What is Marketing?

What is Marketing? How does it work? How can you use this information? My intentions are to answer these questions and clear up the common misconceptions to help you avoid the pitfalls that working with only a partial understanding of marketing can put on your path to success.

What is Marketing?

In its most rudimentary form, Marketing is a key component to your business operations. But, this only defines the role “Marketing” plays in business, not how it functions. The function of marketing is commonly misunderstood – or more accurately, the understanding is incomplete.

Many small business owners, including some real estate professionals, only have HALF of the picture about marketing. With only half of the picture, knowing what effects can be anticipated from marketing efforts is askew making it all the more difficult to fill in the blanks when something doesn’t work like expected.

A little bit of knowledge can be dangerous or, in relation to marketing, costly. Only half of the picture about marketing usually translates into random expenses for marketing and promotional materials and getting minimal results. If you don’t have the whole picture, the half that’s left undone will probably come back to haunt you -- and it usually will cost you plenty of money.

A lack of a plan is a plan nonetheless, just not nearly as effective. The same applies to having half of a plan. Anything half done is rarely, if ever, rewarded. You wouldn’t expect to get your commission check with only half of the transaction completed, would you?

Ok, I’ll get to the point… What is marketing?

Marketing 101

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to answer the question, What is Marketing? If you ask 100 different marketing professionals you may get 100 different answers – and they all may be correct. Being a marketing professional myself, I too will give it my best and attempt to define marketing as simply as I can.

I’ll start with the easy part -- the half of a definition that is most commonly understood as marketing.

The easy to understand half of "what is marketing?"...

Marketing – (half of a definition) is the tools to communicate your offer of service/products to the public in an attempt to encourage sales.

In real estate marketing, this part comes in a vast array of options – postcards, flyers, thank-you notes, business cards, magnets, a round of golf, gadgets, advertising, dinner, website, networking, closing gifts, email, plus, plus, plus – but each of these do the same thing. They communicate your offer of service.

Without a doubt, finding cool marketing products is a lot of fun. You run across a postcard in your mailbox that gives you a belly laugh and you think, “That is GREAT, I want to use it with my customers.” Or you get a magnet or gadget from a vendor and you think, “WOW! I want some of these to give out, too.”

This half is easily understood because we are all bombarded with offers for sale of services and products every day of our lives from businesses who want our money.

Clearly, this half does work. Coca-Cola didn’t get where they are simply by putting their product in a store and hoping for the best! They tell us, repeatedly, why we should choose their drink over any other drink that is available on the market today.

Click here to read about some important points you need to understand about how marketing works.

The not so easily understood half of marketing is not seen by the public. It’s done before the fun stuff ever reaches your mailbox, email, ears, eyes, etc.

The other half of "what is marketing?"…

Marketing – (the other half of a definition) is to define the goals, conduct market research and analysis to determine the possibility of success, develop a strategy (plan) to accomplish the goals and put the plan into action.

Yawn… Ewwwww! Sounds pretty time-consuming and boring to me -- shoot, it was hard just to come up with this definition without getting sleepy! Maybe this is why it’s not the focus when marketing is mentioned. Many people, me included, often times avoid doing the tougher planning part first.

I’m sorry to say, overlooking this part doesn’t work very well! I’ve tried! On many occasions, when it came to planning, I just didn’t want to play. It wasn’t just about business either… among other things, I would treat art compositions, my personal budget, car maintenance, and even some relationships, the same way. I’d say, “Let’s blow past the hard stuff and have fun.” How did this approach work for me? Well… sadly, most turned out mediocre at best.

Ok, maybe it does work if mediocre is all you’re looking for in your business. But, if you’re anything like me, mediocre is not what you dreamed your business would look like.

And for the record, I have learned a valuable lesson through my mediocre achievements… planning RULES! Of course, planning is no guarantee of success, but it has put the odds a bit more in my favor. Even though the examples I gave are not directly related to marketing, it’s not much different, planning is planning. It’s just a different goal, strategy, etc.

As Aristotle put it, “Well begun is half done.” I’d have to add in -- just make sure that the half you choose to get done first is the planning half.

The bright side of marketing research, analysis and strategy

Let’s shift the perspective a bit to help you see marketing research, analysis and strategy for what it is… crucial to your time management! That may seem odd, but if you think of this half of the marketing process as planning for your success BEFORE you begin, this half doesn’t look so bad after all.

Planning your marketing takes much of the guesswork out of how to generate sales and keeps you from wasting your valuable time.

This is where you take a good hard look at your business from the outside in. Be objective – brainstorm all the possibilities! Consider your customers and your capabilities to give them what they need. Look at it ALL! Look at the obstacles you may face, consider what might interfere with your success, consider ways to get over the humps and through the valleys to where your commission checks are waiting.

This is the type of preliminary research and planning that takes place in this section.

It sounds liberating, doesn’t it?

If you know what you might face in your business, have looked at possible solutions to those obstacles if they were to occur, and you’ve found ways to work through difficult situations, it leaves very little room for the feelings of panic, surprise or discomfort that often accompany pure speculation or flying by the seat of your pants. You are more relaxed and ready for what comes.

Once you have completed the planning part, you simply follow the plan, review, track, and measure your success. The rest of your time is relatively FREE to do what you need to do – serve your customers well.

Ok, so here is my complete answer to the question,

“What is Marketing?”

Marketing is a function of business used to define sales goals, conduct market research and analysis to determine the possibility of success, develop a strategy (plan) to accomplish the goals, choose the best approach for implementation and put the plan into action utilizing tools to communicate the offer of service/product to the public to encourage sales.

Whew… long-winded, isn’t it? And, somehow, I feel that this just doesn’t do it justice. So goes the life of a marketing professional.

Visit my website often to see my section on How to Build Your Marketing Plan – a step-by-step guide to get your marketing plan in gear.

Click here to go back from What is Marketing to my Home Page