Marketing is defined by the Wikipedia dictionary as a business term referring to the promotion of products, especially advertising and branding. The term developed from the original meaning which referred literally to going to market, as in shopping, or going to a market to sell goods or services.

In professional usage the term has a wider meaning of the practice and science of trading. The American Marketing Association (AMA) states, “Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.”

Marketing practice tends to be seen as a creative industry, which includes advertising, distribution and selling. It is also concerned with anticipating the customers’ future needs and wants, which are often discovered through market research.

The scientific study of marketing is a wide and heavily interconnected subject with extensive academic publications. Marketing methods are also informed by many of the social sciences, particularly psychology, sociology, and economics. Anthropology is also a small, but growing influence. Market research underpins these activities. Through advertising, it is also related to many of the creative arts. The marketing literature is also infamous for re-inventing itself and its vocabulary according to the times and the culture.

So as you can see marketing is a very complex subject that is linked with advertising and branding. It is ever evolving because human wants and needs are ever changing. Technology is the main reason we change what we buy, but there are other reasons, too. Fads and trends also dictate what we buy. It is the task for marketing experts to discover what these trends will be. One of the primary sources for discovering this is market testing.

Online market testing is done all the time, typically for one product at a time. Checking the search engine tools we can discover what people are searching for online. The frequency that a keyword or key phrase is used gives us an indication of just exactly what people were searching for during the previous month and the same is true of trends.

In the early 1960s Professor E. Jerome McCarthy of the Harvard Business School established the four Ps to be:

Placement and
Product is the process of marketing that establishes the wants and needs of consumers or to be more precise the benefits that the product will produce for the end user.

Price is simply determining the cost of an item done usually through comparison shopping like-products.

Placement is only concerned with the distribution of the product or how it will be delivered to the consumer.

Promotion includes advertising, public awareness, and branding and speaks of the various ways get the word out about the product or company.

So although advertising is a part of marketing, marketing is also a part of advertising, and mixed up in there is branding as well. To market a product you need to advertise it, but the advertisement needs to include some aspects of marketing to be effective. Branding on the other hand is how a company or product is recognized. It also utilizes marketing, but is used in advertising. Branding is simply establishing something unique or exceptional about a product or company.

Branding recognition is accomplished many times by a logo such as the McDonald’s arches or the Nike swoosh. You know when you see them what to expect. In the case of McDonald’s, you think of one of their sandwiches or meals. This instant recognition is what you want, but in some cases it has been taken to far and refers to any product of that kind. To sight an example Kleenex has lost their branding because many people refer to all facial tissues as Kleenex.

Marketing and advertising are the means by which we get branding to work for us, but that is not their only function and certainly not their main function. Their main function is to promote a product or service to potential customers. How this is done is where the problems begins. First off you need to grab the potential customer’s attention. This is done in a variety of ways. Using artwork or having a catchy headline are two ways to accomplish this.

Once you have grabbed their attention, you need to keep it by telling them how they will benefit by using your product or service. This is best done by helping them to envision themselves benefiting from whatever it is you’re selling. One way is to tell a story, another way is to give examples and yet another way is to list the benefits descriptively.

I have been studying marketing, advertising and branding for more than 20 years and I’m still learning. For you to learn more you will need to study more and test the ads and other marketing pieces you come up with to see how well they work. The best advice I can give you is to keep trying, because you will never have 100% success. Just when you think you have it down you will come up with a marketing piece that bombs.