It seems like everyone I talk to uses the word “marketing” to mean something different. Often, it’s used interchangeably with the word “selling”. This isn’t surprising, because in the evolution of a company, marketing often begins in the sales department as a tactical support function responsible for generating leads and sales materials. Here we’ll explore the core definition of marketing.

As companies grow, however, the marketing function tends to split off from sales. At that point, the marketing group typically takes on a larger, more strategic and analytic role.

Phil Kotler, the grand poobah of marketing, says in his textbook Marketing Management that “the job of marketers is to ‘think customer’ and to guide companies in developing offerings that are meaningful and attractive to customers.” I would build on this by adding that this also means that marketing is responsible for identifying the most effective messages and vehicles for communicating about these offerings to customers.

In any company, regardless of size, the marketing person or team should be the key champion and voice of the customer. In fact, in a recent survey I conducted among marketing executives, “being the company expert on the customer” was the second most important responsibility of marketing, behind only “Meeting mutually agreed upon goals”. But more about that survey in a future post!