Friday, July 25, 2014

Define Marketing!

The American Marketing Association defines marketing as:
"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. (Approved July 2013)"

The All-Knowing-Wikipedia lists marketing as:
"Marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of selling that product or service."

What Is Marketing?
First, I want to make mention that distinguishing marketing from pure advertising is of utmost importance in successfully harnessing the full scope and power of marketing. You can read some of my thoughts on this matter in specific relations to Rehab Business in this post: "Marketing vs. Advertising in Rehab Business".

So what IS marketing? There are so many definitions, angles, perspectives, goals, fortes, and points of focus - but - when you really spin it all down, there are two ways to look at marketing.
1) The study of marketing.
2) The practice of marketing.

And, while the definition of marketing is liable to change over the years, let me draw from my favorite definition of economics to provide a working template in defining "marketing": "Economics is the study of how wealth is created and distributed."

So great! SO SIMPLE! Perfect. As I tried to model my personal definition for "marketing" after this template, the problem became more complex. There existed the study of marketing as well as the ACT (or practice) of marketing. I thought about it a little further and finally came to a mix of words I liked. Here are my definitions:

Marketing (the study of): Marketing is the study of interests, intentions, and behaviors in the marketplace.

<< for the purpose of.... >>

Marketing (the practice of): Marketing is the art and science of creating consumer demand.

Through my studies and reflections, I conceived of marketing as having four actions: discerning demand, driving demand, determining future demand, and directing future demand. However, a four part definition just wasn't simple enough for me. Reflecting on the definitions I finally came to: I realized that to create demand, you must already have discerned where it has been and currently is. It is only with that data that you can drive it forward. And, having driven it forward, one can now direct it's path and easily determine it's long term trends with incremental market analyses.

All well and good, right?

But how is it DONE? The study of the marketplace is more scientific than artistic, but the practice? Well, that's the golden ticket, isn't it?

I think it is important to recognize that the four actions in the act of marketing starts as a demand side activity. It gradually becomes a supply side event. However, the ENTIRETY of marketing is ALWAYS consumer focused.

Data? Statistics? Information? Analysis? Bah! That isn't interesting to someone's emotional core. It isn't interesting to WHO THEY ARE. All that mumbo jumbo may be interesting to the party selling their stuff... but, it is the job of the supplier to effectively market their dry information into something fruitful.

I suggest one makes dry information tasty the same way chefs do. To successfully market dry information, one must massage it, marinate it, season it, sear it, and present it as a beautiful dish which is appealing to the eye, savory to the soul, and healing to the heart. (To which my wife said, when I was proof-reading this to her, "I want steak!!")

See! THAT is marketing!

In fact, I know for a fact that I'm going to be hearing about nothing but me cooking up some steak for my wifey for the perceivable future until said steak is grilled by me and consumed by her -- I have created demand, and, I know the direction it is going. Can I get a #KABOOM?!

The practice of marketing promotes a brand experience through TWO WAY interactions between consumer and company. Good marketing gets people excited about a product, service, and/or brand. It is best done in manners, tactics, strategies, and campaigns that connect with core of human experience -- it is best done in a way that connects with PEOPLE rather than information. The consumer should feel like they are part of the movement, part of club, and, "in" on the secret.

This is in stark contrast to advertising - which merely informs, makes information available, presents data, options, and events -- for lack of a better description... advertisement without marketing savvy becomes a one way informational blah from company to consumer... it lacks personability, and therefore, lacks the critical element of appealing to the prospective consumer's human experience.

In my studies of marketing content in pursuit of an MBA, I spend far more time analyzing market behaviors and their numbers than I do creating a campaign to inform the consumer. Marketing has far more to do with the position of players in the market -- it is helpful viewing each piece like a that in a game of chess. Where are the pieces now? Where do they belong? Where should they go? Where am I vulnerable? Where am I strong? Where is my competition in such regards? What might happen five moves from now? Where then should I go? And, how should I about it?


Marketing is the study of interests, intentions, and behaviors in the marketplace for the purpose of creating consumer demand.

Of course! It is an art. And, yes, it is a science. There are a lot of numbers to crunch in true marketing practice.  You must know where to look, what to look for, how to crunch the information into something useful, and then convey it as a logical action plan. However, the expression to the consumer MUST be personal, human, deep, emotional, and genuine. Therein lies the art of marketing.

Some Closing Thoughts
It is easy to say that marketing is X, Y, and/or Z as a conversational posture that consumers should be choosing US! Not someone else...

I challenge you: who is likely part of that conversation? Probably NOT the consumer. Good marketing communicates with the consumer in their language, with their values, in best consideration of their interests. Good marketing sees the big picture as many, very important little ones.

Good marketing defines itself through the value it creates, rather than the value that already exists.

Until I become older and wiser, this is how I define marketing. How about you?
Take care & Talk soon!
-Dr. Ben Fung

PS. Interested in some related readings?
Check out my Consumer Awareness series on Access to Physical Therapists. These posts are a bit over a year old so my stance on some of the topics may have changed since... nevertheless, they are oldies & goodies :) Enjoy!

Here  is Part 1 & Part 2.


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