In this article…
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself" - Peter Drucker
What is Marketing?
Many people have sought to simply explain what marketing is. So, Marketing is the activity of passing a message to a selected audience on a specific subject to inspire action.
There are a number of questions raised by that statement, such as:
- What is the message that needs communicating?
- How do you effectively get that message across?
- Who is the audience and where do you find them?
- What is the subject you are talking about?
- To what action do you want the audience to jump to?
This list could go on, and for that reason, this business function is tricky to roll up into a single sentence. There are probably more techniques than any other function is business. It is a fluid set of Activities that vary in every organisation. Some of that variance is down to the people doing Marketing, other differences are driven by business style.
How does Marketing fit with Sales?
There is also a very thin line between Marketing and Sales. However, the two functions do have some very specific activities and skills that are worth separating, even if you do have one person doing both!
Marketing is about making your organisation known, or better known, to other organisations or individuals. It uses your Brand to find Contacts who may be interested in your Products and Services. You may also use, advertising, social media, conferences, trade shows and even ‘cold calling’. However, once the contact is known and has expressed an interest, the Sales function and the related range of activities take over.
There is a range of activities usually undertaken to manage this very visible function, including :
- Brand design, promotion and awareness
- Inbound Management
- Content Management
- Social Media Management
- Traditional and Digital Advertising
- Public Relations Management
- Promotional Event Management
Primary Acts and Regulations
There are a number of historical ‘Marketing’ Acts, primarily aimed at the Agricultural Industry. However, in terms of the general aspects of the function, there is little direct legislation.
Marketing is the very start of trading and therefore it needs to consider The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, especially in relation to advertising and promotional material.
With regards to Brand and Intellectual Property, the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act needs thought to make sure you don’t use others property unlawfully, or they yours.
In terms of communication, The Communications Act addresses the misuse of telecommunications and, along with The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations (PECR), provides the rules surrounding the best use of email and other digital transmissions. Also, the Data Protection Act, or UK GDPR, implements a range of measures which has a significant effect on how this function can be done properly.
As with many management functions, there are a number of general standards which could be applied to Marketing, such as ISO 9001 Quality Management. There are, however, no formal standards but some association codes worth a look:
The Telephone Preference Scheme (TPS) and the Corporate TPS (CTPS) may be applicable if you undertake telesales, especially if those being called are unaware of your organisation previously. Ofcom provides some guidance on this aspect of the Communications Act 2003.
Finally, as Marketing tends to use personal data and a range of communication methods, the Information Commissioner’s office provides some guidance on PECR.
There are a number of relevant associations targeted at marketeers, but could provide some free guidance and pointers to non-members. You can find a list of these organisations un Service Providers below.
The skills required by those involved in Marketing can be broken down into 3 areas:
- Analytical – Able to look at the organisations marketplace and statistics and conclude the best marketing techniques to employ and those to avoid
- Social – Making use of appropriate social avenues and technologies to best advantage and spotting the possibilities in emerging solutions.
- Researching – Collecting and using data effectively and integrating that learning into the marketing plan
- Consistent – Producing consistent and contiguous contents which integrates with the organisation’s Mission, Vision and Values
- Brand-aware – Always seeking to put the Brand first and improve the reputation and perception of the organisation at all times.
- Business Conscious – Understanding the way the business works and how Marketing contributes to its performance and success
- Ethical and professional – Acting with honesty, integrity, self-confidence and conscience.
- Legally-minded – Striving to undertake all organisational activities within the bounds of the law and accepted standards.
- Relationship developing – Focused on building relationships with new contacts and understanding needs and opportunities.
The vast range of services and products which support marketing prevents us from putting any meaningful guidance here currently. However, a good start, if you are looking to get some third-party help with the marketing efforts would be to look for those who follow a code. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) seeks to cover data and marketing, which is a tricky balance to strike. Some other associations to look for are:
- Advertising Association
- Institute of Practitioners in Advertising
- Internet Advertising Bureau
- Institute of Promotional Marketing
- Chartered Institute of Marketing
- Institute of Direct Marketing
- Market Research Society
- Marketing Agencies Association
- Chartered Institute of Public Relations
- Public Relations Consultants Association
Marketing is a dark art. It calls on the organisation to explain itself better, to portray its wares in different and, sometimes, challenging ways. This function is key to your success as it manages access to your growth, future success and realising your Vision. Therefore, understanding how and what activities work for you and your organisation is one of the biggest challenges you will face.
Blue Sky Stinking
Free Business Podcast
Another way to learn more about the functions in your organisation is to listen to our business-focused podcast. Episode 10, Waterloo, looks at what can go wrong with marketing efforts and we have a discussion with a marketing and privacy expert, Amanda Williams, of how to do it properly.
Check out the other functions in the Guardian
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