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What Is Marketing & Why Your Business Can't Do Without It

Teodora Kuhanec

Apr 3, 2024

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Have you just launched a new product or service that you want to get the word out about? Maybe you want to share with consumers why it is awesome and how it is so much better than the one your competitors offer.

Well, then, there is one thing you can't do without...Marketing!

A well-thought-out marketing strategy in combination with a marketing communication strategy is essential if you want to stand out and ensure the growth of your business.

For most people, marketing means advertising—in magazines, on billboards, social media channels, or on television. But marketing is much more. In fact, it encompasses so many tactics (social media marketing, email marketing, referral marketing, etc.) that we can't explain all of the elements of the marketing process in this one post.

However, we will shed some light on this broad topic and focus on:

  • The definition of marketing 
  • Commonly used marketing terms
  • The importance of marketing
  • The types & principles of marketing
  • Examples of successful marketing techniques 
  • Marketing tips & more

Sounds good? Great ☺️ Let’s get started. 

Table of Contents

What Is Marketing?

There are as many fish in the sea as there are definitions of marketing

So, how do you explain marketing?

At a fundamental level, marketing is the process of understanding your consumer as well as building or maintaining customer relationships.

We have dug out a few quotes from the World Wide Web to give you a better idea of what marketing actually is. 

Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.

American Marketing Association

According to Philip Kotler, the "Father of Modern Marketing", it is ...

...the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit. Marketing identifies unfulfilled needs and desires. It defines, measures and quantifies the size of the identified market and the profit potential. It pinpoints which segments the company is capable of serving best, and it designs and promotes the appropriate products and services.

If you do not work in Marketing, then you still may be wondering: What do people in marketing do? As the definitions above try to explain, marketers try to attract customers that might be interested in buying a firm's product or service through highly targeted messaging and communications or advertising. Marketers use several different channels to try and reach consumers, and there are certain marketing terms that often pop up when explaining these various methods of messaging delivery, for example:

But what exactly do they mean?

Keep reading to find out. 

The number seven is displayed on a turquoise background

7 Marketing Terms Everyone Should Know

By now, you already might have sensed that marketing is a complex topic consisting of numerous concepts and terms. Especially for beginners, this can be a bit overwhelming and confusing. 

Therefore, we have prepared a short glossary of 77 important marketing terms which every marketer should be familiar with.

1. Traditional Marketing

Simply put, traditional marketing establishes a connection with the customer via offline advertising channels, e.g.:

A billboard promoting the Dictionary hostel, the phrase “Sleep with people from around the world” is displayed

Marketers engaging in traditional advertising practices aim is to reach the masses—after all, the more people are watching your TV ad or reading an article about your product or service, the higher the chance you will attract more leads and boost your sales. 

2. Digital Marketing 

In comparison with traditional methods, a digital marketing strategy refers to online marketing efforts.

When a marketing department is focused on engaging and reaching potential new or existing customers via the Internet, the team will be using marketing channels like:

  • social media platforms
  • Google Ads 
  • email (email marketing)
  • corporate websites
  • Smart TVs

Your customers may only be active on online channels, offline channels, or, most likely, a mix of both. To figure out what's the right mix of traditional and digital marketing to engage in, companies often hire a marketing agency to help them reach their target audience so that they can build strong customer relationships.

Once you know where to find your customers, consider creating an omnichannel marketing strategy.

3. Direct Marketing

Direct marketing can be seen as a presentation of your company, product, or service to your target customers. It aims to find, reach and motivate customers to take action—by buying your product. Oftentimes, the call-to-action for the consumer is the buy or try your product or service, which isn't necessarily the same with traditional and digital marketing campaigns that may focus more on brand awareness.

Direct marketing includes not only traditional (TV commercials, radio spots, magazine ads, etc.) as well as digital marketing strategies (email marketing, search engine advertising, etc.).  

Trade shows, marketing conferences, and fairs can also serve as great occasions for promoting your business directly to customers.

A woman surrounded by sliced lemons and oranges

Here is a fictional example of direct marketing

Teen magazine subscribers are presented with skincare display advertisements on Facebook, Instagram & Co. 


Because it is commonly known that teenagers often struggle with their skin and are therefore more likely to buy a skin care product compared to other age groups.

4. Inbound Marketing

In simple terms, inbound marketing (or pull marketing) is the process of helping your target audience find you and your business, for example via search engines.

