What is marketing and what is its purpose?

Dictionary.com defines marketing as “the action or business of promoting and selling a product or service, including market research and advertising.”

If you work in a marketing role like me, you probably have a hard time defining marketing even if you see and use it every day – the term marketing is a bit encompassing and variable for a simple definition.

This definition seems unnecessary.

The selling part, for example, overlaps a little too closely with the definition of “what is selling”, and the word advertising reminds me of Mad Men brainstorming sessions.

But as I dig deeper, I started to see that marketing actually overlaps heavily with advertising and sales. Marketing is present at all stages of the business, from start to finish.

At first I wondered why marketing was a necessary part when developing a product, sales pitch, or retail distribution. But it does make sense when you think about it – marketers have the firmest finger on the pulse of your consumer personality.

The purpose of marketing is to continually research and analyze your consumers, conduct focus groups, send out surveys, study online shopping habits, and ask an underlying question: “Where , when and how do our consumers want to communicate with our company? “

Here, let’s explore the goals of marketing, along with the types of marketing, the 4 Ps of marketing, and the difference between marketing and advertising.

Whether you’re a seasoned marketer looking to refresh your definitions or a newbie looking to understand what marketing is in the first place, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive in.

Modern Marketing started in the 1950s when people started using more than just print media to endorse a product. As television – and soon the Internet – entered homes, marketers could run entire campaigns across multiple platforms. And as you might expect, over the past 70 years, marketers have become increasingly important in fine-tuning the way a business sells a product to consumers in order to maximize success.

In fact, the fundamental purpose of marketing is to attract consumers to your brand through messaging. Ideally, this post will be useful and educational for your target audience so that you can convert consumers into leads.

Today there are literally dozens of places you can run a marketing campaign – where in the 21st century do you do it?

Types of Marketing

Where your marketing campaigns are delivered depends entirely on where your customers spend their time. It’s up to you to conduct market research that determines what types of marketing – and what combination of tools in each type – is best for building your brand. Here are several types of marketing that are relevant today, some of which have stood the test of time:

  • Online Marketing: Inspired by a Excedrin product campaign that took place online, the very idea of ​​having an internet presence for business reasons is a type of marketing in itself.
  • Search engine optimization: Short for “SEO”, this is the process of optimizing a website’s content so that it appears in search engine results. It is used by marketers to attract people who conduct research that implies that they want to know more about a particular industry.
  • Marketing blog: Blogs are no longer exclusive to the individual author. Brands are now blogging to write about their industry and spark the interest of potential customers who browse the Internet for information.
  • Social Media Marketing: Businesses can use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and similar social networks to create impressions for their audience over time.
  • Print Marketing: As newspapers and magazines gain a better understanding of who subscribes to their print material, businesses continue to sponsor articles, photographs and similar content in the publications their customers read.
  • Search Engine Marketing: This type of marketing is a little different from SEO, which is described above. Businesses can now pay a search engine to place links on pages in its index that get high exposure to their audience. (It’s a concept called “pay per click” – I’ll show you an example in the next section).
  • Video Marketing: Where once there were only advertisements, marketers are now investing in creating and publishing all kinds of videos that entertain and educate their primary customers.

Marketing and Advertising

If marketing is a wheel, advertising is.

Marketing involves product development, market research, product distribution, sales strategy, public relations, and customer support. Marketing is necessary at all stages of a company’s sales journey and can use many platforms, social media channels, and teams within their organization to identify their audience, connect with them, amplify their voice, and build loyalty. its mark over time.

On the other hand, advertising is only one part of marketing. It is a strategic effort, usually paid, to market a product or service within the framework of the more holistic objectives described above. Simply put, this is not the only method marketers use to sell a product.

Here’s an example (keep reading, there’s a quiz at the end):

Let’s say a company rolls out a brand new product and wants to create a campaign to promote that product to its customers. The channels of choice for this company are Facebook, Instagram, Google and its corporate website. He uses all these spaces to support his various campaigns each quarter and generate leads through these campaigns.

To broadcast the launch of his new product, he posts a downloadable product guide on his website, posts a video on Instagram demonstrating his new product, and invests in a series of sponsored Google search results directing traffic to a new product page on his website.

Now, which of the above decisions was marketing and which were advertising?

The advertisement took place on Instagram and Google. Instagram is generally not an advertising channel, but when used for branding, you can develop a subscriber base that is willing to do a gentle product announcement every now and then. Google was certainly used for advertising in this example; the company paid for space on Google – a program known as pay per click (PPC) – on which to generate traffic to a specific page focused on its product. Classic online advertising.

Where did the commercialization take place? It was a trick question, because marketing was the whole process. Aligning Instagram, Google, and its own website around a customer-centric initiative, the company ran a three-part marketing campaign that identified its audience, created a message for that audience, and delivered it to across the industry to maximize its impact.

The 4 Ps of Marketing

In the 1960s, E Jerome McCarthy came with the 4 Ps marketing: product, price, location, promotion.

Essentially, these 4 Ps explain how marketing interacts with every stage of the business.


Suppose you have an idea for a product that you want to sell your business. And after? You probably won’t be successful if you just start selling it.

Instead, you need your marketing team to do market research and answer some critical questions: Who is your target audience? Is there a suitable market for this product? What message will increase product sales and on which platforms? How should your product developers modify the product to increase the chances of success? What do the focus groups think about the product and what questions or hesitations do they have?

Marketers use the answers to these questions to help businesses understand product demand and increase product quality by raising concerns arising from focus groups or survey participants.


Your marketing team will check the prices of competitor’s products, or use focus groups and surveys, to estimate how much your ideal customer is willing to pay. Price too high and you will lose a strong customer base. Set it too low and you risk losing more money than you earn. Fortunately, marketers can use industry research and consumer analysis to gauge a good price range.


It is essential that your marketing department uses their understanding and analysis of your business’ consumers to come up with suggestions on how and where to sell your product. Maybe they think an ecommerce site works better than a retail store, or vice versa. Or maybe they can offer information on the most viable locations to sell your product, nationally and internationally.


This P is probably what you expected from the start: Promotion involves any online or print advertising, event or rebate that your marketing team creates to increase awareness and interest in your product and ultimately lead to more sales. . During this step, you will likely see methods such as PR campaigns, advertisements, or social media promotions.

Hope our definition and the four Ps help you understand the purpose of marketing and how to define it. Marketing cuts across all areas of a business, so it’s important that you understand how to use marketing to increase the efficiency and success of your business.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in May 2018 and has been updated for completeness.

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