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What Is Marketing? The Fundamentals Every Marketer Needs To Know

Published February 22, 2022
/ Updated July 12, 2022

The case can be made that a business will only ever be as successful as its marketing strategy. A business may provide the best service in town, but if nobody knows about it, the company will never be able to turn a profit and sustain itself.

Marketing raises awareness to consumers of a business’ goods and services, and this involves much more than aimlessly displaying advertisements. Marketing has taken on new meaning as it continues to be innovated to keep up with our fast-paced society.

Figuring out the right marketing approach is often the sole difference between a successful and failing business.

What Is Marketing?

To put it simply, marketing is a series of strategies and different actions that can produce profits for a business or company. With the help of marketing, businesses draw prospective customers’ attention to the product or services. Marketing also motivates prospective customers to take action and purchase these services and products.

Marketing encompasses a multitude of activities that create, communicate, deliver, and exchange different offers for the clients in the hopes of increasing sales and other profitable actions on behalf of customers.

Marketing Definition

Marketing exists to drive profitable customer action through product and market research, pricing analysis, distribution, and promotion. Marketing often primarily focuses on creating relevant and beneficial content to promote a business’ products to its ideal target audience.

Marketing not only creates awareness of the brand but also influences consumers to take action and make a purchase.

To easily analyze the fundamentals of marketing, we can break it down into the 4 Ps of Marketing.

4 Ps Of Marketing

  1. Product: Either a physical commodity or beneficial service that a company sells. Marketers determine how a product will satisfy the customer’s needs, the variations of the product needed to satisfy those needs, and how it will be branded.
  2. Price: Successful products aren’t simply assigned a price that sounds right. The marketer determines what price will earn the company the highest profit margin while also maintaining the most value for the consumer. They analyze price points that may have been established by competition and modulate when discounts will be beneficial.
  3. Place: Where does the product need to be distributed to get in front of the ideal buyer? Marketers need to discover the right distribution channels and know how to access them.
  4. Promotion: Creating the message the company wants delivered for the product and deciding where and when that message should be advertised to capture the most eyes in the target market.

At a high level, marketing includes:

  1. Targeting: Researching the target market, ideal buyer, their buying processes and behaviors, competition, and promotional methods to stand out and reach their niche audiences.
  2. Branding: Differentiating the business and its products or services from competitors with unique marketing design and voice to connect deeply with the ideal buyer.
  3. Conversion: Optimizing the entire sales and marketing funnel from unknown target audience members to actual buyers.
  4. Retention: Retaining existing customers to provide long-term value to your buyers and the business.

Understanding The Real Meaning Of Marketing

To further understand this complex promotional process, let’s take a few steps back and break down how marketing is defined.

Marketing (noun): The sum of all activities including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling that initiates the transfer of goods and services from the producer to the consumer.

To market (verb): To execute activities that encourage a consumer to purchase a product.

Mercari (Latin origin): “To deal in; to buy; to trade.”

Let’s break this down even further.

Marketing seeks to 1) drive profitable customer action by 2) reaching a defined target audience with 3) information they find important and valuable. Engaging these audiences with stimulating content allows them to 4) discover brands, products, and solutions. Promoting this “aha” moment allows the customer to recognize how their lives can be improved by investing in the brand’s product.

  1. Drive profitable customer action: The goal of every marketing campaign is to drive customers to make a purchase or perform an action that the company desires. These acts by consumers obviously benefit the company, but it’s the marketing team’s job to convince the consumers that they are the ones that will benefit most from the transaction.
  2. Define the target audience: The marketing process starts with establishing the target audience. This process aims to single out which demographics will be most likely to purchase the product being advertised. Failure to successfully determine who the marketing message is best suited for will result in the business wasting both time and money on people who are not interested in their product.
  3. Provide valuable information: Once the target audience is defined, the next step is engaging these potential customers to interact and associate with the brand. Creating content that the consumer finds useful or that they can relate to will establish trust between them and the seller. People like to buy from those they know, like, and trust.
  4. Customers discovering your brand and product: After drawing the customer in, it’s imperative to help them understand why they need the product. Compelling marketing campaigns will accurately define their target audience’s problem and demonstrate how their product provides an effective solution and improves the consumer’s life.

