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What Is Marketing?

Updated: Mar 1, 2020

Everything, Everything

According to management expert Peter Drucker, marketing is how you run your business from your customers’ point of view. It’s everything you do—everything, everything, everything—that impacts your customers’ perceptions of your brand, products and services.

That includes how you define and communicate your mission and immediate objectives. It includes your strengths and weaknesses and how you anticipate and respond to opportunities and threats.

It includes how you identify and build relationships with target markets and how you create, price, deliver and promote products that satisfy their needs and wants. It even includes how you do your accounting, manage your projects and treat your employees.

Like I said, it’s everything.

It’s sometimes necessary to break marketing down into separate, discrete tactics to take a closer look, but that’s kind of like dissecting a dead pig. You can only learn so much about a pig when it’s dead. To really understand a pig, you have to observe a live one.

The same is true of marketing.

Even though marketing is made up of hundreds of strategies, tactics and concepts, don’t limit your understanding of marketing by reducing it to its dead, discrete parts. Observe how all the parts and pieces work together in the real world—or how they don’t.

When you’re trying to convince someone that an idea is true, you’re marketing. When you’re trying to get someone to go out with you, you’re marketing. When you’re trying to land a job, you’re marketing.

Everyone Does It

Everyone is marketing. Some just do it better than others. Some have a strategy, while others just let the chips fall where they may. That generally doesn’t go well—at least not for the long term.

When you’re shopping on the Internet for shoes or in a department store for jeans or when you’re trying to decide which dessert to order at the end of a meal, consider everything that had to be accomplished behind the scenes to bring you to that moment—the planning and prioritizing, the negotiating and ordering, the designing, creating and delivering, not to mention whatever it was that got you to the website or in the door in the first place.

It’s all marketing. Why? Because you can’t have one part of it without all the others.

No singular marketing principle or tactic stands alone. Each is part of a larger organic whole, all operating at the same time. Like the parts of a living pig.

At its core, marketing is a philosophy that says, “People matter.” Customers, employees, and everyone else who’s watching you or could potentially be impacted by your actions—they all matter.

Bottom Line

That’s why one of the first principles of marketing is to treat every person like a potential customer—no matter how many times you interact with them and no matter how many times they turn you down. That’s good marketing, and it’s good business.

All the little day-to-day actions and interactions build up over time to become the broader public’s perception of your brand’s value. That collective perception is what puts you in business, and it’s also what keeps you there.


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