by Jeff Bartlett

What is marketing?

Let’s start by modifying slightly the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s definition of marketing (my addition in bold).


The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer and consumer requirements profitably.

Marketing can also be more than a process. In the most successful organisations it is an orientation, a way of thinking, in which customers and consumers are put at the very centre of the organisation, and whose needs drive the organisation’s behaviour. By focusing on customers and consumers in this way you increase your chances of competitive success.

The marketing process is all about manipulating the elements of the marketing mix – the combination of marketing inputs that affects customer perception, motivation and behaviour.

These inputs can be usefully summarised as ‘the 7 Ps’: product, price, promotion, place, people, process and physical evidence:

  1. Product – the product that has been designed to satisfy customer and consumer needs
  2. Price – the price (or prices) at which you sell your product
  3. Promotion – the mix of activities in your promotional campaign, which can include advertising, direct marketing, packaging, personal selling, public relations and sales promotion (including point-of-sale activity)
  4. Place – the channels of distribution you use to get your product to market, such as wholesale, retail, direct to the public, via the internet or by phone
  5. People – all the people directly or indirectly involved in the delivery and consumption of your product, such as counter staff, customer service staff and drivers. Their interactions can influence the perceived value of your product and organisation.
  6. Process – your customer management processes, such as order taking, delivery, call centre, front office, repair and service activity
  7. Physical evidence – the environment in which the product is delivered and can be experienced (for example, a retail store) and the testimony of past satisfied customers.

All seven need to be fine-tuned and dynamically modified to accommodate changing needs and market conditions.