What does marketing mean

You hear a lot about marketing but what exactly does it entail (and how do you become good at it)?
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Marketing is kind of like being in sales, but with a bit more creativity and a little less golf. Many people go to school for half a decade to become marketers, while some can figure out what it takes to be a good marketer simply through learning the tools of the trade on their own.

The overall goal of marketing is simple: to get a targeted audience to understand a specific message and to ideally invest in that message.

But the essence of what “Marketing” means is quite often buried in buzz words and powerpoints that can distract from marketing’s primary function.

Marketing has been my full-time trade in various capacities for over a decade. I’ve pushed the buttons and explored most of the tools, in addition to having sat in on plenty of meetings where it seemed like people were speaking a different language. 

I’m going to explain to you what you need to know about marketing as succinctly as possible, like a good marketer should be able to do.

Here’s what Marketing is…in 5 minutes.

Understanding what marketing is

Marketing is the ability to:

  1. Recognize and target an audience based on a set of criteria
  2. Generate messaging that entices people within said audiences to act

You can be a fantastic content creator, but if you don’t know how to get the correct people to see your content, you’re not going to be a good marketer.

Conversely, you can be great at recognizing people’s habits and segmenting them into groups, but if you don’t possess the skills or know-how to communicate to (or with) them, you’re not going to be a good marketer.

Is Marketing a good career?

There are so many different types of careers within marketing that this question is difficult to answer. A video producer who does nothing but shoots a $50,000 camera is as much a marketer as someone with an MBA that cost $50,000 a year in tuition.

On that note, I believe there are still two types of marketers:

  1. Marketers who do the talking: “The Talkers”
    The researchers and analysts who package marketing plans in a concise manner. They speak executive, can take broad ideas and specify them into a personal plan, and know when and how to deviate.
  2. Marketers who use the tools: “The doers”
    The digital marketers, social media managers, marketing automators with their fingers on the switch—they take the marketing plan and bring it to life.

The most popular marketing jobs

Even if you have your sights specifically on one of the above “types,” it will eventually behoove you to know the ins-and-outs of the most prominent marketing roles.

Digital Marketers

These are the ones who oversee and/or run all of the google and social media ads. It will likely require 3-4 years of experience in some form of email automation and best practices.

VP Marketing

The leader in charge of the marketing machine, this person knows how to talk to all of the company leadership, while representing the company at external functions (events and speaking engagements). They have an understanding of many of the major tools used to improve marketing workflows but are mainly good at realizing where strengths and weaknesses exist and making sure they put people in the best opportunity to accomplish company goals.

The overall goal of marketing is simple: to get a targeted audience to understand a specific message and to ideally invest in that message.

Social Media Manager

Often labeled as an entry level position even if it is one of the most visible positions for any company. The handle all of the company’s social postings, in addition to responding to inbound messages who may turn into leads. Having an idea of basic metrics, most of which the social media sites provide, is helpful. This role requires someone who should be fascinated by the internet and feels rewarded when people engage with you. Companies usually don’t pay much for these positions, but if you show an understanding in data metrics and user behavior can move up the ladder quickly.

Content Creator

The person who creates the content that the above people use to connect with audiences. This is everything from a video editor to a graphic designer.

Marketing Associate

This person is expected to do a little bit of everything mentioned above. This puts you in a good position to grow into a VP down the line, and likely gives a small company with a smaller budget to hire someone to do anything they ask of them.

What are the 4 P’s of the marketing mix

Whether you’ve been directly or indirectly introduced to the 4 P’s of marketing, you’re likely to come across these in one way or another. The good news is they’re pretty self-explanatory:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Placement
  • Promotion

What’s the difference between sales and marketing?

Based on my experience, sales is much more personal than marketing. While the goal of both sales and marketing is largely the same—to sell—sales is predominantly a face to face or voice to voice business, while marketing is more about making introductions and doing professional hand-offs. 

Marketers tend to be more creative, as creatives have a tendency to shy away from constant human interaction in my opinion. Salesman and saleswoman tend to be a bit all over the place, knowing that if the ends justify the means than its moot—they usually don’t have the attention span or desire to see many creative projects through to the end.

About lead attribution

If there’s anything more important than generating qualified marketing leads, it’s knowing where your leads are coming from.

That’s not an understatement.

Attribution might be the most important term in marketing: it means being able to correctly attribute, or label, where a lead came from and what caused them to convert.

Creating quality leads is great, but if you don’t know how they converted or where they came from, you’re not only missing the point of your job, you’re missing an opportunity to build on that success.

The most popular digital marketing tools and outlets

Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and a customer resource management system (e.g. Salesforce) are the conventional tools most marketers should feel comfortable using. But digital marketing can require a near-limitless appetite for learning new programs.

Email automation

These are programs that allow you to send automatic emails based on user behavior (or a lack of behavior. Examples of the most popular email automation programs are:

  • Mailchimp
  • Pardot
  • Constant Contact
  • Hubspot

Lead qualification

There’s no perfect tool to determine when a lead is qualified, as this will vary based on your product and industry. But here are a few:

  • Pardot
  • WealthEngine
  • Marketo
  • Google Analytics

Social Media

There are countless tools meant to make running your social either more efficient or to improve growth. In my opinion they’re a bit overkill as most social media platforms have their own native tools that are just as good, but here are a few nevertheless for those with budget to burn:

  • Sprout Social
  • Hootsuite
  • Social Studio
  • Loomly
  • Later

Final Minute

Marketing can be a fantastic career, primarily for the number of different roles you can place yourself in, to say nothing of the lucrative return you can eventually receive.

If you’re a creative who doesn’t mind a bit of structure or a natural self promoter who loves exploring how different people think, marketing would be a great field for you to explore.

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