Do we really need a new definition of "marketing"

In 2008 the American Marketing Association introduced a new definition for marketing. I found it in an article listed by BtoB Magazine in their 20 most popular stories of 2009. Intrigued and curious I wanted to know what I was missing. Afterall, in my role as an instructor with Pragmatic Institute I’m teaching product marketing managers and product managers. Anything new in the marketing arena I should be keeping up with. Here is AMA’s new definition of marketing:

“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.”

It will be used as the official definition of marketing in books and taught in university lecture halls nationwide, according to the AMA.

It read to me like the enterprise-class, mission-critical, scalable, state-of-the-art, easy-to-use, jargon that is often used in technology marketing. I imagined the series of endless conference calls and wrangling that led to the final wording, but also wondered “What problem was the AMA trying to solve with a new definition of marketing?”. Perhaps it had become outdated or stuffy. Could it be that the organization that should be the premier advocate for a market-driven approach were operating in an inside-out manner?

I read further and found AMA’s previous definition of marketing:

“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.”

It is, after all, three words shorter. I guess that’s good. At the end of the day I’m not sure that most of us would really notice much of a difference between the two definitions.

I think I’ll stick with Drucker:

“There will always, one can assume, be need for some selling. But the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous. The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.

—Peter Drucker

David Daniels

David Daniels


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