What is Marketing?

b2ap3_thumbnail_whatismarketingIf I was writing a book on marketing, my first chapter would define what marketing is.

Marketing often gets lumped into several meanings because it’s meaning has been adjusted and misused in our culture.  (Think how “run” can mean someone physically moving and also mean the active functionality of a software or mechanical device)

Here are Five Common Marketing Misnomers:

1) Marketing is Sales. 

This one always makes me grin. Marketing is not selling. It is the creation of tools and game plans for selling. Often small businesses think that hiring a marketer is hiring a sales person, that can lead to disenchantment. Great sales people are rarely also great marketers in the same way great marketers are rarely also great sales people. Usually you will have someone who is an expert in one of the fields and able to meander around in the second. A great marketer and a great salesperson make for an unstoppable team. One supporting the other and each building success.

Metaphor: Ina restaurant, think of the marketer as the one that designs all the colorful signs and menus while the sales person is the waiter. Can you run a restaurant with bad (or no) menus with confusing prices and no pictures? Yes, but not well and the waiter/sales person will have to work double time to make sales. Likewise could people still buy food without a waiter if they have good menus and signs? Yes, but they might not buy as much, stick around long or have as memorable experience.


2) Marketing is Graphic Design/ Websites/ Brochures.

Marketing uses graphic design, but ‘pretty and polished’ won’t make sales on their own. Marketing is also about identifying brand, narrowing down a target audience, finding who they are, what makes them tick and how to reach them. It’s about planning what design pieces are made, unifying themes throughout and scheduling when things will go out. A good marketing consultant will also help create a realistic budget and develop systems so your marketing results can be measured.


3) Marketing is Statistics.

Again, statistics play a role. However, if all you get are statistics and lists of names for your target demographic, then what? Without a good marketing consultant you’re no closer to knowing what tactics will most effectively get customers in your door.


4) Marketing is Advertisement Purchasing.

Some people calling themselves marketers do nothing but negotiate bulk purchase rates with newspapers, magazines, coupon-books, radio and tv-spots. This is perhaps the least useful type of ‘marketing’ for small businesses and should be avoided unless you have a distinct marketing tactic that calls for it. If your ‘marketing consultant’ is there just to sell you advertising, you can’t rely on them having your ultimate best interest at heart.


5) Marketing is Gimmickry.

It’s only gimmickry when  salespeople, designers, statisticians or advertising sales people are claiming to be marketers.

Real marketing…

  • Is done with knowledge of how sales people operate and what base they need for the best results.
  • Selects the right type of branding needed and arranged for perfect graphic design support to build websites, brochures, mailers, etc.
  • Finds out what your target market is, then researches that demographic and digs into their psyche, translating the information into strategies, budgets, and scheduled plans.
  • Doesn’t just try to sell your advertising spots or logo placements. Those are only suggested after all the previously mentioned elements are in place, and only if it meets with the branding, target market, budget and planning that was developed.


In short, marketing is often misunderstood because it’s many things, but never just one tiny piece. When shopping for a small business marketing consultant, make sure you’re not getting one of these above types of ‘marketers’ but instead getting someone who supports all of those pieces together.

If you’re in Louisville, KY or New Albany, IN and looking for a true marketing consultant for your small business, call me at (502) 718-3438 or email me at celia@tuneupmymarketing.com. You’ll get local marketing expertise from a Kentuckiana native. We specialize in helping service-based, Louisville small businesses grow their businesses, get more customers and control their marketing into manageable chunks.

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