Marketing – it’s a term popularly misunderstood. Ask a group of people what marketing means and most will tell you it’s about advertising or, these days, social media. And, sure, marketing includes both of those.
Building credible connections
But, at its core, marketing is about connecting buyers to sellers. It isn’t about pushing anything on anyone. It’s about facilitating an interaction or exchange. The buyer has a need and looks to get it addressed. The seller has an offering and looks to get it to the buyer. Though traditional marketing ideology calls these participants buyers and sellers, the terminology can be a bit misleading. You don’t have to pay or receive money for the exchange. A government official marketing polio vaccines in 1958 or crash test dummy seat belt ads in 1988 is “selling” a concept, just as the parent choosing a vaccine or buckling up their kid is “buying” the idea. In marketing speak, products include services, ideas, people and places, not just hard and soft goods.
So, what marketing really means is connecting the participants in an exchange. If we want to get a bit academic, like I do when I teach marketing courses, we could say that marketing involves connecting all the participants and institutions in an exchange in the marketplace. But, gee whiz, that sounds a bit boring. Let’s stick with saying marketing means connecting buyers to sellers.
But what makes it possible for buyers and sellers to connect? What makes someone trust an organization enough to try its food, banking account, counselling program, government service, legal advice or fitness program? Some people will say it’s all about tricking people or pushing them into doing thing they don’t want – that marketing is about pressuring and manipulating people.
Putting trust at the heart of marketing
Good marketing puts trust at the centre of the relationship between buyers and sellers. Think about it. If you push someone to buy, manipulate them, trick them and then deliver something they don’t want, what’s going to happen? That person is not going to return and they may, in fact, tell all their friends to stay clear. In this day and age, they may well jump on Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and other social media to make sure everyone they know – and then some – steers clear. Pushing things on unsuspecting customers is hardly a recipe for marketing success.
However, when organizations put trust at the forefront, they create success stories. People like to buy from people and organizations they know and respect. The like to feel like they’ve made the right decision. Some of them even enjoy telling others how much they appreciated the product or service – and those people trust them and their experiences. Marketing is about creating trust, about building credibility and delivering on it.
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