What is marketing? It's much more than advertising.

What is Marketing? It’s More Than Just Advertising

What is marketing? Many people equate it solely with advertising, which irks me. I even caught Shama Kabani doing this in her book The Zen of Social Media Marketing. On page 48, she use the definition of “promoting a product or a service to increase sales.” Not true. It is a lot more than advertising.

I suspect and hope that Kabani knows better and needed this simplified definition in the context of her book.

The Classic Four Ps of Marketing

Promotion, such as advertising, is just one of the historic 4 Ps:

  • Product: features, design, branding, packaging, sizes, services, warranties, returns
  • Price: list price, discounting, payment period, credit terms
  • Placement (or distribution): inventory, transportation, distribution points and channels, regional availability
  • Promotion: sales force, advertising, public relations, direct marketing

The American Marketing Association gives the formal definition of “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” (emphasis added!).

Four More Ps

In their classic textbook on the subject, Phillip Kotler and Kevin Keller include 4 other Ps as well:

  • People: not just those inside an organization who carry out marketing, but the humanness of clients, consumers, vendors, and partners
  • Processes: discipline, structure, and creativity
  • Programs: specific consumer-facing activities
  • Performance: metrics and constant improvement

Perhaps most resonant for me, though, is the definition Kotler and Keller use:

Marketing is about identifying and meeting human and social needs.

To me, you can just as easily write

Social goods are about identifying and meeting human and social needs.

Social goods are, and should be, all about marketing, which is much more than advertising.

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