What marketing really is

It seems that something’s really happened with the reputation of marketing in the last couple of years.

The rise of Silicon Valley and with it tech companies, the lean startup movement and others have had a significant impact on a lot of things – including how most companies approach marketing.

Some people say this movement is also responsible for giving a bad name to what people consider marketing.

It seems like some people don’t even want to take this profession because of a lack of social status.

I tell you: Don’t listen to them. You can be a marketer with pride.

What most people THINK marketing is, is wrong.

You, fellow marketer, have the power to change the course of your company, but you need to first make sure your company understands what your job entails.

What do you believe Marketing means?

Marketing is a lot more than just putting ads on Facebook.

“Marketing is […] the business process of identifying, anticipating and satisfying customersneeds and wants.” (Wikipedia)

Maybe read it again.

This doesn’t say “a way to try to sell some shitty product that people don’t want by showing it to them over and over again”.


In fact, it says the total opposite.

  1. Marketing is about identifying and anticipating customers needs and wants
  2. Marketing is about satisfying customers’ needs and wants

Wow, that’s big, right?

Let’s look at an even more popular concept, the Marketing Mix consisting of the 4Ps (McCarthy in 1964):

  1. Product: “The product aspects of marketing deal with the specifications of the actual goods or services, and how it relates to the end-user’s needs and wants. The product element consists of product design, new product innovation, branding, packaging, labelling.”
  2. Price: “This refers to the process of setting a price for a product.”
  3. Place: “This refers to how the product gets to the customer (aka distribution).”
  4. Promotion: “This fourth P is focused on providing a message to get a response from consumers.”


Did you read it?

Yes, PRODUCT is the first P in the Marketing Mix. PRODUCT IS A PART OF MARKETING. 👀

Next time you speak to your product manager, say: hey, did you know that you are a marketer?

I can already see the look of DISGUST on their face.

So, how did that happen?

I can only imagine.

Marketing is a big job which involves a lot of areas. Naturally, responsibilities are getting divided.

Usually, someone looks after product. Someone else will work on the physical distribution of your product. Someone else probably takes on pricing, and so on.

And then someone else looks after what’s left of marketing.

But here’s the problem: How are they meant to do their job when their responsibilities have been dismantled?

Someone else decides: the needs and wants the product solves, how the product is distributed and how much it’s sold for.

All that’s left for the marketer is to create a message that generates awareness and persuades the customer. It’s really only marketing communication.

That’s why most marketers are f#cked.

But that’s what people refer to when they mean marketing. Isn’t it? Yes, it is even what most MARKETERS do. It’s like they accepted self crippling.

So are you really surprised that clever people figured out that “marketing” crippled to one P does not work?

Peter Thiel and the PayPal Mafia were right: In order to succeed, the 4 Ps need to be aligned, because they are intertwined.

So they said: “Let’s identify an unmet need in the market, and create a great product to solve their pain points. Then let’s “hack” eBay and be exactly where our customers are. And also, fuck it, we don’t need “marketing”.”

Everything is great – except the illusion that they didn’t need marketing. What they did is exactly what a great marketer would do.

Maybe they didn’t spend money on advertising. Maybe they didn’t hire a PR agency. But I hope we know now that this isn’t the same as marketing, merely a small part of marketing communication.

So what’s my whole point of all this?

To define what good marketing is, we don’t need to give it a new name.

I do it myself, and call myself a “Growth Consultant”. That’s because of the misconceptions that people have about marketing.

But really, all I do is marketing.

But the way it’s supposed to be done. I call it: No-bs marketing.

ps. Thanks to Louis Grenier‘s conversation with John James on his podcast “Everyone HATES Marketers”, which led me to write this.

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Hi, I am Johannes! 🚀Digital Nomad, Former Head of Growth @Truly (trulyexperiences.com), Former PayPal Global SEO lead & Paid Media marketer, 500 Startups mentor & growth consultant. In my spare time, I love 🚴‍♂️, ✈️🌏🗺,🎾. Get in touch: via Email or Tweet @joradig.

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