It is focused on nurturing customer relationships, building the brand, and raising brand awareness by gaining the trust of (potential) customers. 

You can do this for example by creating relevant, educational, entertaining content. If you establish some kind of communication with the target audience if people are engaging with your content, the chance of them converting to customers increases. 

When done correctly, inbound marketing can give you much better results than for example traditional marketing methods. 


Because your customers don’t feel like they are being sold to. 

Here are some examples of inbound marketing:

Tip: Already a simple engagement in a discussion on social media platforms or posting a link to an informative article can work miracles for your business.

A red corded phone on a white background

5. Outbound Marketing 

In contrast, outbound marketing (also known as push marketing) consists of traditional methods, such as direct mail, cold calling, radio or television ads, telemarketing, etc. 

In other words: A marketer reaches out to people and establishes communication with them to see if they're interested in a product or service. 

Another term for it is interruption marketing

And we all have experienced it at some point…

...Being interrupted by an unwanted telemarketing call while enjoying a delicious meal or a cup of coffee. Sounds familiar? 

6. B2B Marketing (Business-to-Business)

B2B marketing (business-to-business) focuses on—as the name already suggests—selling products or services directly to other businesses and their decision-makers.

Business-to-business marketing is essential when one company needs the services/products of another company to improve or maintain its operations.

This can be everything from a table management software for restaurants to office spaces to rent.

7. B2C Marketing (Business-to-Consumer)

B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing does not sell to other businesses but to customers for personal use—from clothes, electronic devices, smartphones, sunglasses to gardening services, and much more. 

Now that you know the common marketing terms, it is time to answer the following question…

Green stadium seats, among them is a yellow one

What Is the Main Purpose of Marketing?

There are many articles debating the role of marketing and why every business needs it. 

We could provide you with an extensive list of bullet points demonstrating the importance of marketing, however, we have chosen to keep it simple and straightforward. 

The purpose of marketing is to:

  1. Understand what your customers need and want by conducting marketing research and using these insights to boost your business.
  2. Deliver revenue for your company, e.g. by building brand awareness and promoting offers on various marketing channels, during events (aka event marketing), etc.
  3. Make the product or service you are bringing to the market (e.g. product marketing) memorable and relevant for the consumer. 

When it comes to the underlying purpose of your marketing efforts, you need to understand the difference between transactional marketing and relationship marketing.

Tip: If you want to stand out from the rest and convey your message in accordance with your company’s principles, a striking creative is worth investing in. Also, take a look at 5 Things a Successful Marketing Manager Does Every Morning.

But wait a minute, isn’t making a profit, building brand awareness, leading customers down the marketing funnel, and building customer relationships also the purpose of sales and advertising?

Ergo...are marketing, sales, and advertising the same thing?

Not quite. 

Marketing vs. Sales 

Although many might think of marketing and sales as synonyms, there is a significant difference between them.

While sales works directly with prospects to get them to convert to customers, marketing is concerned with sparking interest in a product or service. 

Think of marketing as the forerunner for the sales team. With the marketing process, you convey to the target audience 

  • who you are
  • what you have to offer
  • how much it costs
  • how your product can solve their problems

After the people become interested in your offer, the sales team takes the lead by 

  • providing additional information about the product
  • answering any possible questions
  • mentioning personalized solutions
  • making pitches

As you can see, the terms are not interchangeable, however, both departments have to work closely together to make it work 😎 The marketing department is an essential part of the lead generation process, and plays a big part in providing Sales with qualified leads that are likely more interested in your company's product or service than a person receiving a cold call.

In this blog more information on B2B Marketing and B2B Sales

Marketing vs. Advertising 

If marketing is a cake, advertising is a piece of it. 

The marketing process is very complex as it entails various elements, such as

  • new product development
  • market research 
  • market segmentation
  • PR
  • supply chain management
  • customer support & more

Marketing is essential in every stage of a company’s selling journey. It uses different distribution or marketing channels, teams, social media, etc. to determine its target audience and marketing tribes, communicate with it, and build brand loyalty. 

Advertising on the other hand is just one component of marketing, where companies pay to spread awareness about a service or product (e.g. on TV, social media platforms).  

Now that you know the difference between the concept of marketing, sales, and advertising, it is time to shift our attention to something equally important … the customer. 

A small shopping cart with money in it

Marketing & the Role of the Customer

The purpose of a business is to get and keep a customer. Without customers, no amount of engineering wizardry, clever financing, or operations expertise can keep a company going.

