What Is Marketing?

Many issues in management seem to cause confusion. The first I see as a marketing professor is the simple question “What is marketing?” Lets get rid of some preconceptions first:

  • Marketing is not advertising,
  • Marketing is not selling, and
  • Marketing is not about persuading people to buy the product you want to make.

Marketing is not tricking people into buying something against their better judgment. Consumers are sometimes tricked but that isn’t the aim of the subject I teach.

We teach students that the easiest way to get people to want what you are offering is to find out what they want and offer it to them. Of course it is more complex than that, in later posts I will discuss issues such as the need to be profitable and unstable consumer wants. That said give consumers what they want and your task in persuading them to buy will be much easier.

Aiming to serve consumer tastes profitably is known as the marketing concept and is at the heart of what marketing should be, and often is. Every few years academics refine the definition of marketing concept. There remains room for improvement but Keith’s 1960 article is a good start: “We make and sell products for consumers“. I.e. we make what the consumers want not simply what it suits the company to sell.

Read: Keith, Robert J. “The Marketing Revolution.” The Journal of Marketing (1960): 35-38.