Marketing in Action

Learning Objectives

  • Recognize marketing activities in daily life
  • Explain the differences between marketing, advertising, branding, and sales

Marketing is all around you. Enter a store, walk down the street, visit the Internet, or glance through your closet. Whether you realize it or not, some aspect of marketing is likely at work in each of these activities.

In the following scenarios, consider the lengths to which marketers go to identify, satisfy, and retain you as a customer. See if you can draw examples from your own experience that demonstrate marketing in action.

Scenario #1: Life on the Streets

A storefront for Urban Outfitters. Near the front of the store are mannequins wearing the store's clothing. The inside of the store has industrial spotlights, a cement floor, aisles of clothing, and more mannequins.You’re walking down an urban street and, on impulse, you head into a trendy-looking clothing store. Right away, you pick out the obvious signs of marketing: shop signs, posters, window displays, sale notices, product displays, and brand names. Then come the less obvious, “environmental” things: the interior design, colors, aromas, the background music, announcer messages, the pricing structure, the way store clerks approach you–or leave you alone. All these details are part of a coordinated marketing strategy aimed at creating an ideal environment to separate you from your money. You may or may not be aware of how this is happening, but rest assured it is at work.

Scenario #2: Virtual Reality

Suppose you’re taking a short break from studying and doing a little online browsing—there’s news to read and Facebook to check. And you need to find a birthday present for your aunt . . . What kinds of marketing are ready to intrude?

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What jumps out at you immediately are the ads on the Web sites you visit: Facebook, Instagram, email, even your Google results. Annoyingly, you have trouble finding the X to close a pop-up banner ad that has taken over your screen. But that’s not all.

Before you’re allowed to navigate to an article you want to read, you’re invited to take a “very short” user feedback survey. Back to your aunt: you head to Amazon.com to read a couple of customer reviews of the book you have in mind for her. Amazon recommends several other books, and one looks ideal. You compare prices at other booksellers, but Amazon beats them, so you place your order. In the end, you find exactly what you want, and it will be shipped that day. Thank you, marketing!

Scenario #3: In My Room

Now imagine you’re back at home, hanging out in your room. How is “marketing” invading your personal space?

A room full of pop-culture-themed posters, books, and movies.

In the privacy of your own home, the presence of marketing might seem less obvious, but it’s definitely there. Pouring yourself a bowl of cereal, you see the back of the cereal box is inviting you to enter a sweepstakes contest. When you switch on the TV, a few ads slip by, even though you’re watching shows recorded on your DVR. Between programs, logos and messages from broadcasting networks tell you about other shows you don’t want to miss. As you’re becoming more attuned to the presence of advertising, you start to notice how all the characters in your favorite sitcom are drinking Pepsi products. Is that just a coincidence? Probably not.

You look at the clock and realize it’s time to change for work. Opening your closet, you notice the logos on your favorite shirts. Not only do you love how those clothes fit, but you recognize an emotional connection: those clothes–and brands–make you feel confident and attractive.  How’s that for invasive marketing?

Marketing Is Everywhere

The purpose of this course is not to start making you suspicious or even paranoid about the influence of marketing in your everyday life.

In fact, marketing can play an important and beneficial role by connecting you to information, people, and things. It can make you aware of things you care about but wouldn’t otherwise encounter. When marketing is working well, the new information it brings to you also aligns with what you’re already interested in doing or exploring.

At times, marketing might feel more like an assault than an assist. Visual images on posters or billboards scream for your attention. Sponsor announcements persistently remind you which organizations are making your entertainments possible. Sleek product designs beckon you to try on clothing or try out gadgets. Sales promotions create a sense of urgency to spend now or lose out.

The right balance between “helpful” and “annoying” varies, depending on who you are and what type of relationship you have with the entity doing the marketing. When the balance starts to get off-kilter, it’s a clue that something isn’t working as well as it should in the marketing strategy and execution.

Marketing Activities

Marketing encompasses all the activities described above. It covers an entire spectrum of techniques focused on identifying, satisfying, and retaining customers. For people new to the concept of marketing, it can be easy to confuse marketing with some of the powerful and visible tools that marketers use.

Marketing vs. Advertising

Advertising uses paid notices in different forms of media to draw public attention to a company, product, or message, usually for the purpose of selling products or services.[1] While advertising is a common and useful tool for marketing, it’s just one of many tactics marketers may use to achieve their goals.

Marketing vs. Branding

Branding is the process of “creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumer’s mind.” [2] Brand is a powerful tool for shaping perceptions about a company or product in order to attract and retain loyal customers. Marketing processes and activities build brands, and branding is an important strategic consideration in any marketing effort. At the same time, marketing refers to a broader scope of activity than just branding.

Marketing vs. Sales

Sales refers to the process of actually selling products or services, leading up to the point where the exchange of value takes place. Effective marketing aligns well with the sales process and leads to increased sales. While marketing and sales are intertwined, the scope of marketing is generally considered broader than just supporting sales. Marketing helps identify prospective customers and prepare them to enter the sales process as as informed, receptive, qualified sales leads.

This course will explore all these marketing activities in much more detail to give you a clear picture of how these tools can be employed to support an organization’s broader marketing goals.

Check Your Understanding

Answer the question(s) below to see how well you understand the topics covered in this outcome. This short quiz does not count toward your grade in the class, and you can retake it an unlimited number of times.

Use this quiz to check your understanding and decide whether to (1) study the previous section further or (2) move on to the next section.