AMA's Proposed New Definition Of Marketing


Ama_logo The American Marketing Association is writing a new definition of "what is marketing."

AMA's 2004 Definition - "Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders."

AMA's 2007 Revised Definition - “Marketing is the activity, conducted by organizations and individuals, that operates through a set of institutions and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging market offerings that have value for customers, clients, marketers, and society at large.”

Two Questions

1. How do you define marketing?

2. What are your thoughts about the new AMA definition of marketing?

Update: Wanted ensure that it was clear that this is a proposed definition that has yet to be adopted by the AMA.


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Tracked on May 17, 2007 9:14:05 AM

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Tracked on May 23, 2007 5:45:15 PM


Seems a bit formal and institutionalized to me. I'm sure my feeble effort won't be viewed as descending from the oracle of wisdom, but here goes:

Marketing is identifying a market need, want, or opportunity; identifying a solution that adds value; positioning that offering within the market context; and effectively promoting that offering to the most appropriate audiences.

Posted by: Steve Woodruff on May 16, 2007 4:55:32 PM

1. Marketing is demonstrating to people that you have something they want, and helping them get it.

2. My main thought about the AMA definition is that itseems to have been drafted by a committee of about 300 people. I can't even tell what it means.

Posted by: David Brazeal on May 16, 2007 5:03:53 PM

All I know is that I like that they have taken out the,"benefit the organization and its stakeholders" part out. A good company does this not by making shareholder value one of their top objectives but by focusing on objectives more closely related to products/services and customers.

Posted by: Chris Wilson on May 16, 2007 5:10:09 PM

Nice find, and there are very strong points made in the comments.

I find it most remarkable (if predictable) that the AMA chooses to focus on institutions and processes. For them, it's all about the "professionals" retaining control of the how information is disseminated.

The definition doesn't seem to leave much wiggle room for the consumers themselves being agents of marketing through completely unplanned, uncertain, and unpredictable behaviors.

Posted by: Cam Beck on May 16, 2007 5:45:41 PM

I want to cry. Another revision?

I spent much of 2005 writing about the 2004 definition. It has problems, it is flawed, and we've not even had a chance to examine if it has features or benefits in any practical sense.

The new definition looks like a lawyer's disclaimer, not a call to action.

However, I welcome the return of the exchange concept. The Bagozzian marketing movement has reclaimed the definition! Unfurl the exchange flag and make with the short, medium and long term transactions.

To think the industry went 1954(?) to 1985 to 2004 and now is reupdating in 2007. Do definitions always have this sort of half life?

Posted by: Dr Stephen Dann on May 17, 2007 3:44:20 AM


The definition sounds like it was written by academics, which it probably was. I've given this about 5 seconds thought, but I would start here (make it simple whatever it it and speak in English not jargon):

Marketing listens to its customers wants and needs, and then communicates the value and the solutions to those wants and needs.

Posted by: Lewis Green on May 17, 2007 1:24:49 PM

I like Lewis' deninition a lot. Punchy, and shows marketing is focused on the customer.

The AMA definition makes me pass out in boredom after the first three words. It has the feel of being written by lawyers, not marketers.

Posted by: Vail Valley Marketing on May 17, 2007 7:46:52 PM

My goodness! Marketers (of all people) should be able to say something directly without getting bogged down by so many words.

I agree with most everyone's reactions to the definitions.

My simple mantra is, "Markting gets the right product to the right customer at a profit to the business (or, mutual value).

Posted by: Cynthia Holladay on May 18, 2007 1:09:22 AM

Very wordy proposal. I prefer the dictionary:

The total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.

That way I don't have to reinvent the wheel every two years.

Posted by: Geoff Livingston on May 18, 2007 10:44:48 AM

To work, marketing has to be short and to the point, which is why it's uncanny that the AMA would use such a convoluted definition. I like David's with this twist:

Marketing is showing people that you have what they need and helping them get it.

Posted by: Susan Martin on May 18, 2007 11:50:47 AM

Toby, THANK YOU for this post and amen to all your commenters. I think marketing is the means of getting people to buy what you're selling, fwiw.

Posted by: Katya Andresen on May 23, 2007 5:48:24 PM

Toby, thanks for posting this. What I love about the current definition from 2004 is that it recognizes marketing as both a process & function - marketing happens (re: creation-communication-delivery of value and the forming of stakeholder relationships) even in the absence of a formal marketing box on the organization chart. In other words, EVERYONE in the organization has an impact on marketing. (Of course, the marketer's role is to oversee the effective creation-communication-delivery of that value and ensure positive stakeholder relationships.) That's what I highlight when I teach marketing.

I agree with most of the comment thread that the new definition is dry and sounds like lawyer-speak. While the new definition does include a reference to society, it's not too much of a stretch to see social marketing in the current definition: the "organization" can be a nonprofit and "stakeholders" can include those who benefit from the nonprofit (society-at-large). I hope the Board will listen to the feedback that's been generated about this and either go back to the drawing board or stick with the 2004 definition.

Posted by: Sybil on Jun 5, 2007 12:51:40 PM

Definitions are always problematic: marketing is one of the fastest changing applied discipline, so it is very hard to define it. But I feel that this definition a little bit old: in these days marketing is not (just) about market offerings- it is about products, services AND value packages for customers.
Otherwise I prefer the "definition" by Kotler: How to create win and dominate markets!

Posted by: Balazs Balint on Jun 26, 2007 4:30:06 AM

The new definition looks like a lawyer's disclaimer, not a call to action.

Posted by: Echo on Jul 4, 2011 10:31:43 PM

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