Words have power and ‘marketing’ is a very weak word. It’s vague and fluffy and this results in vague and fluffy activities being performed in its name. Plus, everyone seems to have a different view of what it actually covers. The Chartered Institute of Marketing have a very succinct and widely quoted definition of marketing:

“Marketing is the management process for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”  The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

Which is great but it feels rather cold and impersonal. I prefer this definition by Kotler and Armstrong. Which has more personality:

“The process by which companies create value for customers and build strong customer relationships in order to capture value from customers in return.” Kotler and Armstrong (2010).

Both definitions are the same in principle but use different words and so create a different feeling and ultimately focus. The second talks about creating ‘value’ for customers, not just satisfying ‘requirements’. Value creation can go way beyond simply giving customers what they want. For example, think about the way Apple held back sales of the Iphone to create huge excitement and therefore massively increasing the products value. Now that is ‘value creation’ genius and gets to the core of what marketing is really all about. If they had been focussed on ‘satisfying customer requirements’ they would have just sold the Iphones as soon as they were available.

My point is that by using a vague term such as ‘marketing’ to define what we do we often miss the point. Which is an issue for marketing teams but also for those outside of marketing, especially if they are the CFO or CEO. The result is that focus is not where it should be and marketers get caught up in operational details, or the latest trending media channel. We focus on the mechanics of ‘marketing’ and not creating value.

In the modern world of customer empowerment through easier access to knowledge and competitor’s products or services it’s even more vital that we focus on value. I’ve talked before about how marketers should always be focussed on creating a ‘Positive Value Exchange’ that works in their customer’s favour, every time, all the time.

So why not ditch the vague titles with ‘marketing’ in them and exchange it for ‘value’ so we all keep focussed on what really matters. Especially for the more senior marketers out there such as CMO’s. It may just be words but words have power and using the right ones can make all the difference.