During my college days, one of the toughest questions a teacher asked me was, “how do you define marketing?”.
I tried to pitch a quick answer on how marketing was related to sales and support, but I just couldn’t get my mind to wrap up a one-liner on the go. There are so many verticals to it, so much to say about marketing that it felt nearly impossible to sum it up.
The question stuck with me throughout the years.
I often asked it to other experienced marketers and entrepreneurs and many seemed to be surprised, even flabbergasted by the apparently simple, yet intricate question.
“What is Marketing after all?”
Back to the Future
Often considered the father of Marketing, in 1980, the infamous professor Philip Kotler described Marketing as “the human activity directed at satisfying needs and wants through the exchange process”.
Much like the ageless appeal of the legendary “Back to the Future” movie released in the same decade, Kotler’s seminal work has left a timeless impact on the field of marketing, making his definition a fundamental pillar that continues to transcend generations and eras in this dynamic discipline.
Marketing has been a cornerstone of business success for ages.
It’s the art of telling stories, the science of understanding customer needs, and the craft of creatively connecting products and services to those needs. Over the years, marketing has evolved and adapted to the changes in technology and the feverish consumer behavior — but amidst all these advancements — one thing remains clear:
Marketing, in essence, is a constant, unwavering force, much like a guiding star in the vast expanse of the bussiness cosmos.
Marketing Core Vitals
Just like the human body, marketing needs a set of core vitals to function well. When one of the vitals fails, so does the marketing body: wasting away, gradually deteriorating, until the issue is acknowledged and rectified. However, unlike our bodies, which have inherent mechanisms for these vital functions, there is no one-size-fits-all approach in marketing.
Marketing requires the process of identifying, testing, adjusting, and optimizing to ensure sustainable long-term performance and keeping the system healthy. That’s what we call the growth process. Marketing fundamentally relies on four core vitals, the ones responsible to keep it alive and in good shape — but none of it matters if you don’t have a solid foundation.
Having a Great Product
In the strategic realm of marketing, a great product is the most powerful weapon. Just as Sun Tzu emphasized the importance of possessing superior arms in battle in “The Art of War”, a valuable product is the key asset in the marketing arsenal.
Like a well-forged sword, a great product captivates the audience with its craftsmanship, instilling a sense of confidence and trust. It becomes the focal point of the marketing campaign, positioning the brand as a formidable force in the competitive landscape.
In the Web3 space, this concept takes on a new dimension. Brands and projects have revolutionized the idea of what a product is by creating digital landscapes where users can own, develop, and monetize their virtual experiences. These immersive environments, powered by blockchain, turn users into stakeholders and participants rather than mere consumers, reshaping the way marketing interacts with its audience.
“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” — Sun Tzu. Similarly, a great product sets the foundation for marketing success, ensuring that the battle is won before the campaign even commences.
Delivering the Right Message
In the art of marketing communication, Dale Carnegie’s timeless wisdom from “How to Win Friends and Influence People” serves as a guiding beacon. Carnegie, like Sun Tzu, understood the power of effective persuasion in achieving success.
Just as Carnegie’s principles are focused on building strong connections with others, delivering the right message in marketing hinges on forging meaningful connections with the audience. As Carnegie wisely noted, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
Once again, we are witnessing the impact web3 has in this marketing core vital. Through NFTs for example, brands and artists grant ownership of digital art, music, and even certifications or proof of attendance. This not only establishes a direct connection between the brand and the audience, but also opens doors for innovative marketing strategies, such as exclusive access or perks to NFT holders.
In marketing, being customer-centric and genuinely understanding customers needs will yield a far more impactful and persuasive message, setting the stage for lasting brand influence.
To the Right Person
When was the last time you saw a Rolls-Royce ad? If you can’t remember, no worries — it’s probably just not on your radar yet :)
Rolls-Royce, as a luxury automobile brand, doesn’t engage in massive, widespread advertising campaigns like many other mainstream car companies. Instead, they adopt a highly targeted approach, recognizing that their target audience is exceptionally niche and consists of ultra-wealthy individuals.
Rolls-Royce understands that their vehicles are exclusive and cater to a select clientele who are seeking the pinnacle of luxury and prestige. Their marketing strategy revolves around reaching this specific audience through carefully curated channels and events that align with the lifestyle and interests of their potential customers.
Having an excellent product is essential, delivering the right message is also crucial, but much like Rolls-Royce, one must target the right audience. Understanding the market, their preferences, pain points, and aspirations is paramount in crafting relevant and impactful marketing campaigns.
At the Right Moment
A well-crafted message might fall on deaf ears if it’s presented at an inconvenient time or when the audience isn’t receptive.
Just like a master chef adding the perfect seasoning to a dish, marketers must ensure that their message is delivered when the audience is most receptive and primed for engagement. Understanding the target audience’s behavior patterns, buying cycles, and even cultural nuances can play a significant role in determining the optimal moment to make an impact.
For instance, a retail company might strategically launch a back-to-school promotion right before the start of the school year when parents are actively seeking supplies for their children. Similarly, online streaming services often release new series during the weekend when viewers are more likely to binge-watch and share their experiences on social media.
In the Right Place
Finally, it’s equally vital to deliver that message in the places where the audience naturally gravitates.
Understanding the preferred channels and platforms of the target audience is key to successful marketing. Different demographics have varying media consumption habits, and being present where they are most active ensures higher visibility and engagement. In Web3, marketing extends into digital worlds, metaverses, and token-based ecosystems.
By tending to these core vitals — having a great product, delivering the right message to the right person at the right moment in the right place — marketing can thrive, just as a healthy body flourishes when all vital functions work in harmony.
In the end, this is Marketing.
A dynamic dance between strategy and creativity, science and intuition, data and emotions.
Just like a skilled conductor leading an orchestra, marketers orchestrate the symphony of branding, storytelling, and engagement. We adapt to the changing rhythms of technology, consumer behaviors, and market trends.
So, when someone asks me again “how do you define marketing?”; I’ll tell them that it’s not about products or campaigns. It’s about people and their stories. It’s about creating and providing value, forging connections, and leaving an indelible mark on the world.
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