activities solely. The definition above accurately includes "the process for creating offerings" or... the product.

None of this is new thinking or even slightly brilliant. Product or service development is a marketing function. It always has been. Some of you may recall from a Marketing 101 class that there are (at least) 4 Ps of marketing.

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place
  • Promotion

Product is listed first purposefully. It's arguably the most important, or it should be. Of course, there are many examples of generally bad products that have had success attributed to specific promotional tactics, as there are many examples of generally good products that have had success with weak promotional tactics. However, if you don't have the right offering for the right audience, hoping promotion saves you might not be the best strategy. But again, marketing and promotion are interchangeable words in many companies and organizations.    

For me, there's a real danger in looking at marketing as only promotion. During my time in the corporate world, I saw first hand how separating the product from "marketing" is a bad idea. One department develops something it subjectively thinks is good, often without reliable research. Next, they price it based on what they need or want to make, and they distribute it based on what is most convenient for the company. Then that product gets handed off to the "Marketing Department" with the expectation they will come up with a way to successfully "promote" it. Sound familiar? It's hardly a customer-centric approach. And if the product fails? Well, we needed better marketing, right? Right, but maybe not because the promotion wasn't good.  

"So what are you saying Joe? We should let the "Marketing Department" make all the decisions?"

Not at all. Maybe. I'm saying that marketing is business, and that looking at marketing holistically is, for us, a better path to success than relegating the term to one of its constituent parts. Everyone at your company is in some way involved in marketing. Recognizing that and developing appropriate feedback loops and internal practices is crucial, in my opinion, to overall marketing success. If you're a company of one, it's still very beneficial to understand how your offering, your pricing strategy, distribution strategy and promotion strategy all work together to create the entirety of the experience you provide your customers. I also see this separation damaging in the non-profit world, as many not-for-profits have development committees, marketing/PR committees, and programming committees that seldom interact strategically.

Holistic marketing is our culture here at Fluxx Marketing. It's why when potential clients ask us about building a new website, we ask about how many new sales they need to get next month or why when they ask for SEO services, we ask about specific business objectives for the year. We don't just build websites or manage social media or build SEO campaigns or create nifty media. We do these things with careful consideration of an overall marketing strategy based on our understanding of marketing and your business objectives, and if that strategy isn't fully developed, we help develop or articulate it. We consider all the Ps in what we do.

We don't want to sell services. We want to offer outcomes. In our experience, that can only happen when specific aspects of marketing are viewed within the context of the strategic whole. For us, this approach leads to a richer, fuller, more successful existence. No markidding, just great marketing. (See what happened there with the words?)

Now, who's up for birding?    

- Joe 

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