What Is Marketing and What Can It Do for Your Business?

Last updated on: November 16, 2023

Marketing is the one thing every company does, but nobody can agree on.

A marketer could spend their time writing blog articles, designing marketing emails, recording podcasts, sharing content on social media, managing PPC channels, producing virtual events, gathering product feedback from customers…we could list a dozen more things and it would barely scratch the surface.

But what is marketing, in its essence? That’s what this guide is all about. Keep reading for some insights into the purpose of marketing, marketing tips, and one-sentence definitions of marketing from 25 of our favorite marketing leaders.

What is marketing?

Marketing is the process of crafting and distributing intentional messaging to attract potential customers to your company’s products or services. 

Marketing teams use strategies like customer segmentation and market data analysis to determine the best method, time, and medium to engage with potential buyers and convert them into customers.

What is the purpose of marketing? 

The purpose of marketing is to draw potential buyers to your business’s offerings by demonstrating product value and establishing trust in your brand and expertise, all with the ultimate goal of driving more sales. 

The benefits of marketing

There’s a reason why nearly every business and organization uses marketing strategies to generate more sales. Take a look at some of the top benefits of marketing:

  • Building an audience: Marketing is an excellent opportunity for businesses to connect with the people who are most likely to be interested in their offerings. It allows them to build an audience that wants to learn more about their products and services.
  • Educating the market: One of the most basic benefits of marketing is educating people about the value of your company’s products or services. By explaining what sets your product apart from competitors and what value it brings, you give people the knowledge to make a purchasing decision. 
  • Gathering data: Marketing is also beneficial for gathering information that can help organizations improve their operations. Marketing efforts can reveal what demographics are interested in your product, helping you target them more effectively.
  • Honing your brand identity: Marketing strategies let you carefully direct a potential customer’s perception of your brand through targeted messaging, building a favorable impression before they’ve ever interacted with your offerings. 
  • Generating sales: Finally, successful marketing efforts have the benefit of driving more sales for the company. When potential customers understand your products, have a good impression of your brand, and feel that your company can solve their problems, they’re more likely to make a purchase. 

What are the 4 P’s of marketing?

The four P’s of marketing are product, price, place, and promotion. These concepts form the foundation for what companies need to market their product or service. The four P’s of marketing were popularized by professors Neil Borden and E. Jerome McCarthy in the 1950s and 1960s and have been used to successfully market products ever since. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of the four P’s:   

  • Product: Marketing starts with a deep understanding of the product itself, including what needs it fills in the market, how it compares to competitors, and what hesitancies customers may have. 
  • Price: When determining a product’s price, companies need to consider the cost of manufacturing, marketing, and distributing the product, as well as the prices of competitors’ products and what customers are willing to pay.   
  • Place: Place refers to how the product will be distributed, whether through physical or online channels. 
  • Promotion: Promotion involves all the advertising, marketing messages, promotions, and public relations efforts used to sell the product. 

6 types of marketing

There are many ways to market your products and services to potential customers. Here are six of the most common and successful types of marketing you might use in your company:

1. Email marketing

With the rise of digital marketing, email has become a popular platform for sending marketing messages. With email marketing, people provide their email addresses to a company to receive marketing messages or newsletters directly in their inboxes. 

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2. Blog marketing 

A company’s blog or website is also a great place for marketing content. Businesses can post informational videos and articles to educate people searching for information and increase familiarity with their brand. 

3. Search engine optimization 

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a form of marketing that attempts to increase website traffic through search engine results. Companies can use various SEO techniques to naturally increase their rankings in search results. Search engine marketing is a related technique that involves placing paid ads on search engine results pages.

4. Social media marketing

Building a presence on social media is part of social media marketing. Companies use social media to share videos and photos of their products, connect with customers, and post engaging content in line with their brand. This type of marketing can also include paid ads. 

5. Video marketing

Video marketing involves writing and filming commercials, videos for your company’s website, seminars, and other types of video content. Video marketing can also include creating videos to be posted on social media.

6. Content marketing 

Sharing knowledge is a great way to establish your brand. With content marketing, marketers produce eBooks, webinars, infographics, and other downloadable content to spread awareness of their products.

