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Advertising isn’t marketing

Advertising isn’t marketing

Regular readers may have noticed my thing for Seth Godin – a very clever writer and thinker on all things marketing, he’s my regular go-to guy. It’s been a few weeks since I last mentioned him… he’s been a little off my radar. And then just last week he sent a blog that perfectly chimes with my views on marketing and where it should be heading.

Three changes in marketing

  1. Advertising and marketing are no longer the same thing.
  2. The most valuable forms of marketing are consumed voluntarily.
  3. The network effect is the most powerful force in the world of ideas.

(The last assertion is based on the fact that culture changes everything about how we live our lives, and culture is driven by the network effect… society works because it’s something we do together.)

Just about every big organization ignores all three.


I love all three of these points, but for me the first is gold. A lot of people still see marketing as “just advertising”. That’s plain wrong and a dangerous mistake for companies to make. And as the relationship between consumers and producers continues to evolve, the similarities between marketing and advertising in fact become ever less so.

So, if marketing isn’t advertising – just what is it? Let’s try and answer that through a few different lenses.


  • Marketing is understanding and empathising with a customer’s world view
  • Marketing is about providing solutions to customers’ problems
  • Marketing is about the voice of the customer
  • Marketing is about the why
  • Marketing IS NOT about the mass… it is about the individual



  • Marketing is about moving past the research and reports and getting onto the sales floor or sitting in the call centre. It’s about becoming the customer.
  • Marketing is about honouring the customer value equation Value = (benefits – costs), giving value to customers and profit to the business by…
    1. Leveraging pricing
    2. Understanding the user journey and pain points for customers using your product, and fixing those to lower the customer cost
  • Marketing is accountability and measuring ROI


  • Marketing is connecting and communicating with your customer how and when the customer wants to
  • Marketing is authenticity, consistency and transparency across every channel and touch point
  • It’s about moments of truth
  • It’s being where the customer is when the customer needs you
  • It isn’t a campaign with a beginning and end… marketing is always on
  • It’s not about your company or brand. It is about your customer.
  • It’s not what your brand says, it is what your brand does.

And if you get all that right – marketing is solving customers’ problems, driving engagement, experience to deliver revenue.


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