Marketing 101 Simplified

 “Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.”
Milan Kundera

We might as well be speaking a different language. Say it and it’s like shouting “FIRE!” in a crowded theater. Some people get chills running up their spine. You can almost hear the music from the movie Psycho or Jaws playing in the background.

It’s as if I said, “That’s an elliptical oculus with a spayed lime-stone embrasure.”


At first blush, that sentence made no sense. But unpacking it –

  • Elliptical is something oval or maybe round.
  • An oculus is a glass or window.
  • To splay is to diverge in shape or position; become wider or more separated.
  • Limestone is something made out of, well, limestone. Kind of a brick.
  • Embrasure is a small opening in a parapet of a fortified building, typically splayed on the inside.

So an elliptical oculus with a spayed limestone embrasure is a small oval window with a separate brick inset. Personally I have a lot more use for marketing than that window, but you get the point. Rarely do we get anyone to help us understand marketing—quickly.

“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. (Approved July 2013)” – The American Marketing Association definition of marketing

“Marketing research is the function that links the consumer, customer, and public to the marketer through information—information used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; generate, refine, and evaluate marketing actions; monitor marketing performance; and improve understanding of marketing as a process. Marketing research specifies the information required to address these issues, designs the method for collecting information, manages and implements the data collection process, analyzes the results, and communicates the findings and their implications. (Approved October 2004)”

Wow. That’s not very helpful. Everybody likes to sound intelligent and academic (elliptical oculus), but I’m going to turn all that academia into something the rest of us can understand and use.

George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” That is a true epic fail to me.

For our purposes (and not the marketing research world at large), marketing research boils down to what I call Advertising Accounting—or better still—Advertising Bookkeeping. To oversimplify—find out who your customer is and put it in a spreadsheet or database. Or if you’re just starting, define who is your customer going to be—or who you think she will be.

I am not going to go deep into marketing theory, but I am giving you the top five ways to kick your advertising into overdrive no matter where you currently are. And it really is pretty easy. It doesn’t matter if you are old school direct mail, print media, radio, TV, or new school, Social Media Marketing (SMM). These principles need to be understood and applied.

If you want to dive deeper, I have a bibliography of books that I recommend on practical marketing and advertising at the end of this series. Even if you don’t want to dive deeper it will be at the end of the series. They all touch on different parts of the marketing/advertising basket.

These marketing principles are not the final word on marketing – it’s just a quick read on some basic principles that many don’t understand well or practice. If you’re a marketing guru, it’s not for you. Only 2% of the business world has a solid understanding of marketing and advertising. My hope is this gives you insight into what makes good advertising work so you can make more profit. That’s it. This is a work in progress. I hope to expand this considerably and eventually release it in a book form and sell it. But until then, you get the benefit of it.

If you’re good at what you do for a living, these five Laws—only when you apply them—will make you a much better profit. If you have trouble applying knowledge, read my book on Positive Accountability and use it to help you apply these Laws! (shameless commercial.)

Next Up: The List: How to Define and Refine Your AudienceRead Now

 “Good marketing makes the company look smart. Great marketing makes the customer feel smart.”

Joe Chernov