What does Marketing mean?

Whenever I have the chance to meet a marketer (specially senior level ones), one of the first questions I like to ask them is:

” What does marketing really mean to you?”

It may be a simple question, but it makes sense as most of marketers can’t answer or don’t really have it in mind. In some how is like if you ask to a football player “what is football to you?” or to an artist “What does art mean?”


According to Philip Kotler, considered the father of Marketing,  is “the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit“. However, I do like much more a simple definition he states on is his personal site: “Marketing identifies unfulfilled needs and desires. It defines, measures and quantifies the size of the identified market and the profit potential”, in other words, Marketing satisfies customer needs.

Another great definition he does on his personal site, is the fact that sometimes companies don’t need marketing departments. So the question is, “Do we need Marketing?”


Sometimes, my master students tell me: “My company does not need marketing, our product is good enough to promote it”. In this point, my student is right and wrong:

  1. Companies don’t need marketing: Wrong. Every company need to develop marketing activities: understand the market place and your competitors, analyze customer satisfaction and develop short-mid term plans are marketing activities that every company should do
  2. Companies may not need marketing department. Right. According to Porter,  it can be positive to have a marketing department “because it unites a group of trained people who focus on the marketing task” however, he is totally when he states that “It’s also bad because marketing activities should not be carried out in a single department but they should be manifest in all the activities of the organization. 

In other words, companies may not need marketing department, but they need to plan and perform marketing activities, which means that at least one person (marketing manager, CEO or Sales Director) needs to understand “What marketing does mean?” and to design and implement a marketing plan along with the financial and strategic plan of the company