What Is Marketing?

Marketing refers to activities undertaken by a company to promote the buying or selling of a product or service. Marketing includes advertising, selling, and delivering products to consumers or other businesses.

Professionals who work in a corporation's marketing and promotion departments seek to get the attention of key potential audiences through advertising. Promotions are targeted to certain audiences and may involve celebrity endorsements, catchy phrases or slogans, memorable packaging or graphic designs and overall media exposure.

Understanding Marketing

Marketing as a discipline involves all the actions a company undertakes to draw in customers and maintain relationships with them. Networking with potential or past clients is part of the work too, including writing thank you emails, playing golf with a prospective client, returning calls and emails quickly, and meeting with clients for coffee or a meal.

At its most basic, marketing seeks to match a company's products and services to customers who want access to those products. The matching of product to customer ultimately ensures profitability.

[Important: Marketing refers to any activities undertaken by a company to promote the buying or selling of a service.]

How Marketing Works

Product, price, place, and promotion are the Four Ps of marketing. The Four Ps collectively make up the essential mix a company needs to market a product or service. Neil Borden popularized the idea of the marketing mix and the concept of the Four Ps in the 1950s.

Product

Product refers to an item or items the business plans to offer to customers. The product should seek to fulfill an absence in the market, or fulfill consumer demand for a greater amount of a product already available. Before they can prepare an appropriate campaign, marketers need to understand what product is being sold, how it stands out from its competitors, whether the product can also be paired with a secondary product or product line, and whether there are substitute products in the market.

Price

Price refers to how much the company will sell the product for. When establishing a price, companies must give considerations to the unit cost price, marketing costs and distribution expenses. Companies must also consider the price of competing products in the marketplace and whether their proposed price point is sufficient to represent a reasonable alternative for consumers.

Place

Place refers to the distribution of the product. Key considerations include whether the company will sell the product through a physical storefront, online, or through both distribution channels. When it's sold in a storefront, what kind of product placement does it get? When it's sold online, what kind of digital product placement of sorts does it get?

Promotion

Promotion, the fourth P, refers to the integrated marketing communications campaign. Promotion includes a variety of activities such as advertising, selling, sales promotions, public relations, direct marketing, sponsorship, and guerrilla marketing.

Promotions will vary depending on what stage of the product life cycle the product is in. Marketers understand that consumers associate a product’s price and distribution with its quality, and they take this into account when devising the overall marketing strategy.

Special Considerations

As of 2017, approximately 40% of U.S. Internet users buy several items online per month. Experts expect online sales in the U.S. to increase from $504 billion in 2018 to over $735 billion by 2023.

Taking these statistics into consideration, it is vital for marketers to use online tools such as social media and digital advertising, both on website and mobile device applications, and internet forums. Considering an appropriate distribution channel for products purchased online is also an important step. Online marketing is a critical element of a complete marketing strategy.

Key Takeaways

  • Marketing refers to all activities a company takes to promote and sell products or services to consumers.
  • Marketing makes use of the "marketing mix," also known as the four Ps—product, price, place, and promotion.
  • At its core, marketing seeks to take a product or service, identify its ideal customers, and draw the customers' attention to the product or service available.