Define ‘marketing’ for your Vail Valley business |

Define ‘marketing’ for your Vail Valley business

Kelly Coffey
Vail, CO, Colorado

Every five years the American Marketing Association rewrites its definition of marketing. The association spent more than a year soliciting input from professionals and academics, hosting forums to debate, revise, and hone that definition. They settled on this term’s finalized version in January.

From a group of people known more for pithy slogans like “Got Milk?,” we got a definition that reads like it was created by a committee of lawyers who get paid by the word:

“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

If your goal is to improve your company’s marketing, does that definition give you a better idea of what to do when you walk into your office today? Probably not. But having a better understanding of everything that marketing is will make your marketing, and your business, healthier.

Personally, I prefer a simpler definition created by Jay Conrad Levinson, author of “Guerrilla Marketing.” He said marketing is any contact between anybody in your business with anybody in the outside world.

That means marketing is how your receptionist picks up the phone. Is he or she cheery and eager to help, or turning off interested customers? Marketing is how inviting the front door of your business looks. Marketing is your location. Marketing is what products you decide to sell. Marketing is how much you sell those products for.

If marketing is every interaction with the outside world, then the true foundation of marketing is knowing your customer. Marketing is all the ways you figure out who your customers are, their attitudes, there emotions, their knowledge, and their needs. From that foundation we can then build our tactics of guerrilla promotions, e-mail campaigns, and newspaper advertisements.

Marketing is difficult to define simply because you can’t isolate it from the rest of your business practices. Although a corporation will create a separate marketing department, that department can’t be far removed from research and development, customer service, sales, or even the mail room. If marketing stays in its own silo, the company will suffer.

How can you apply a better understanding of marketing to your business? When you look to study your advertising, also look around you business to see what other points you can improve. Maybe giving your window display a spruce-up will reap more rewards than increasing your radio ad budget.

We often think of advertising when we think of marketing. But advertising is only the visible tip. The rest of this is the underwater part of the marketing iceberg.

Kelly Coffey is the founder of Harebrained Marketing, a firm that specializes in connecting local businesses with local customers. Reach him at or 970-926-0888.

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