A client recently shared a story about how the marketing job ends when the customer makes it through the doors. From there it the closing responsibility falls on the staff, process, product etc. While there are some aspects I agree with in this comment, and taken out of context seems a little disjointed, it is important to define Marketing.

To do this, I was reminded of a excerpt from a book that I read some time ago, I’ve found the passage a few places on the web, so not sure of it’s original source.  For sake of reference, the book I read was written by Allan Dib,  The 1-Page Marketing Plan, ignoring the quality of the read, and the content as a whole, the passage to define marketing is pretty good.

If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying ‘Circus Coming to the Showground Saturday’, that’s advertising.

If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion.

If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed and the local newspaper writes a story about it, that’s publicity.

And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations.

If the town’s citizens go to the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales.

And if you planned the whole thing, that’s marketing.


Circling back on the initial remarks from my client, I agree that Marketing is a team sport. Meaning the best marketer will fail if the team around them is bad, and everything is interconnected. I believe that marketing encompasses everything the end user/customer touches. From your website, to the customer service, packaging and signage. Even the exterior of your building can be a marketing responsibility. It is this very reason that it’s so hard to explain “what do you do” at cocktail parties, or to business owners who assume incorrectly that marketing is only graphic design, advertising or websites. Being able to see both the forest and the individual trees is what makes a marketer successful.

Another way that I like to think of marketing, is like the NFL. Marketing is the head coach (possibly a positions coach depending on the size of the organization). In this example, the coach has bosses, the owner, GM etc. and is judged by the wins and losses despite not physically playing a down. What they do is plan, organize and put the right people/tools in place for the best outcome. Each NFL coach has a global plan, and one that changes from week to week. What I love about the similarities, is that every marketing plan should have both the big picture concepts the direct the overall strategy, and smaller digestible action plans (the weekly/quarterly plan for what’s in front of you). Then it’s up to your talent and tools (Sale Manager, Front Desk Staff, Product, Website etc.) to execute and make it a success.