Let's dive right in. What is "digital marketing?"
You can see straight away that it's not the only type of marketing. It's just one of several marketing disciplines.
Those disciplines include things like:
If you Google marketing, you will see dozens of different types listed. And many of them can be done digitally or traditionally.
To make sure you have a solid foundation, we will put the digital aspect aside for this chapter and concentrate on what marketing is, broadly speaking.
We'll come back to the digital part in the next chapter.
Deconstruct Marketing Stereotypes
What comes to mind when you hear the word marketing?
If someone introduces themselves to you as a marketer, what is your gut reaction?
The answers vary from person to person. Some people are fascinated by how advertising is created; some are wary of being sold something, others are baffled by marketing jargon or don't understand the profession in general.
You may even meet people who see marketers as masters of manipulation. In fact, tongue firmly in cheek, the New York Times described marketing as "the art of telling stories so enthralling that people lose track of their wallets." Check out the article here!
The truth of the matter is that almost every organization benefits from marketing, no matter how big or small they are - or their industry. Even nonprofits benefit! Greenpeace is a good example: although this organization is as anti-consumerist as possible, it has established itself as a global benchmark in branding, advertising, and street marketing - all disciplines within the marketing profession.
Discover the Purpose of Marketing
Now that you know what marketing isn't, you'll have no problem understanding what it is.
Let's look at three definitions:
1. The Oxford Dictionary
In the Oxford Dictionary, marketing is defined as:
"The activity of presenting, advertising and selling a company’s products or services in the best possible way."
This general definition is a good place to start, but it's basic and perhaps too vague.
2. A More Modern Approach
There's been a trend in the last two or three decades to create much more all-encompassing definitions that include some recent innovations.
Here's an example:
"All interactions between your organization and someone outside of your organization are marketing opportunities. Marketing is: the truth made fascinating; it is the art of changing your mind; it's also an opportunity to earn money while building lasting relationships with members of your community or with other organizations" - Jay Conrad Levinson, author of Guerilla Marketing
This definition suggests that the marketing scope extends well beyond understanding, forecasting, and stimulating consumer needs. It emphasizes truth, the power of persuasion, relationships, and opportunity.
If you follow this definition, it also means that every communication the company has with the outside world is a marketing opportunity. It would be hard to pin down from an organizational perspective, which explains why it hasn't been accepted and used.
Then what definition should I use?
Defining something isn't as important as understanding it. So here is one that is easier to understand and remember.
The term marketing comes from the concept of a market.
3. A "Market" Approach
A market is where supply meets demand, so marketing consists of the activity that helps supply meet the demand.
Use the Marketing Mix
If I had to pick out just one fundamental marketing concept, what would it be?
No hesitation here: the marketing mix.
Also known as the 4Ps of marketing, this model allows you to analyze and define the four pillars of any marketing strategy.
As you can see from the illustration, these four pillars are:
Product: What product(s), service(s), or idea(s) are you bringing to market? Another word for this is your offer.
Price: If your offer requires payment, what financial compensation are you asking for? If not, what's your business model? If you have competitors, what pricing policy do they use?
Place: Will customers pick up the product or will you send it to them? Are you going to operate a physical store, an online store, or both?
Promotion: How will you communicate your offer to your market? What communication channels will you use? What strategies will you use?
You can see your marketing mix as a recipe for business growth, with each of the pillars serving as an ingredient. Using this model, you can structure your approach and ask yourself the right questions to achieve the expected result.
Since your goals are unique to your organization, your marketing mix must be tailor-made as well.
If you're exploring unfamiliar or new markets (i.e., space tourism 🚀), your mix will certainly be unique. By contrast, if you're in a very mature market, it'd be a shame to reinvent the wheel completely. Learn from the successes and mistakes of your competitors.
For example, think about fast food chains. Once they find and perfect a marketing mix that works at one location, they duplicate it, perhaps with some adaptations from one market to another. This way, they can rapidly expand over entire regions while minimizing risk. If you are a franchisee of one of these chains, you are more or less paying to use the franchise marketing mix.
You can't be sure that your competitor's marketing strategy will work for you - or that a plan designed for the US or the UK market will work in China. Similarly, a plan that works very well today may be obsolete next year. You should think of your organization's marketing-mix as a context dependent, continuously-adapting strategy.
In this chapter, you learned:
How to identify the real value marketing brings to a company, i.e., finding economic opportunities and promoting the meeting between supply and demand.
How to move from theory to operation using the marketing-mix concept. It enables organizations to build a marketing strategy based on four solid pillars.
Now that you understand what marketing is (and what it isn't), you're ready to explore digital marketing in the next chapter.