Some people use ‘marketing’ as a fancy word for ‘selling’. Of course selling is part of the marketing process but marketing is much more than that. Or they use the word for all kinds of promotion and advertising. Again, these are part of marketing but not the whole thing.

Actually, marketing is much bigger and broader than promotion, advertising and selling. At its most comprehensive, marketing is an umbrella term that includes an enterprise’s position amongst rivals in the marketplace, its competitive advantage and its selection of viable market segments it will serve.

Having selected particular market segments (and by implication, chosen positively not to deal with other market segments), marketing also includes communicating with customers in those selected markets.

This communication is a dialogue, not a monologue. In other words, marketing has to include listening to customers – or market research.

Is it true that every time people attempt to satisfy their needs by means of an exchange, marketing is involved? Or
is it false? I once posed this question to a group of marketing students. Their answers were as varied and
entertaining as a circus. The conversations that flowed from this made me to do a rethink about what marketing
really is.
What is marketing? Several authors have defined marketing in various ways. The American Marketing Association
defines marketing as the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of
ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organisational goals. Cronje, et al
(2007:283) define marketing as consisting of management tasks and decisions directed at successfully meeting
opportunities and threats in a dynamic environment, by effectively developing and transferring a need-satisfying
market offering to consumers, in such a way that the objectives of the business, the consumer and society will be

Marketing is more than just banner ads, television commercials, and people standing on roadsides dressed up like the Statue of Liberty during tax time. It’s a complex set of activities and strategies that influences where we live, what we wear, how we conduct business, and how we spend our time and money. Marketing activities are conducted in an environment that changes quickly both in terms of customer demand and the methods by which consumers obtain information and make purchases.

The Art of the Exchange

In marketing, the act of obtaining a desired object from someone by offering something of value in return is called the exchange process. The exchange involves:

  • the customer (or buyer): a person or organization with a want or need who is willing to give money or some other personal resource to address this need
  • the product: a physical good, a service, experience or idea designed to fill the customer’s want or need
  • the provider (or seller): the company or organization offering a need-satisfying thing, which may be a product, service, experience or idea
  • the transaction: the terms around which both parties agree to trade value-for-value (most often, money for product)

Individuals on both sides try to maximize rewards and minimize costs in their transactions, in order to gain the most profitable outcomes. Ideally, everyone achieves a satisfactory level of reward.

Marketing Creates Value for Customers

According to the influential economist and Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt, the purpose of all business is to “find and keep customers.” Marketing is instrumental to helping businesses achieve this purpose. It’s a way of thinking about business, rather than just a collection of techniques. It’s much more than just advertising and selling stuff and collecting money. Marketing generates value by creating the connections between people and products, customers and companies.

Get in touch with us for a free online business analysis