An Explanation of Marketing in Business

Image by Derek Abella © The Balance 2019 

Marketing is the process of interesting potential customers and clients in your products and/or services. The key word in this marketing definition is "process"; marketing involves researching, promoting, selling, and distributing your products or services.

It's a huge topic, which is why there are tomes written on marketing, and why you can take a four-year marketing degree. But essentially marketing involves everything you do to get your potential customers and your product or service together.

When you're putting together a marketing program for your business, concentrate on the basics, the four key components of any marketing plan: Products and Services, Promotion, Distribution, and Pricing.

The name of the game in marketing is attracting and retaining a growing base of satisfied customers. Creating and implementing a marketing plan will keep your marketing efforts focused and increase your sales.

Apple Inc. Marketing Success Story

Started from a garage in California's Los Altos in 1976, Apple Inc. became the first U.S. company to reach $2 trillion in market capitalization. With over 147,000 employees worldwide and $247.5 billion in revenue in 2020, if Apple was a country, its market capitalization would make it among the largest countries in the world by GDP.  

In addition to developing the Apple I and Apple II lines of personal computers starting in 1976, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs went on to develop a number of unique and innovative technology products, including the Mac computer, the iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and the Apple Watch. 

While Steve Jobs is considered a technical genius, he was also a brilliant marketer.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak once said that marketing was Jobs' greatest skill. He is recalled for his trademark "One More Thing..." joke that he often used in presentations, and his keynote introduction of the iPhone on the Macworld stage in 2007 is still regarded as one of the finest marketing performances ever.

Apple's 1984 Super Bowl ad for the launch of the Macintosh is widely considered to be the best Super Bowl commercial ever. The decision to proceed with the ad was highly controversial within Apple. The board of directors was not in favor of the ad, viewing it as costly and a slap in the face to competitor IBM. However, Jobs loved the ad and Apple was not able to sell off the last time slot that it had already purchased before the board began to dissent, and so the ad ran. Within the first 100 days after the Super Bowl airing, Apple recorded $155 million in sales of the Macintosh. 

Jobs had a passion for making innovative, beautifully designed products for the mass market

“I love it when you can bring really great design and simple capability to something that doesn’t cost much,” he once stated. “It was the original vision for Apple. That’s what we tried to do with the first Mac. That’s what we did with the iPod.” (Smithsonian Magazine) 

Beauty and simplicity became core brand values of Apple, but while many Apple products were very good at marketing themselves, Jobs recognized early on that he needed to integrate form, function, and great marketing to become really successful, and by doing so he propelled Apple into one of the world's most recognized consumer brands.

Even when Apple was not first out of the gate with a revolutionary new product, it was often the company that took an existing product, re-engineered it in a unique fashion, developed a brilliant marketing campaign, and made it into an enormous commercial success. The iPhone is such an example, which when released destroyed competitors such as Nokia and Blackberry within a few years.​

Apple's marketing success revolves around building and sustaining brand loyalty. Apple customers tend to be extremely loyal to the brand and many devoted Apple fans will purchase every new release of an Apple product. It is not uncommon for consumers to line up for hours or days for a new iPhone or other Apple product release. According to BankMyCell, Apple's iPhone led Samsung, LG, and all other smartphones in brand loyalty with a 74.6% trade-in rate in 2019. 

Apple is a consistent winner of awards for marketing excellence, including:

  • Apple Inc. “Get a Mac” Named the Most Successful Marketing Campaign of the year at the 2007 Annual Effie Awards. (The "Get a Mac" ad campaign was hugely successful for Apple, and they experienced 42% market share growth in its first year. The series portrayed a young, hip Mac owner versus a bumbling, nerdy-looking, decidedly uncool PC owner.) In 2010, Adweek declared "Get a Mac" to be the best advertising campaign of the decade.
  • The CMO Survey Award for Marketing Excellence overall winner for 12 consecutive years through 2020.
  • "Technology Brand of the Year" in 2013 by marketing research firm Harris Interactive.

Marketing Example: One of the maxims of marketing is that a profitable sales volume is more desirable than the maximum sales volume.