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A subscriber writes: “Give me a definition of marketing. I read a lot about that but I need your definition.”

I appreciate this question, because you can go look this up online anywhere, but it’s not the same. So I’m not going to give you a dictionary definition, but instead MY definition.

If more small businesses understood it, there might be less aversion and more willingness to market. They’d get more clients and be more successful. But, let’s just start with the question…

What is marketing?

Marketing is the process or practice of getting the word out about what you do to those you help.

“The word” is your marketing message. “What you do” is your unique solution, and “those you help” are your intended audience. You have to know each of those before you can market your business effectively. (These parts make up your brand.)

I group marketing into three main categories:

1. Value Identification

2. Value Communication

3. Value Delivery

Obviously, the key component here is value. Business (and, I would say, life) is all about exchanging value. I give you something valuable – like a product or a service – and you give me something in exchange, like money or its equivalent in products or services.

Value Identification is the part of marketing in which you decide what the value is in what you’re offering. What do you do that your clients appreciate and expect to pay for? What do you do that is special, different and better than anyone else? How do your clients benefit from you?

As I mentioned, the unique value you offer your clients is your brand. Branding is not only about logos and taglines; it’s about deciding which part of your value to focus on, who best benefits from it and how exactly to talk about it. It’s taking that abstract value and articulating it as your marketing message.

Value Communication is all the ways you let your target audience know who you are and how you can help them. Marketing strategies like social media, blogging, advertising and word-of-mouth are all ways to communicate your value to your target audience.

The interesting, and sometimes dangerous, part of marketing is that everything communicates. Everything you do or don’t do, say or don’t say, choose to participate in or decide to skip … it ALL sends a message for which you are responsible.

Value Delivery is when you do what you do for your clients or customers. Some people believe marketing is over at this point because you already have the person as a customer, right? Not so fast.

In my opinion it’s a good idea to think of everything you do as marketing and as a chance to express your value. If you want to grow your business with referrals, you’re still reminding people of that, even though they’ve already become your clients. So, marketing is ongoing. (sigh. i know.)

Another way to think about marketing is …

  • Value identification = defining your brand promise
  • Value communication = making the promise
  • Value delivery = fulfilling the promise

In business we do these three processes over and over, defining our promise (ever more clearly), sharing it and fulfilling it.

And that, Enlightened Marketers, is MY definition of marketing. When someone asks you, “What is marketing,” what do YOU say?