What Are 4 Definitions Of Marketing From Experts?

Definition #1

Marketing is the performance of business activities that direct the flow of goods and services from producer to consumer or user in order to best satisfy consumers and accomplish the firm’s objectives.

– E. Jerome McCarthy – Creator of the 4 Ps of Marketing and author of Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach

Definition #2

Marketing is the messages and/or actions that cause messages and/or actions.

– Jay Baer – President, Convince & Convert. Author with Amber Naslund of The Now Revolution

The meaning of marketing is to pique the interest of potential customers and get them excited about a product. This excitement will initiate a purchase and may also result in the customer spreading the word about the product.

If a campaign can capture the attention of one customer in the target audience, chances are they will have friends or colleagues within the same demographic and will share their excitement with these other ideal customers. This can cause a ripple effect, and the business is essentially rewarded with free marketing for their product through word-of-mouth advertising.

Referrals are a powerful form of advertising as potential customers are able to count on real-life experiences from people they trust. When a company is able to build brand loyalty, they are able to grow exponentially by letting their existing customers provide powerful secondary marketing.

Definition #3

Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem. Marketing helps others become who they seek to become.

– Seth Godin – Founder, Akimbo. Author of This Is Marketing. [2]

Marketers are essentially salespeople, and this may bring about a slew of negative connotations. Harsh words such as slimy, greedy, or scam-artist are often used to describe those in sales. The general public often believes that people in this line of work are only interested in benefiting themselves.

However, Seth Godin argues that marketing requires empathy and a deep understanding of the audience’s problems.

Marketing that only serves to create hype around a product will come off as inauthentic, and many of today’s consumers are skeptical when introduced to new products, to begin with.

In order to get past these apprehensions and earn a customer’s trust, the marketing team must have a legitimate interest in their customers’ struggles. Consumers want to believe that a brand is genuinely vested in them and will be on their side to help them achieve their dreams.

Definition #4

Marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.

– Steve Jobs, Co-founder, Apple. Speech to Apple Employees, 1997. [3]

People in today’s society are bombarded with marketing in all different forms. Sometimes it’s obvious, like when passing dozens of billboards on a highway, but other times it’s more discrete and strategic. Whether it’s a Facebook ad for a new grill that pops up after leaving Home Depot, or companies offering a free product just for subscribing to their email list, innovations in technology have practically made our lives one continuous commercial.

A consumer’s brain can only retain so much information, and with advertisements flooding our minds from all directions, businesses need to be sure they convey a message that they want to be remembered by.

The opportunity to capture the attention of a potential customer is rare and will be short-lived, so it’s important to make an impression that lasts beyond the advertisement.

What Is B2B Marketing?

B2B Marketing

B2B is short for business to business. This form of marketing involves the promotion and selling of products or services that target businesses and organizations.

The valuables being delivered may either be items that are resold by the buying business, or services that can help the company run more efficiently.

The target audience in business-to-business marketing will often be the head decision-makers of the company. B2B marketing typically has a more difficult barrier to entry to reach the target audience than other forms of marketing.

For example, when cold calling a business to market services, the business owner will rarely be the person who picks up the phone. Leaving a message for the owner puts the fate of the marketing efforts in the hands of an employee who is not nearly as concerned about the campaign’s goals. Even if the appropriate message does get delivered, business owners are extremely busy and get swarmed by marketing calls and emails daily.

Therefore, it’s imperative marketers put together innovative marketing strategies that grab the attention of decision-makers and separate their product or service from the rest of the pack.

What Makes A Good B2B Marketing Plan?

One of the primary focuses of B2B marketing involves another acronym known as ROI, which stands for return on investment. For a majority of businesses, their main objective is making money.

An effective B2B marketing strategy will be able to convince decision-makers in the business that investment into their goods or services will generate more income and improve the business’ bottom line.

Pain Points In Marketing Meaning

Aside from promising to improve finances, a successful B2B marketing plan will be able to uncover the pain points that a business owner or stakeholder has.

For example, let’s pretend a company that answers calls and schedules appointments for small businesses is marketing to a local fence contractor.

