There are lots of well-crafted, wide-ranging, all-inclusive marketing definitions.

A sampling:

  • American Marketing Association (AMA): "Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational goals."

  • World Marketing Association (WMA): “Marketing is the core business philosophy which directs the processes of identifying and fulfilling the needs of individuals and organizations through exchanges which create superior value for all parties.”

  • Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIMU) [United Kingdom]: “Marketing is the management process for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”

A critic might note the wordiness of these definitions and, perhaps, also their apparent political correctness in attempting to cover so much ground. The sparseness of references to profitability is especially noteworthy. (A cynical critic might also suspect that these are classic committee-created definitions, meant to satisfy a wide range of constituencies and viewpoints!)

Perhaps these definitions are so complex because they try to simultaneously define marketing as well as identify how marketing is executed.

Can the essence of marketing be captured in only a few well-chosen words? My personal favorite marketing definition is this:

Marketing means solving customers' problems profitably.

The virtues of this six-word marketing definition include the following:

  • Conciseness: It's only six words. Well, it's four words of content after the obligatory “marketing means” preface to ensure that this definition is a technically complete sentence. (Feel free to substitute “marketing is” for “marketing means,” if you prefer.)

  • Clarity: Everyone can understand this definition, not just marketers.

  • Inclusivity: It works for large or small business-to-business, service, and consumer companies worldwide. For non-profits, “profitability” might need to be replaced by “efficiently and effectively” or “purposively” to indicate the goal-seeking nature of marketing.

  • Memorability: These six words are memorable. The AMA, WMA, and CIM definitions tax anyone not possessing a photographic memory.

There are powerful implicits in this six-word marketing definition.

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Randall G. Chapman, PhD is a consultant, educator, and author who assists clients with marketing strategy, marketing and business planning, marketing analysis and research, and supply chain management. He can be reached at