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? 

To solve this great mystery, we asked 25 of our favorite marketing leaders to give us a one-sentence definition of the term. You can read their brilliant answers below.

By the way…are you a marketing leader who wants to add your own definition of marketing to the list? Email [email protected] and if we dig your answer, we’ll include it.

What is marketing?

“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

“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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