What Is Marketing?


Our definition: All the activities involved in understanding and engaging a market to develop and promote products or services.

Official definition: “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large” (American Marketing Association).

Origins: Between the 1500s and 1800s, marketing simply meant “buying and selling,” from the verb to market.

Marketing is not:

  • One-way communication. With the explosion of the Internet and social media, marketing has become a collaborative, two-way conversation—more like traditional sales than traditional advertising.
  • Advertising. Marketing encompasses activities from market research and product pricing to advertising and promotions. Advertising is a narrow subset of marketing, a specific tool and tactic within the umbrella of marketing.
  • Branding. While branding and marketing should be intimately related, marketing is more about the customer than the company. Once branding answers the question, “What kind of company produces this product?” marketing steps in to ask, “What need does this product fill? How will it reach customers? How will it affect their perception of the brand?”