  1. Pain Point: They discover that the owner is emotional about not having enough time to spend with her family, and her dream is to generate enough revenue to be able to hire more workers and have more time away from her business.
  2. Problem-Causing Pain Point: The marketer explains that the business owner misses out on several potential customers per day because she is too busy installing fences to answer the phone, and this is resulting in the owner leaving thousands of potential dollars on the table.
  3. Solution To The Problem: By having a service that can answer the phone and capture these leads, the owner could land ten more jobs per month, leading to a monthly increase of $30,000 in revenue. This would allow for the contractor to hire more workers and spend more time with her family.

This pitch identifies the pain point and paints the picture of a brighter future. The marketer not only promises to generate more revenue but explains how their service will be able to provide that, and gives specific numbers to trigger the imagination of the business owner.

It demonstrates how unanswered phone calls directly correlate to the owner’s pain point of being unable to spend more time with their family and then further exhibits how their service is the solution to resolving this issue.

Focus On Profits

One can certainly make the argument that B2B marketing is the hardest form of marketing as business owners are typically aware of the usual sales tactics that marketers attempt.

After all, business owners have to apply those same strategies to make sales to their own customers.

This is why it’s best to avoid the fluff and get straight to the bottom line of how the products offered will provide value.

Decision-makers of a business care less about the complex features of a product and more about whether or not it will make them money.

What Is B2C Marketing?

B2C Marketing

B2C marketing refers to business-to-consumer advertising. In this case, the business is promoting its product or services for use in the everyday lives of the general population.

Clearly, the target market can vary significantly in B2C marketing, which is why market research to determine the ideal demographic is essential.

In contrast to B2B marketing, B2C purchases are often more impulsive. Typical consumers aren’t analyzing how a product will affect their bottom line, nor are they having in-depth discussions with others over how the product will impact their life.

The Best B2C Marketing Strategy

All marketing strategies should revolve around solving a problem, and B2C marketing typically promises to provide immediate solutions.

Business owners need to be shown how a product can bring their company value, but they typically understand that their purchase is an investment and have their sights set on long-term outcomes and benefits. With B2C selling, buyers are typically searching for products that solve a problem as quickly as possible.

The Power Of Emotional Marketing

With less research and more spontaneous purchases, marketers have a much smaller opportunity to prove the effectiveness of their products. This is why B2C marketing aims to trigger an emotion that will elicit an immediate response from consumers.

Let’s look at some possible real-life examples of how this is accomplished.

  1. Happiness: A skincare line is selling face wash that promises to get rid of severe acne. The ad shows the transformations from blemished to clear skin, and users of the product describe how they no longer feel embarrassed of their acne, have more confidence, and are able to live more fulfilling lives.
  2. Sadness: A pet adoption center explains their facility is being overrun with abandoned dogs. Sad music plays in the background as clips of famished and anxious dogs are displayed. The spokesperson states that if the dogs aren’t adopted soon, they may have to be put down.
  3. Fear: A pharmaceutical company features a man who had a blood clot that resulted in a heart attack. The man knew he was at risk but declined going to see his doctor and did not realize the severity of his problem until it was almost too late. Had he been taking the blood thinner advertised and recommended by his doctor, the heart attack would have likely never happened.

While business owners look at ROI from a financial perspective, the average consumer bases their ROI on the positive emotions that the purchase will give them, or perhaps the negative emotions if they don’t make the purchase.

Advertisements that can trigger these emotional responses have a greater chance at influencing their target audience and converting the sale.

What Is The Best Definition Of Marketing?

Marketing provides value to your tribe so that they provide value to your business.

While there may be several different forms, all strategies have the same common goals in mind.

Identify the ideal customer, demonstrate how to solve their problems, and develop customer loyalty to keep them coming back for years and years to come.


    1. Baer, J., & Naslund, A. (2011). The now revolution: 7 moves to transform your business to a faster, smarter, and more social. Wiley.
    2. Godin, S. (2019). This is marketing: You can’t be seen until you learn to see. Essay, Penguin Business.
    3. Jobs, S. (n.d.). Launch of Apple “Think Differently” Campaign – 1997. Speech.