what is marketing? definition of marketing

It’s the first class of their senior year. I’m standing before the class of thirty-five Marketing majors, each 20 or 21 years old, at Tulane University and I ask a very simple question…

Who can tell me the definition of marketing?

The room wakes up and mumbles…

It’s branding.

It’s providing value to customers.

It’s raising awareness.

It’s… it’s…

On their fourth year of college, these students couldn’t muster a convincing definition of marketing.

I don’t believe that’s the fault of the student, however; it’s not like they were told a simple definition and chose to forget it. Instead, I think it falls on the shoulders of the university (and universities at large).

In his classic book Scientific Advertising, copywriter Claude C. Hopkins defined advertising as “salesmanship multiplied.”

(Hopkins is also credited with getting people to brush their teeth, due to the success of his Pepsodent ads. What a guy!)

“Salesmanship multiplied.”

I love that simple definition. It encompasses everything in two simple words.

First, salesmanship. Marketing is about sales. It’s about selling. Selling a product, or an idea, or a value. Marketing is about getting people sold on a specific future.

When you’re dating online, you’re marketing yourself. When you’re flying a Facebook ad for your upcoming webinar, you’re selling people on trusting you with an hour of their time. When you have a huge billboard in Time Square showing off the latest Nike running shoe, you’re selling people on what they could look like if they had the shoes.

By its very definition, marketing should be about sales.

“Multiplied” in the “salesmanship multiplied” definition refers to the power that marketing provides. By using tools like newspapers, magazines, digital ads, radio, in-app banners, emails or whatever medium do jour, we’re able to multiply our efforts and reach more people than a single person could reach.

So marketing is selling people in a manner that multiplies the individual.

Marketing is not branding simply because branding is a tactic. It’s a tool. Marketing isn’t Facebook ads because those, too, are just another tactic. They’re tools for selling.

You don’t look at flour and call it a cake, do you? It’s a component to achieve the final product.

Now consider your business…

When you look at your marketing, are you focusing on tactics (lets use Facebook ads!) or are you looking for the best way to multiply salesmanship within your organization? Are you selling or are you taking flour and calling it a cake? Are you measurably converting prospects to customers, then keeping those customers around as long as possible? If your marketing department is tweeting and posting on social media about this-and-that, but none of it actually sells your product or service, you may be wasting money. There’s a long game in using social media, but if you want fast growth in your organization, you need salesmanship, not chatter.

If you’d like an extra set of eyes on your marketing, I’m offering 3 “Pay Only If You’re Blown Away” Marketing and Technology Audits. These are the 90-min deep dive audits that we charge $5,000 for, but I want to extend the audit to you and your company without risk. You can learn more about the audit by clicking here.

How are you using marketing as salesmanship within your company? Reply to the comments below and let me know!

To your success,


PS – Reply below with how you’re using marketing within your organization.

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