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What is Marketing?

I ran a design and marketing workshop for small businesses a little while ago and I wanted to provide the class with a definition on marketing. It turns out, this sounds much easier than it actually is. Marketing is so diverse and broad that everyone has their own idea of what it is and how it works. This is my version of marketing and how I use it with my clients.

In my opinion: Marketing is the effective and strategic planning and management of all aspects of communication, engagement and presentation of a business; including, but not limited to: visual, verbal, sensory, feeling, unconscious and written.

What marketing does is allows you to plan the outgoing communication for your business which in turn presents the business in an accurate and consistent way to the correct target audience while also controlling perceptions as much as possible to enhance 'conversions' and purchasing behaviour.

Marketing uses research, analysis, trends, experience and technical skill to deliver optimal results and solutions for your business; by way of: wording and descriptions (in written text and spoken word), traditional and modern advertising (print, radio, TV, digital, influencers, etc.), organic methods (brand ambassadors, natural growth, awareness over time, through word of mouth or as something people need).

The common misconception is that marketing costs A LOT, but this isn't necessarily true. There are areas of marketing like networking and creating brand ambassadors that require very little financial investment and then there are typical advertising avenues like TV, print and radio that vary in their expense and results. What you do depends on what your business is, who your target audience is and where (geographically) they are.

I work on the theory that every business is unique and therefore requires tailored marketing solutions, but that there are basic marketing foundations that all businesses should build upon. These require planning (with someone who knows what they are doing) and a financial investment relative to your budget, business and end goal.

The basic marketing foundations:

  • Business Plan: so you know what your business does, who your target audience is and what budget you have to work with as well as your goals (so you know what you are aiming for). Here I would usually start coming up with general descriptions of the business that would then be expanded upon in the brand development process.

  • Brand Development: A great logo and visual identity (imagery, icons, patterns, colours, styling) with a catchy description and tagline that reflects you and your business and attracts your target audience + this also sets up your marketing and communication style going forwards

  • Website: this acts as your online HQ/hub so people can find you easily and learn more about your product, develop an idea of what to expect from your business and purchase your product or service, or find out where you are so they can visit in person.

  • Marketing Collateral: This will vary from business to business, but in general everyone needs a business card + some printed form of marketing, such as rack card, brochure, flyer, booklet, pull up banner, etc. When it comes to marketing and promotional collateral the options are endless, and so it comes down to budget and how to spend it in the most effective way.

  • Have a Plan: When you know who your target audience is, you can then figure out the best way to reach them. This comes down to market research(asking questions) and general research of what promotional platforms this audience uses. If you are advertising in the wrong places, you are just throwing your money away, so it is important to get this right.

To make your marketing work successfully without wasting time or money there are a few things you need to consider:

  • Style (Copywriting + Visual Design): How to present everything. Is it fun and upbeat with bright colours and hilarious images of goats in pajamas or is it subdued with de-saturated tones and an exceptional use of the English language? Minimalist, bold, colourful, floral... etc.

  • Customer Experience: what do your customers experience on their journey to you? Is it easy to find you and learn about your product or service? Can they get in touch or order easily? People don't like working hard for things, everything needs to be straightforward, fast-loading, easy to navigate with limited clicks from start to finish.

  • Consistency: you need to look the same and be saying the same consistent things across ALL platforms that represent your business to appear professional, organised and trustworthy.

Why people purchase is important so you can capitalise on where your product or service fits into the market and therefore how to make sales. Learn a bit about buyer behaviour; Why do you buy things? Why do you buy something instead of something similar?... Some of the reasons:

  • Necessity - Everyone needs certain things like toilet paper or chocolate

  • Impulse - You saw it and you had to have it!

  • Price - It was either cheap or expensive... or just right

  • Styling - It looks/feels/smells awesome! Better than the rest

  • Promotion - You saw or heard an advert that made you want it

  • Brand Name - Nike, Coca Cola, MacDonalds. It is a well-known (or little known) brand

  • Environmentally Friendly - More environmentally sustainable than other options

  • Convenience - It was there when you wanted or needed it

  • Unique/One of a kind - It is handmade, crafted locally and extra special

  • Family - Your family have always used it, so you do too. Tried & tested, don’t fix if it ain't broke

  • Safety - It's safety rating was higher than competitors

  • Recommended - It was recommended to you by a person you trust

  • Rating - You checked out it's rating and people regularly give it rave reviews and 5 stars

  • Meaning - It has a deep meaning that resonates with you

  • Feelings - It makes you feel amazing! It's snuggly, cute, tasty, it makes you happy :)

While generally business success comes down to marketing a good product or service - it actually ultimately comes down to you. Your choices, persistence and commitment will make the difference in your success or failure (alongside the quality of product or service you are offering). We all do things differently and that is the key... be authentic, be different and do it your way... but do it right.

I can give you the tools and strategies to improve presentation, communication and performance, but if you don't see that you and your business are worth investing in, then you can't expect others to either. Back yourself. You've got this. You don't need to do it alone.

This blog is to give you an idea that marketing is everywhere in business (and life) and you need to be aware of that. Community fundraisers, raffle tickets, competitions, propaganda, sponsors, publicity stunts, stories, etc. are all forms of marketing - people are becoming more and more creative which gives you more scope to work in, but also means you need to be careful with what you believe... we are all being marketed to at almost all times of the day. The stories we tell each other, the spin the media put on news to garner specific reactions, this blog... haha... it's all a form of communication and sharing of ideas... marketing.

Thanks for reading! Amanda Sears

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