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Semantic confusion surrounding modern marketing

There are numerous marketing terms that are being misused so often these days that I often find it necessary to give a quick lecture on semantics before presenting, training or consulting with clients. If this is not done from the get-go, then consensus within a group is nearly impossible to attain. Even if two people fundamentally agree on something, they have no way of knowing due to the fact that their initial paradigms are different. A great visual example of this is the famous illustration of the old lady/young lady I have included in this post.

As a result, I have now included a page of definitions in my Social Media Engagement Workbook, for the sole purpose of setting context. While the individual definitions vary, what is important for me is to set the “relative” context, so that differences between terms are well understood.

Marketing: The management process through which goods and services move from concept to the customer (or citizen in the case of government). As a philosophy, it is based on thinking about your offering in terms of customer needs and their satisfaction. As a practice, it consists in coordination of four elements called 4P’s:  (1) identification, selection, and development of a product, (2) determination of its price, (3) selection of a distribution channel to reach the customer’s place, and (4) development and implementation of a promotional strategy.

Note: Marketing differs from selling because (in the words of Harvard Business School’s emeritus professor of marketing Theodore C. Levitt) “Selling concerns itself with the tricks and techniques of getting people to exchange their cash for your product. It is not concerned with the values that the exchange is all about. And it does not, as marketing invariably does, view the entire business process as consisting of a tightly integrated effort to discover, create, arouse, and satisfy customer/citizen needs .” Marketing is also not the same as advertising! Advertising is just one of the numerous options available when developing a promotional strategy, which in turn is just 1 of the 4P’s of marketing (I recently elaborated on this in my blog post entitled ” The Girl Effect“).

Social Marketing: The systematic application of marketing along with other concepts and techniques to achieve specific behavioural goals for social good (e.g. anti-smoking marketing program).

Note: Do not confuse “social marketing” with “social media marketing”.

Social Media Engagement: 2-way engagement on social media platforms with online communities to generate exposure, opportunity and achievement of set goals using a strategic process.

Note: Requires an understanding of the new rules of engagement in the era of web 2.0 in addition to traditional strategic planning.

Social Media Marketing: Integrating social media into an overall strategic marketing plan. Follows all of the same steps as social media engagement; however it is specific to marketing goals and addresses traditional marketing elements such as the 4P’s, segmentation, targeting and positioning more closely.

Note: Please do not ever confuse social media marketing with advertising on social media channels. Advertising is merely one of many promotional approaches that can be used.

Brand: A collection of experiences and associations connected with a service, a person or any other entity. Effective “branding” practices allow organizations to influence what those experiences and associations are.

Note: Your brand is not your logo! A logo is just one small element of “visual branding’, which in turn is a subset of “branding”.

So there you have it, these are just a few of the modern marketing terms that I find myself explaining on a regular basis. Naturally, there are many more. I’m open to additional suggestions based on your experiences.

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  1. […] in a while I like to go back to the basics. A while back I wrote a post clarifying the meaning of the word marketing and corresponding terms such as social marketing, social media marketing, and social […]

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