What is marketing anyway?
That’s the question I get asked the most about this course. Well, here’s the official answer: “Marketing is about determining the value of your product or service and communicating that information to customers” (Government of Canada website). Personally, I think of marketing as a form of psychology because you need to understand what motivates people to be effective (which, at it’s best, is helpful and at it’s worse is manipulative).
You mean marketing is advertising?
No. Advertising is only one part of marketing. Advertising creates the message to promote the product or service. When you see a commercial or see an ad online telling you how great a certain car is, that’s advertising.
Marketing covers the entire life cycle of a service or product (research, design, manufacturing, distribution, advertising, sales, distribution and community relations). For a car, marketing begins when a team sits down and asks, What does the public want next in a car?
The marketing team doesn’t try to answer this question themselves. A lot of money and a lot of jobs rely on their decisions. Instead, they go out and conduct market research to see what the trends and demands are (or what demands can be created). For example, do you think people knew they wanted a sunroof in the back of their SUV so they could transport tall items like surf boards? Probably not, but that’s exactly the kind of demand Honda was trying to create when they designed the Element.
Isn’t marketing all about money?
Yes and no. There’s no denying that marketing involves money. Money is always involved when someone sells and someone else buys, but marketing isn’t only about products (things that you can touch). It’s also about services or ideas. When Plan Canada shows you children who need help, that’s part of a marketing plan. When you raise money for Haiti, that too is part of a marketing plan. Any time you need to convince people that they need to take action or to buy a product or to vote for a certain political party, that’s a marketing plan in action.
Businesses, governments, charities and non-profit organizations all need marketing plans in one form or another and so do you. Have you ever wanted your parents to buy you something particularly special for Christmas? Maybe you negotiated extra chores or responsibilities in exchange. Your campaign, from start to finish, was a form of marketing. Thinking about getting a job? That’s marketing too.