Defining the Marketing Function

Marketing is important and the laws that control it are eye-watering

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...

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.

Common Activities

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.

Available Standards

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:

Authoritative Guidance

The UK Government body, the Competition and Markets Authority is a good place to start.  The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) also has an array of free advice and resources.

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.

Valuable Skills

The skills required by those involved in Marketing can be broken down into 3 areas:

Individual Skills

  • 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

Team Skills

  • 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

Organisational Skills

  • 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.

Service Providers

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: 


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.

Marketing Standards Newsfeeds

RSS Competitions and Markets Authority (Gov.UK)

How Gydeline helps

We, at Gydeline, help organisations of all types and sizes to save money and time through better and simpler compliance.  We do this with software and services.

If you would like to discuss any aspects of dealing with this and other risks in your business we are always happy to offer some, no obligation assistance – just contact us.