—Theodore Levitt (Economist & Harvard Business School Professor)

The fact is, that there would be no businesses without people willing to buy the offered goods.

And marketing is instrumental in making sure companies succeed in attracting and keeping customers. Marketing supports a business's ability to: 

  1. Identify customers 
  2. Satisfy customers
  3. Retain customers

Those are the goals of marketing. 

Let us briefly tap into each of the steps. 

Before a company is able to create something of value, it has to identify the prospective customers and what the customer needs. One way to go about this is with the help of a social listening tool like the one from Meltwater. Don’t worry, we will cover the advantages of such a tool in more detail later on.

Did you know? We offer a Meltwater suite targeted toward marketing!

The next phase is to satisfy those customer needs by launching a product or service addressing them. Make sure the customers feel like they will benefit from it. Satisfied customers are happy with the value they get for the price they pay (customer value). 

The last step for the marketing department is to retain the customers so they don’t switch to the competition. How? By constantly following the marketing trends, collecting competitive data, and creating new products which are adapted to the ever-changing desires of the target market. 

But did you know that customers can also be a very powerful marketing tool?  

A green typewriter with a piece of paper displaying the word review

Customers as Your #1 Marketing Tool

Have you recently had an amazing brunch at a new bistro and just want to share your opinion about it online?

No problemo. 

There are numerous websites specifically designed just for that. 

Service providers like restaurateurs, hairdressers, personal trainers, dentists, etc. often ask their customers to post reviews (user-generated content) about their experience on social media channels or on one of the recommendation sites like Yelp & Co. Product providers use the same tactic. 

Although you can risk getting a bad review, companies usually benefit from reviews about the authentic experience their customers share.

There is another upside to it. By reading reviews, businesses can get valuable feedback and see what they are doing right and what needs to be improved. Consequently, they can tweak their products or services to match customer needs. 

And speaking about customer needs….some restaurants, motels & Co. clearly didn’t manage to satisfy them, as the following video shows 🤣

Source: jennxpenn

Tip: To understand your customers and your marketing success better, learn more about campaign measurement, marketing campaign measurement tools, how to measure your ad campaign effectiveness, measuring email marketing campaigns, measuring digital marketing campaigns, and how to measure social media campaigns. These marketing metrics will help you put together your reports.

After that laugh, let’s now take a look at different types of marketing. 

Ready to dive into it?

Types of Marketing

Although there are hundreds and hundreds of different types of marketing, we will cover six which are commonly used by businesses (big and small) all over the world.  

1. Content Marketing 

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

Content Marketing Institute

Content marketing is usually considered a type of digital marketing, but it can also take place offline. Examples of content marketing include blogs, social media posts, infographics, etc.

Producing great and valuable content has many benefits for your business, two of them being:

  • More qualified leads: Content that is of value for your target audience not only attracts more leads to your website, but it also helps to ensure that those leads are qualified and really interested in buying what you have to offer. 
  • Increased customer loyalty: If you are implementing a content marketing strategy, you have to keep in mind that your main objective should be to help your customers solve their problems, not sell to them. Identify the problems your prospects have and offer them a solution (this can be in the form of a guide, webinars, tips, etc.). Such an approach builds loyalty and your potential as well as existing customers will value your brand more. 

2. Search Engine Optimization  

Search Engine Optimization, also commonly known as SEO, is the practice of optimizing the content on your website and other channels to increase the traffic and exposure of your brand, via organic (non-paid) search engine results. 

SEO is not only about making your content more visible to search engines, but also about understanding what people are searching for online and what words they are using to find the answers.  

If you know these things, you will be able to adapt your content accordingly, which will connect you to people who are looking for the solution you are offering.  

3. Video Marketing 

Video marketing is the use of video for business promotion. It has become a necessity for marketers as it enables them to 

  • reach and capture the audience
  • raise awareness about a product or service
  • drive leads to the website
  • generate more sales

Video content can be published on different marketing channels, e.g. your website, blog, or social media, as well as on third-party sites, such as YouTube or Vimeo. 

If you want to be a successful video marketer, you need to ask yourself what kind of video content would work best for spreading your message to the target audience. 

A clapperboard on a yellow background, popcorn is coming out of it

You can choose among numerous types of videos, for example: 

  • brand and product videos
  • explainer videos
  • interviews
  • client testimonials
  • webinars
  • live videos 
  • event recap
  • YouTube Shorts
  • workshops etc. 

