What is Marketing?

Seth Godin, the marketing genius behind bestsellers like Purple CowTribes and Linchpin, was asked to define marketing on Copyblogger Radio’s Internet Marketing for Smart People (podcast available on iTunes).

His response was, “the easy answer is that marketing is not advertising.”

Godin then went on to define marketing as: “the art of telling a story that resonates with your audience and spreads.” And, he added, “that story better be true, which means that, implicit in marketing is making something for which or about which you could tell a story that resonates.”

I really like that definition. It goes completely hand in hand with what Jay Baer has described on his blog, Convince & Convert, as YOUtility marketing. It is the act or process of becoming more than just a purveyor, but rather a valuable resource. “Sell something,” Baer explains, “and you make a customer. Help someone, and you make a customer for life.”

This is especially insightful in a world where the balance of marketing power has swung dramatically in favor of the customer. People, as consumers, are not only more connected and savvy then they ever were before, but have reduced attention spans as they are pitched, cajoled and bombarded by millions of messages across billions of mediums simultaneously.

Therefore, Godin emphasizes, marketing should be brought in even before you have your product, service or idea. The hard part of building a business in this modern age isn’t the implementation (you can literally source anything from China in no time at all), it’s creating the the story that people will choose to listen to. And, as such, the purest form of marketing starts from scratch, where you spend your time designing products or services that don’t need advertising.

The art of telling a story that resonates with your audience and spreads — Nothing could more sufficiently describe the process around marketing and the methods for connecting and communicating with existing or potential customers.

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