What Is Marketing? A Practical Definition for Small Business Owners

What is the definition of marketing? It seems like everyone has a different answer, but when it comes down to it, it’s YOUR answer that is most important. That’s because you are the one who has to determine whether or not your marketing is working; whether it is producing a positive return on investment.

As a business owner you may also be working with a business or marketing coach who is assisting you with developing your marketing plan, developing marketing campaigns and then understanding what results you’re getting and what they mean for your business.

You might attend a marketing seminar or read a business book. You might even talk to your cousin’s husband’s brother’s father who just happens to be a successful CEO.

Regardless of who you turn to for expert guidance on marketing and other aspects of building your business, it’s important to understand how you define marketing and how they define marketing so that you’re always comparing apples to apples.

What Marketing ISN’T

Before we go into what marketing IS, let’s talk a bit about what it isn’t. Marketing isn’t your website; although your website is a part of your marketing. It isn’t advertising, although advertising also happens to be part of the marketing process for many companies.

Further more, marketing isn’t direct mail, ads, flyers, brochures, yellow pages, seminars, business cards, your logo or any other such thing. These items are all things you may (or may not) use during the process of marketing, but they are decidedly not marketing in and of themselves.

What Marketing IS

Marketing is the process by which you acquire and retain customers. It involves the process of reaching out to your target audience to introduce them to your business and make them aware that you exist.

It involves the process of informing those prospective customers that you know and understand their fears, frustrations and desires; that you have developed a solution that they can rely on and that your solution is better than the other available options for a variety of reasons.

Marketing is the process through which prospects are integrated into your business and become customers for the first time; and it’s the process by which pre-existing customers are communicated with, supported and, ultimately, sold to on an on-going basis.

Marketing, as it turns out, is a fancy word for sales.

Yes, You Need Marketing To Survive

Even if your business relies completely on word-of-mouth referrals to acquire new business and even if customers come back to do business with you again and again without you having to so much as lift a finger, it’s because of marketing.

Marketing is about how you communicate with your prospects and customers. It’s about how you talk to them (instead of “at” them) before, during and after the process of selling to them.

Ultimately, marketing is about you. It’s about making the process of researching and purchasing a product or service fun and enjoyable.

Do it well and people really will beat a path to your door. Do it poorly and your business will be like that old tree, falling down in the forest with no one to hear.