Here’s one definition for marketing that seems to work.
Marketing is about facilitating evangelism.
Make it easy for your product’s evangelists to evangelize, and you’re doing your job. I work on the corporate side for AdvoCare, a nutritional direct sales company (think Mary Kay, HerbaLife, Tupperware). We can’t sell a single product ourselves – only our independent Distributors can. So, the most I can do as a marketer is facilitate that process for these people who have a) said they like our product, and b) have told us they want to spread the word and sell the products. So we make websites, sales aids, DVDs, catalogs, magazines. We partner associations with sports figures like Drew Brees who use our products. We ellicit feedback from amazing doctors to make amazing products. We put on top-notch training conferences. We do whatever we can to facilitate evangelism. We try to streamline the process and see what happens.
But every company, when the day is done, should make that their goal. Every company relies on its biggest fans to do the selling, whether they want to admit it or not. Even your sales guys aren’t necessarily doing the selling – they’re just making it easier for the buyer to become a fan of your brand.
So, when you forget what marketing is, when you’re faced with a “marketing decision,” just ask if the action facilitates evangelism. If it does, then you’re marketing.
(Of course, the next question for most of us would probably be “Will this action spark more evanglesim than other actions we could choose from, but that’s another issue.)