Mobile and Tablet Marketing

You Don’t Know what Marketing is

Have you given much thought to the word Marketing? As with many words, the definition has been distorted and redefined over time. Wikipedia provides the following definition:

Marketing is an ongoing process of planning and executing the marketing mix (Product, Price, Place, Promotion often referred to as the 4 Ps) for products, services or ideas to create exchange between individuals and organizations. Wikipedia

searsandroebuck1900Sounds personal, huh? Marketing changed because markets changed. As markets grew and were remotely connected to consumers, marketers had to modify how they sold their product.

Using catalogs and newspaper advertisements… and graduating to television commercials, the market in marketing was lost.

Doc Searls called what we’re doing Axe in the Head Marketing in his aptly written chapter, Markets are Conversations in the Cluetrain Manifesto.

The problem with the new market was that it was only one-way, from the “organization to the individual”. We forgot what a market really was.

Markets are people, markets aren’t mediums. Marketing is your ability to communicate with people, not what medium you utilize to communicate with them. Marketers are people, too, and must utilize any medium or method they can to communicate with the market.

The photo above is pretty cool. No signage, no flyers, no teasers… not even a differentiating tent color to distinguish your product. Just people. People speaking to one another. People walking around with product in hand. People talking to the business. No wonder why farmers markets are growing in every city! Your customers want your product or service, they’re just tired of not being able to speak to anyone! Not very different from 100 years ago, is it?

From the 100-Year-Old Photo Blog

The truth is that you’ve forgotten what marketing is. Marketing is not the 4 freakin P’s anymore. Marketing is participating in the Market. Marketing is not putting up a website, sending out a few press releases, throwing up a whitepaper and sending a newsletter. Marketing is meeting with your customers, or perspective customers, and communicating with them honestly and sincerely.

If you’re not communicating (that’s not just talking, that’s listening and responding), you’re not marketing. If you’re not embracing social media like blogs, social networks, mobile (communication), video (communication) and email (communication) as your primary mediums, you’re not marketing.

My blog is about leveraging technology to improve your ability to communicate with your market. That’s why I have such a wide array of topics and links – there’s a wave of new technology to assist you. Sit back and think about the word Marketing and how it was derived, not what it’s become.

Modern photo from San Rafael website. 1908 Market photo from the 100-Year-Old Photo Blog.

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is the founder of the Martech Zone and a recognized expert on digital transformation. Douglas has helped start several successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to launch his own platforms and services. He's a co-founder of Highbridge, a digital transformation consulting firm. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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  1. I’m so happy you wrote this Douglas! I work in marketing but have been finding myself more and more at odds with the way it’s being approached and the way I think it should be.
    The reason I love social media is because it connects and re-connects us to our social needs.
    Marketing (the 4 p’s view) no longer works as it has in the past. People just aren’t willing to be told and passive anymore, we were never meant to live this way – we are social animals!
    Some might argue that digital formats are not personal and don’t invite ‘real-world’ participation but I believe the opposite is true.
    The more you learn, collaborate, participate in the digital world, the stronger your desire to do so with ‘real people.
    Thanks for this.

    1. Thanks Lynn! I really appreciate the feedback and thank you for the compliments. It’s time that people started to really believe in their products and services – then it’s easier to sell and you need not exaggerate.

  2. Couldn’t agree with you more Doug.

    Somewhere along the way, marketing went from ‘Big M’ to ‘Little M’ in peoples minds. It equates really only to the promotional aspect with an emphasis on spin. We even still see this today in the political landscape where the job is to keep candidates ‘on message’. All of which has seemed to have led to a generation of marketers that think inside-out and focus only on the level of their creativity to break through the clutter in communications. This has led to some huge frustrations with the business leaders we interviewed for our book on this front … they view marketing as just a runaway cost center that doesn’t contribute to the business very much and needs to be controlled.

    You’re hitting the problem straight on here. This definition of marketing was never what I learned the discipline ought to be. At it’s essence, the job is more fundamental and important than most are making it … it’s a job of ‘building real and deep connections to what buyers value most’. It starts with understanding their needs and preferences completely so that your company is actually working on building products people want to buy and then focuses on authentic ways of communicating why customers might be interested. Shouting ‘buy my product’ is useless (noone is listening anymore anyway) … using social media and other forms of publishing content to establish connections is far more effective.

    I’m fascinated by the number of communities that are developing freely around these kinds of things … at times and places that we would have never thought of before in a marketing context. Thanks for your thoughts and your work here.

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