What is marketing?

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

I ran a seminar on Friday for independent schools. It’s designed as a kind of Marketing 101. I always enjoy these mostly because those attending seem highly motivated and eager to learn.

The best part of running seminars is when I get surprised or challenged. Basically, because that’s when I learn something too. Someone asked me how do you define marketing? I didn’t have a ready made answer, so I did a little exercise where everyone had a go at definining it, including me.

There were some good answers, but I (smugly) liked what I came up with in the moment. It goes something like this:

Marketing is the process of getting stakeholders to engage in relationships that create value

It’s not, fundamentally, about “awareness” or “image”; but about facilitating productive relationships. Much of the marketing I see would not satisfy this definition because it is instrumental – basically it’s aim is to make money for the seller by trying to manipulate the buyer. Buyers have to waste time and energy decoding marketing messages for the truth, and lawmakers have to create more and more regulations – and thus large frictional costs – to protect us from sellers’ inability to create genuine synergy with buyers.

And by value, I don’t just mean profit, which again is what many marketing people really mean by the word. A powerful relationship is based on rich exchange, not just parting with cash for a good or service.

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