Did you know live streams are also a part of real-time marketing?

4. Social Media Marketing 

Social media marketing (SMM) is the use of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok & Co. to market your brand. 

Sounds pretty simple, right? 

However, an important element is missing in this definition. 

The key to successful social media marketing is to publish tailored content for each of those social media channels.

Having a social media marketing strategy (whether you are a small company or an established corporation) is essential for business growth, it is all about connecting with your customers by building a relationship with your brand through social media. 

A young woman wearing modern clothes

5. Influencer Marketing 

Influencers drive knowledge, opinion and “influence” their followers. They have a voice, a large audience and create quality content on social media platforms that inspires other people to engage and communicate with them. 

Companies all over the world have embraced this trend and use influencer marketing to promote their products and services.  

If you think influencer marketing might be suitable for you, make sure to approach the right influencer for the right campaign. 

Most influencers have thousands of followers and are likable. 

However, do not base your decision on this only. Instead, ask yourself…

  • Is the influencer able to drive engagement?
  • Does he/she have social proof?
  • Is he/she an authority in his/her field?

After you have partnered up with an influencer, you need to connect your brand with the influencer’s lifestyle and overall brand image.

Always keep in mind that influencers are brands too!

They have their own follower base with certain expectations concerning the published content. If you ignore this and don’t establish a connection between your brand and the influencer’s lifestyle/image, they might lose their authenticity and consequently, their followers. 

If you are interested in finding out more about this niche, check out our post with tips to master influencer marketing. 

6. Guerilla Marketing

As there is a little rebel in each and every one of us, we want to mention another type of marketing that stands out from the rest—guerrilla marketing

The goal of guerrilla techniques? Surprise!

By creating unconventional campaigns which catch people off guard amidst their daily routines, such marketing methods become memorable and tend to be very effective. 

Check out this short video showing an innovative Volkswagen guerilla marketing campaign. 

Guerilla marketing has several advantages: 

  • it is creative
  • relatively inexpensive
  • it creates buzz
  • can go viral on social media 
  • it lends itself to word-of-mouth marketing opportunities 
  • stirs up emotions etc. 

Well done, we have covered the types of marketing. What comes next? 

Another aspect of marketing worth mentioning is definitely the marketing mix aka. the 7Ps of marketing. 

A mix of different sized pencils is laying on a blue surface

Marketing Mix: The Principles & Practice of Marketing

If you are new to marketing and are reading posts about it on a daily basis, you have most probably encountered the term marketing mix.

Marketing mix refers to the basic principles and techniques a company uses to promote its products and services on the market. 

The marketing mix originally consisted of four elements (4Ps of marketing), however, it has now expanded to seven (7Ps of marketing). Let us briefly take a look at those. 

  1. Product: what is being sold
  2. Price: the price your customer is willing to pay for the product/service
  3. Place: distribution channels and availability of your product/service for potential customers
  4. Promotion: what is communicated, who it is communicated to, how that audience is reached and how often promotion takes place
  5. People: everyone who is involved in selling a product or service, designing it, managing teams, representing customers, etc.
  6. Process: actions taken to deliver the product or service to the consumer
  7. Physical Evidence: proof that a purchase took place as well as confirmation of the existence of your brand (invoices, brochures, tracking information, etc.)

And now the time has come to show you some real-world examples of companies whose creative marketing strategy really paid off. 

Marketing Done Right: Examples of a Successful Marketing Strategy

Nowadays, we are exposed to numerous ads everywhere we go. Consequently, in order for an ad or a marketing campaign to captivate us, it has to be really extraordinary.  So it’s no surprise that a successful marketing campaign is in a way a work of art. 

The question is, how do you achieve this? 

There is ONE thing you HAVE to do:

Connect your brand to the aspirations and ideals of your target audience...Leverage consumer lifestyles and incorporate them into your marketing efforts (lifestyle marketing).

Below are a few examples of a marketing campaign done right. 

1. Burberry: Virtual Kisses for Everyone 💋

Burberry Kisses is probably one of the most interesting marketing campaigns out there. 

The aim was to promote a lipstick line by focusing on something we all love to do—kissing. 

For the campaign, Burberry and Google launched a special app enabling the user to select a lipstick and to send a virtual kiss to anyone around the world by pressing their lips on the smartphone display. 

