Another definition of marketing


Back in September 2007, the UK’s Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) launched a discussion about a new definition of marketing. I wasn’t too taken with it at the time.

Now our colleagues in the US are at it too. The American Marketing Association (AMA) has just announced its new definition for 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.

They used to define it as:

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.

Unlike the CIM’s definition this new one is reasonably succinct. I like it for two main reasons:

  • it views marketing as about more than just something part of an organisation does – it’s breadth encompasses the wide range of activities that people undertake and approaches people use within the broad church that is marketing
  • like the CIM definition it articulates very clearly an outcome for what marketing does – create value. Plus this outcome covers the areas of marketing that aren’t concerned with profit, which used to be the focus of many previous definitions.

The other aspect that makes the AMA definition better than the CIM is the way it defines how marketing delivers the value outcome. The CIM definition argues marketing creates value by “stimulating, facilitating and fulfilling customer demand” while the AMA definition broadens things out by saying marketing is responsible for “creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings”.

I’m more comfortable with the latter approach as it recognises that marketing extends beyond the business of demand creation into broader outcomes for organisations beyond pure demand creation.

Interestingly the AMA reviews its definition every four years, recognising that marketing is evolving rapidly and so definitions need to keep pace.