What is marketing?

by: Bo McDonald

“Marketing” can be a pretty broad term. Try defining the word. I asked the chief executive of a mid-size credit union at the recent CUES CEO Network in Florida to do that. This CEO happened to have a better answer than I’ve heard from many tenured marketing professionals. “Everything and everyone in our organization is our marketing,” he quipped. “Are you going to quote me on that?” he asked. “Of course I am.” Hence, this article.

I pressed him to explain what he meant. He understood that every interaction that his staff had with potential and current members was part of his marketing.   And he realized that how their website looked; the appearance of the branches and even what people were saying about his credit union were all marketing.

An article on the American Express Small Business Open Forum had this to say about the subject: “Establishing a distinct company culture is one of the lowest-cost marketing initiatives for small businesses, and offers the highest returns.”

So often we focus on the big picture promotions, message and deliverable. That can lead us to overlook the small details that are often the most important (and least expensive) details of our marketing. What are the benefits of focusing on what some may see as insignificant? Big businesses (our banking friends) typically require a larger set of rules to keep running, instantly squashing any hope for a distinctive culture.

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