What is marketing?

Do you think of advertising, promotion, buying, selling, or distributing goods? The word is derived from "market" meaning the process of buying and selling. Marketing today encompasses product definition, product packaging, advertising, sales, as well as, distribution. The practice of identifying an opportunity or engaging in a business transaction would be considered marketing. Selling ice-cubes to Eskimos would be considered marketing. Presuming Eskimos have never heard this lame saying would be considered having a poor marketing sense. However, asking thoughtful questions of a group of Eskimos about their ice-cube buying habits and gathering data to determine the viability of developing a sustainable customer base would be considered a good marketing practice.

How do you develop a market?

You speak with individuals who are likely buyers, whether existing customers or potential new buyers. You speak with others who are already selling goods to likely buyers. You learn the industry by listening to those who are engaged in markets similar to the one you are developing. You find a problem and solve it.

An Example:

To write content online, you need to identify topics to write about along with find an audience interested in reading about those topics. I have found that identifying a problem, an online question asked in a user forum, and trying to answer that question will serve not only the person asking, but will also help many others who were too timid to step forward and ask that question. If you were to consider content to be a product there is a thirst for knowledge in the world and the internet is a terrific medium for knowledge sharing. "Writer's block" occurs when a writer focuses too heavily on a single "product set" and fails to listen to their customer base for new product ideas.

What is a failed market?

A failed market occurs when the seller stops listening to the buyers and ignorance presides. Ignorance rises in the form of marketing executives who don't talk directly with customers or consider their field sales team to be beneath them versus a source of invaluable insight. It rises when product managers fail to obtain data to support a product launch. It rises when advertising agencies spend an entire client's budget on "branding" without establishing a method for tracking results. The solution to marketing ignorance is the adoption of the philosophy – you manage what you measure.

Marketing, I have determined, is the skill of listening and taking informed economic action.