And another cool thing about could follow the journey of the kiss via Google Street View or Google Places. 

This marketing campaign created a lot of buzz for the brand as it focussed on two things…

...human emotions and our desire to feel connected with other people.  

A picture of the Burberry virtual kiss campaign on Instagram

2. GoPro & User-Generated Content 📸

GoPro cameras are extremely popular with adrenaline junkies and sports enthusiasts, which is something the company uses to its advantage. 

GoPro created a video editing program that incorporates the logo and branding elements in each clip. The customers create and submit their videos, and GoPro posts the user-generated content on social media channels.  

A man is scuba diving in crystal clear waters

Such an approach has a snowball effect as it motivates other GoPro users to join the “hype”. 

The company even went a step further by rewarding creators of the best content with gear, cash & more. 

Result? Customer loyalty and social proof!

We are almost at the end of our guide, however, the emphasis is on ALMOST. 

5 Marketing Tips to Boost Your Business [2024]

To get you started on your journey as a marketer, we want to give you a brief overview of marketing trends in 2024

  1. Update your website & make it mobile-friendly: Create a user-friendly and visually appealing website. Your users don’t spend much time on your website, so keep in mind that first impressions count! 
    Moreover, it is important for your website to be optimized for mobile use so you are always reachable for your visitors.
  2. Invest in paid social: Paid advertising options have come up on Instagram, Pinterest & Co., they are basically everywhere. Social media platforms are adjusting their algorithms, which means that brands will get online visibility only if they are willing to spend their budget on paid promotion. 
  3. Automate your tasks: By using special software to automate marketing tasks like reporting (learn more about how to create a marketing report), publishing social media posts, or sending out marketing emails you will save yourself valuable time and be able to focus on projects with a higher priority. Use the right marketing tool stack to save time.
  4. Use video content on social media: Social media marketing is booming and compared to static content, video has proven to be more effective in generating leads (just think of the rise of TikTok).  
  5. Be Authentic: You will only attract customers and keep their attention if you are authentic. Stay true to your core values, be sincere in your storytelling, and the audience will value it. 

Woohoo... you’ve made it! Well done 👍

We have covered all the important points you need to know if you want to make a start on marketing. 

Of Course, you will need a good team, creative ideas, an impressive product...but also the right tool! 

Meltwater can help you with the latter 😉

From Zero to Marketing Superhero — with Meltwater

Our Meltwater Suite for marketing professionals has everything your business needs to excel in  

  • Influencer marketing
  • Social listening
  • Audience insights

Below we have listed some of the awesome benefits the Meltwater tool has to offer. 

Illustration of a woman with a shopping cart on top of a laptop
  • ✔️State-of-the-art filters to find influencers who are relevant to your audience and the topics they care about. 
  • ✔️One central platform to create marketing campaign briefs, distribute communications, manage content approval and contracts.
  • ✔️Unique influencer links, portfolio tracking & full marketing ROI analysis to justify the value of your influencer marketing campaign. 
  • ✔️Top-notch rights management to instantly share user-generated content across your social media platforms.
  • ✔️Automatic mapping of your products to your content images to give your audience easy ways to discover and shop the products they find in your content. 
  • ✔️Advanced audience insight reports to understand the communities and commonalities that drive the social media conversations around your brand, your industry, and your competitors.
  • ✔️Curated feeds to highlight brand mentions on social media platforms and in the news.

...and many more. 

Our social listening tool has also helped established corporations like SodaStream and Google to overcome their business challenges.

The influence ranking system is the best we've seen in the industry. It truly excels when it comes to drilling down into the content for context; for example seeing past conversations..Through looking at past conversational history, we can see if an influencer has changed their opinion of us, is consistent in their comments and the timeframe between engagements. This makes my job a whole lot easier when it comes to making sense of current and past relationships from an influencer collaboration perspective.

—Itai Bichler, Head of Global Digital Marketing at SodaStream

First, it gives us the reach, engagement and sentiment data that we're looking for, above and beyond our own channels. We're not just interested in understanding how our own posts perform, we want to know what the larger conversation looks like. Second, with the automation, we are able to automatically pull data into our own internal dashboards, which is incredibly valuable from a time perspective.

—Katie Miller, Program Manager, The Cloud Developer Relations Team 

To learn more about how to improve your marketing strategy with Meltwater, fill out the form below.