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Understanding the real purpose of marketing can help you attract, inform, and convert customers.

As a business person, you’re familiar with the definition of marketing – or we might call them the many definitions of marketing. Some might say that marketing supports sales, that it is geared toward bringing revenue into a company, and so on. But these definitions are quite restrictive, focusing only on the outcome of marketing endeavors. 

According to one source:

“Marketing refers to all activities a company does to promote and sell products or services to businesses and consumers. [...] At its core, marketing seeks to take a product or service, identify its ideal customers, and draw the customers' attention to the product or service available.”

That’s a much better definition, but it leaves out something important: the purpose of marketing. In this article, we’ll talk about the three popular goals of marketing – attract, inform, and convert – and add two more that are vital to success: understand and nourish.

Table of Contents:

How to Choose an Inbound Marketing Agency


Marketing and the Customer

Marketers use a variety of tools to reach their audience. Regardless of the tool, technique, or channel, the desired outcome follows this sequence of events:

  • Attract: Raise awareness about the company or its product/service. This includes building a brand identity.
  • Inform:  Educate the audience about a need or problem that the company can fix.
  • Convert: Persuade the audience to do business with the company.

We may think of this as a linear process – the customer notices the company, learns about its solutions, and makes a purchase. But properly speaking, this is a cycle: existing customers must also complete these steps regularly; they too are strongly impacted by marketing activities.

Marketing and the Company

Common wisdom states that marketing and sales work together to bring revenue into the company. This is true, but it’s only part of the impact that marketing has on the entire organization.

Along with customer service, sales and marketing are on the front lines of interacting with actual users and buyers. And marketing arguably keeps the closest watch on trends and market/industry conditions. So, not only does marketing work with sales to keep the company going, but it can also provide valuable input to product, research, and other development areas.

The Real Purpose of Marketing

Given that marketing has a broad set of responsibilities and a close relationship with the target audience, the standard attract-inform-convert process doesn’t really cover the true purpose of marketing. We’d add two key goals to the beginning and end of that list:

  • Understand Your Personas: Personas are fictional representations and attributes of your best customers. This should come before raising awareness. Why? Because understanding your personas (audience) is crucial at every step in the process: creating appealing offers, developing relevant content, anticipating customer needs and reactions, and even determining new features (options, packages, offerings, etc.) all depend on how well you understand your audience.
  • Nourish: As mentioned above, marketing encompasses interactions with current customers. Although no marketer would ever forget this, it’s often overlooked in discussions on the purpose of marketing.

Today’s marketers realize that successful marketing is customer-centric; it looks for the intersection between their audience’s needs and their business’ offerings. This guides the methods ultimately chosen to reach the goals of attract, inform, and convert.

Understanding the Type of Marketing You Need

Even though the purpose of marketing and its goals are fairly uniform, there are several different types of marketing approaches. How do you know which one to use in a given situation? In the next article, we’ll answer this question and provide an overview of the different types of marketing currently available.

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How to Choose an Inbound Marketing Agency