Defining marketing isn't simple. It encompasses a wide range of activities. Inside a business, marketing helps shape operations. Beyond the business, it connects with customers and engages with various stakeholders.

But an effective marketing strategy is critical for your business to succeed. In this article, we’ll look at the basics: What is marketing, what is its purpose, and what are some of its core concepts and considerations, from both an educational and an actionable approach.

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What is marketing?

what is marketing


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Marketing is anything a company does to generate interest for its products and services and convince customers to buy them. Of course, there are a lot of subsets and categories of marketing activities, like market research to gather data on your target audience, and public relations to manage your relationship and perception with the public.

You can have an entire marketing department or a small marketing team, or you can be a one-person show, doing all the marketing activities yourself. But as a general rule, as long as you’re developing strategies and content to reach out to your target audience, get sales, and manage relationships, you’re marketing.

What is the purpose of marketing?

The purpose of marketing is to identify potential customers and convert them into actual paying customers. A comprehensive marketing strategy will:

  • Understand your target audience to know who they are, what they like and don’t like, what they do, and what they need
  • Create brand awareness so your target audience knows about your brand and how it can help them
  • Generate sales by convincing the target audience that your solution is the right one for them
  • Build brand loyalty through stronger relationships with customers and the market as a whole
  • Expand and innovate by examining the market, your competition, and current trends to see how you can continue to build, grow, and express creativity and ingenuity
  • Manage brand identity and public perception of your brand through continuous communications

Types of marketing

There are several forms of marketing, but you should only focus only on the ones most effective for your business. Research can help you identify which marketing campaigns are more effective for reaching your audience than others. Here are some marketing types used today:

  • Internet marketing: Blogs, search engines, and online forums are the tools of the trade.
  • Social media marketing: Think TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. They’re platforms for nurturing customer relationships.
  • Video marketing: Videos are a marketer’s best friend. They have the power to teach and entertain.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO): SEO gets your website seen. Your content shows up in search engine results and catches the eye of industry-focused traffic.
  • Print marketing: This is the old-school approach. Signage, newspapers, and magazine ads can connect you to your potential customers.

The 4 Ps of marketing


The 4 Ps of marketing, also called the marketing mix, is a concept that was made popular in the 1960s. Since then, the framework has been widely accepted as the basic components of what it means to have a comprehensive marketing strategy. 

The 4 Ps has been adapted, added to, and debated widely among marketing professionals. Some have introduced extra Ps in the interest of being more thorough, including people, process, physical evidence, and more.

Let’s take a look at the core four.

1. Product

Product includes the actual goods or services that a company offers to its target audience. It includes decisions related to product design, quality, and features. It also includes things like branding, packaging, and the product life cycle. Even if you don’t have a physical item and you’re selling services or ideas, product still covers it.

The core idea here is that every single element related to your offerings matters. It all ties into the perception of your brand in the eyes of the market and your target audience, and it should all be considered as part of the proverbial package.

2. Price

Pricing your products and services is more than just picking a number and going for it. If you want to be strategic about it, pricing should be based on market research, like the pricing of your competitors, how the general market is doing, and how much your potential customers think your products and services are worth. 

In fact, a lot of marketing strategies are devoted to making sure customers think your brand is worth more money! At the end of the day, pricing is a delicate process that should be heavily based on research. 

3. Place (distribution)

How will potential customers be able to purchase your products or services? You might just be selling products online through your ecommerce store, which means you’ll likely focus on digital marketing strategies such as social media marketing, search engine marketing, search engine optimization, and inbound marketing.

While digital marketing strategies are necessary in today’s heavily digital world, you may also need to implement other marketing strategies and techniques related to your distribution.

For example, if you’re selling your products in stores, you’ll need to manage relationships with vendors and establishments, consider your placement on shelves inside those stores, and think about how you want your in-store marketing materials to be presented.

4. Promotion

Out of the whole marketing mix, this is the P that most often comes to mind when you try to answer the question “What is marketing?” Promotion is the act of engaging with the public in an attempt to build relationships and ultimately generate business. 

It includes everything from public relations, to traditional advertising like print marketing and TV ads, to newer strategies like content marketing and search engine optimization.

It’s the place where all the market research converges, where you create an effective marketing strategy that takes into account your brand’s identity, what you want that identity to be, and how your target audience will engage with it.

How to measure marketing success

For a business to succeed, it doesn’t need to change societal norms, but it does need to create consumer interest that boosts its bottom line. Here are the key metrics for assessing marketing effectiveness:

  • Total revenue: Essentially, all the money coming into your business. The more effective your marketing, the higher this number can climb.
  • Sales growth: This measures how well your revenue is increasing over time, comparing different periods.
  • Return on marketing investment: Simply put, your total revenue divided by your marketing spend.
  • Online conversion rates: This is the percentage of users who click an ad or fill a form, then buy something.
  • Customer loyalty: Multiple metrics can help here, including customer loyalty index (CLI), repeat purchase rate (RPR), and customer lifetime value (CLV or LTV). 

Marketing is everything all at once

Marketing is a massive umbrella and a narrow pathway, all at the same time. It’s where your knowledge, intuition, and observations come together. It’s where you connect and engage with your target audience, run constant experiments to see what works and what doesn’t, and refine your strategies with time and wisdom.

And in many cases, marketing is the make-or-break for your company’s success.

What is marketing FAQ

How are marketing and advertising different?

While advertising is an integral aspect of any digital or print marketing campaign, it’s just one slice of the pie. A complete marketing plan includes many other distinct tools and practices, including audience research, competitor analysis, public relations, and content marketing. 

What’s the difference between marketing and branding?

Branding is all about cultivating your company’s image using things like logos, style guidelines, and positioning. Marketing is about crafting and employing different strategies to promote that cultivated image.

How are marketing and sales different?

In the journey to gain customers, marketing and sales play different roles. Marketing aims to spark interest in a company’s product and make prospects curious to know more. On the other hand, sales strategies focus on turning potential customers into actual buyers.

What are the 4 principles of marketing?

Marketing involves many elements, but the heart of an effective marketing strategy lies in the 4 Ps: product, price, place, and promotion.

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