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25 experts weigh in on what marketing means to them

While these definitions and types of marketing are helpful in understanding its importance, marketers also have different takes and strategies. Here are 25 inspiring quotes from some of our favorite marketing experts on what marketing is that will spur you on in your marketing efforts:

“Marketing is building relationships at scale.”
Amanda Natividad, Marketing Architect for SparkToro

“Marketing is a set of activities to get your company’s messaging, product, or service in front of your target demographic.”
Sujan Patel, Co-Founder at Mailshake

“Marketing is combining a medium (words, images, videos) with emotion to drive action from an audience.”
Hiba Amin, Senior Marketing Manager at Hypercontext

“Marketing is the stuff you do to get your customer to think about you on their way home from work.”
Paul Knegten, Executive Director of Marketing at FreeWheel

“Marketing is:

  • the business function (as well as the professional discipline embodied by that function)…
  • which orchestrates how a company takes its offerings (products and/or services) to market
  • in order to meet or exceed its business goals related to revenue (short-term / tactical) and growth (long-term / strategic).”

Chris Townsend, Chief Marketing Officer at Wellspring

Marketing involves a lot of this.

“Marketing’s job is to nurture relationships through every stage of the customer journey.”
Emily McGuire, Founder and Principal at Flourish & Grit

“Marketing is being able to understand a customer or potential customer’s pain points, and effectively communicate and articulate how your product or service can solve that issue.”
Nadya Khoja, Head of Content Strategy at Boast.AI

“Influencing a decision to change.”
Gaetano DiNardi, Director of Growth at Nextiva

“Marketing is an advanced promise that must be delivered after a stipulated period of time.”
Deb Mukherjee, Marketing Manager at Wonderment

“Marketing is helping, guiding, people to get what they want (from me) as simple and easy as I can make it.”
Bill Rice, Founder & CEO of Kaleidico, a mortgage marketing agency

“Marketing is the subconscious relationship you build with your customer.”
Shannon Stone, Digital Marketing Specialist at Invest in Canada

Marketers doing marketing.

“Marketing is a creative four-step process:

  1. decide whose mind you want to change
  2. learn as much as you can about their current mindset and define the future mindset you want them to have
  3. make some guesses about how to traverse that gap, keeping your values and finite resources in mind
  4. try the promising ideas out and invest in what works

Rinse, repeat.”
Elaine Ezekiel, Director of Marketing at Atomic Object

“Marketing is what we call the promotional fluff that’s left over when other departments control price, place, and product.”
Colin Campbell, Head of Community at Outreach

“Marketing is the art of influencing public perception of your brand, and the science of keeping your company’s cost per acquisition to a fraction of your LTV.”
Ben Goldstein, VP of Marketing at Nutshell

“Customer attention today has become a commodity; marketing helps us get the desired rental space in our customer’s mind.”
Neha Pujari, Sr Marketing Manager at Blazeclan Technologies

“Making sales easier.”
Ashley Levesque, VP of Marketing at Banzai and Host of the SaaS Breakthrough Podcast

“Marketing is the ongoing promotion of a brand, product or service through various mediums to compel a target audience to take action.”
Darren Shaw, Founder & President at Whitespark

“Marketing is the combination of activities that build trust and leverage influence bi-directionally between two groups of people.”
Lani Assaf, Marketing Lead at Elpha

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“Marketing is persuasion masquerading as entertainment.”
Mike Carroll, Head of Growth at Phenomenon

“Marketing is understanding the transformation somebody wants and helping them achieve that.”
Brendan Hufford, Growth Content Marketer at ActiveCampaign, Founder of SEO for the Rest of Us 

“Marketing is the cornerstone of a marriage between human psychology and innovation.”
Benjamin Weinberg, Digital Marketing Manager at VUE DMS.

“Marketing is the method in which your brand or company reaches out to their prospective customers to inform them about a product or service that can genuinely benefit them in their day to day lives.”
Azeem Ahmad, Digital Marketing Lead

“Marketing is finding a way to earn audiences’ trust despite blatantly having ulterior motives.”
Jack Virag, Content and SEO Strategist at Nutshell

“Marketing is a catch-all term to represent the methods and tactics of positioning of a brand, service, or product to influence purchasing choices.”
Mike McPeak, Director of Performance Marketing and Operations at Hale Trailer Brake and Wheel

“Marketing is telling the story of your [insert brand/product/service here], and inviting others into that story.”
Gregory Saunders, Growth Lead at Download Youth Ministry

The list goes on

Defining marketing concisely is no easy feat, and it doesn’t help that marketing responsibilities vary by industry, job title, and so on. Whether it’s subconsciously building relationships, or taking a company to market outright, marketing is nuanced and varied in its approaches.

Marketing is…

The predominant themes of our one-sentence answers indicate that marketing is:

  • Influencing an audience — 9 answers
  • Relationship building — 7 answers
  • Methodical storytelling — 6 answers
  • Promotion and outreach — 6 answers
  • Eliciting an action — 5 answers

So it seems like marketing is all of the above (and more), and the strategic tasks like managing PPC channels and producing virtual events are just the tactics marketers use to get there.

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