You’re no doubt aware that marketing is about creating something that people want and convincing them to buy it from you. But in small business, do we take too narrow a view of it?
Consider the ‘official’ definition of marketing as presented by the American Marketing Association: “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.”
It’s easy to understand the first part about creating and delivering value to customers. But take a look at the last part of the definition: it also includes doing things in a way that creates value for our partners and society in general.
This is a part of the equation that big businesses forgot over the years, as they selected suppliers based on the lowest possible price, regardless of how those suppliers had to slash their own margins or screw their own employees to do that.
They also closed local factories and went offshore to source ever-cheaper goods, and tried not to think about conditions in those factories. In terms of affordability, this was great for the customer: think about what you pay for clothes and electronic goods compared to 10 or even 20 years ago. But it was not so good for local suppliers, or workers in those factories.
When businesses realized the damage this approach caused to their reputation, they went down the path of corporate social responsibility, investing in ‘good works’ to restore their reputation.