I have always believed that when there are two opposing viewpoints, and they are primarily centered around belief systems, that the truth is usually somewhere in the middle. Such is the case, I believe with this debate. On one hand you have those who primarily see marketing as merely the promoting, and in most cases pushing, a certain product, concept, or value onto an unwilling, or at least unprepared, consumer. On the other hand you have those who describe marketing as merely the process through which value is created for a consumer by various means of communication.
Who is right?
Well, I am going to plant myself firmly on the fence here, at least for the moment. I can see both sides of the argument. As a consumer I feel that sometimes I am being told that I want, or at least should want, certain things:
- Beer commercials promote a lifestyle that appears on the surface to be exciting and glamorous, something, at least superficially, that I may want;
- Sports related shoe commercials seem to promise me that I will perform better if I wear their shoes;
- While diet products suggest that by merely consuming them I will lose weight, be more attractive to the opposite sex, and get that promotion I have been wanting.
All of these point me to a want, or need, that I may have not realized I had.
Now I will jump off the fence.
The problem here lies in what we perceive marketing to be. One of the myths in the recent epic of marketing suggests marketing is nothing more than promoting, or advertising a product.
Marketing, however, is not synonymous with Advertising.
It is a communication process; in effect, almost an educational process for both the consumer and the organization.
My ‘need', or want, to be a better athlete comes from within me. Nike is merely exploiting that desire.
Advertising is just one small piece of an entire process. To blame the whole marketing process for my ‘wanting’ to acquire a product or lifestyle, based on an advertisement, is ignoring the other processes involved in developing the whole concept.
Suggesting that my ‘needs’ are driven by advertising also takes personal responsibility out of the equation. I make the decision as to whether or not I am going to purchase the product, or pursue the lifestyle.
I am not forced by the advertising to do that. Nike, or any other organization, has simply done their homework, and determined that there is a desire for the image that their product represents.
James Stephenson is an IT and Business Consultant with over 25 year of experience.
His firm specializes in helping small to medium sized businesses use their information technology and business resources effectively.
He can be reached through his websites and blogs at: