This task of determining the appropriateness of marketing for a particular business or institution serves as a major justification for learning about marketing. Although marketing has clearly come of age during the decades of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, there is still a great deal of misunderstanding about the meaning and usefulness of marketing. For most of the global public, marketing is still equated with advertising and personal selling. While marketing is both of those, it is also much more.
The business community can attribute a partial explanation for this general lack of understanding about marketing to the uneven acceptance and adoption of marketing. Some businesses still exist in the dark ages when marketing was defined as "the sales department will sell whatever the plant produces". Others have advanced a bit further, in that they have a marketing officer and engage in market research, product development, promotion and have a long list of marketing activities. More and more businesses firmly believe that the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous, meaning that the marketer knows and understands the customer so well that the product or service is already what is wanted and sells itself. This does not mean that marketers ignore the engineering and production of the product or the importance of profits. It does suggest, however, that attention to customers—who they are and who they are going to be—is seen to be in the best long-term interest of the company. As a student interested in business, it is beneficial for you to have an accurate and complete comprehension of the role marketing can and should play in today's business world.
There are also several secondary reasons to study marketing. One we have already alluded to in our discussion on definitions: The application of marketing to more nonprofit and nonbusiness institutions is growing. Churches, museums, the United Way, the US Armed Forces, politicians, and others are hiring individuals with marketing expertise. This has opened up thousands of new job opportunities for those with a working knowledge of marketing.
Even if you are not getting a degree in marketing, knowing about marketing will pay off in a variety of careers. Consider the following individuals:
• Paul Moore, an engineer specializing in earth moving equipment, constantly works with product development and sales personnel in order to create superior products.
• Christy Wood, a certified public accountant (CPA), is a top tax specialist who spends much of her time maintaining customer relationships, and at least three days a month seeking new customers.
• Steve Jacobson, a systems analyst and expert programmer, understands that his skills must be used to find the right combination of hardware and software for every one of his customers.
• Doris Kelly, a personnel manager, must be skilled at finding, hiring, and training individuals to facilitate her organization's marketing efforts.
• Craig Roberts, an ex-Microsoft engineer, has recently started a dot-com company and is in the process of raising capital.
There are two final factors that justify the study of marketing for nearly every citizen. First of all, we are all consumers and active participants in the marketing network. Understanding the rudiments of marketing will make us better consumers, which in turn will force businesses to do their jobs better. Second, marketing has an impact on society as a whole. Concepts such as trade deficit, embargo, devaluation of a foreign currency, price fixing, deceptive advertising, and product safety take on a whole new meaning when we view them in a marketing context. This knowledge should make you a more enlightened citizen who understands what such social and political issues mean to you and to our society.
Marketing capsules (like the one below) summarize the information throughout this text.