Marketing: What Is It and Why Do Companies Need It?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn more about marketing and the different strategies that companies use to gain a bigger audience. Discover which marketing strategy that fits your company’s needs.

[Featured image] A marketing team discusses marketing strategies.

Marketing is the process of attracting customers to your company to generate revenue.  A well-thought-out marketing strategy allows a company to research, promote, distribute products or services, and sell for a profit.

Marketing is a way to promote brand awareness and create leads, which can become sales. Several strategies include digital marketing, where a company markets through Instagram, Facebook, Google, and its website. To generate leads, the company may run quarterly campaigns on these channels.

There are also other marketing techniques, such as content marketing, referral programs, influencer marketing, hosting live events, and inbound and outbound marketing.

Read more: What Is Lead Generation? And How to Get Started

What is marketing?

You can think of marketing as everything you do to promote your business to get customers to purchase a good or service from you. The basis of marketing is understanding your target market, creating offers, and designing appealing experiences inspire customer loyalty.    

Because it's continuously trying to understand its customer base, marketing most often focuses on the study of consumer and market behavior. The purpose is to analyze how a business can attract, acquire, and keep customers by satisfying their wants and needs. Once marketers understand what those wants and needs, they can develop a range of marketing activities, such as publicity, advertising, building a social media presence, relationship building, merchandising, and securing distribution channels.  

Why do companies need marketing?

To gain customers and increase sales, you need marketing. Marketing is considering every step of delivering a product or service to a customer. The marketing mix includes:

  • Which products to sell

  • Which channels to sell on

  • Your price points

  • Promotion

A marketing strategy is specific to the needs of the product or service and the target audience. A good marketing strategy will help you with the following:

1. Inform consumers.

Consumers in a competitive market need to understand why they should choose your business over another. Marketing helps inform customers about what you do and how it solves a problem they have.

It’s important to set your brand apart from competitors to give customers what they want. Through marketing, provide details about your product, brand, mission, and values and how it will improve the customers’ lives. 

Read more: What Is Brand Equity? (+ How to Build It)

2. Engage consumers.

The idea of marketing is to be memorable to consumers after a transaction. You cultivate relationships with the people who have interacted with your business to turn first-time customers into long-term customers to sustain your business. 

An excellent place to start is social media. Social media followers are more likely to look at a  brand's website or app after following the brand for some time. Social media marketing lets you keep in touch with your clients by retargeting them after purchases and views with social media posts or stories. 

3. Build your brand's reputation.

A marketer should understand the value of reputation since it may impact whether a consumer reaches out to your business. Marketing can strengthen your company’s reputation since it spreads your mission and what you offer. 

4. Boost sales.

A product or service that isn't known tends to be more challenging to sell. You can use different marketing techniques to attract potential customers and expand your target market. Email marketing can be a great way to generate revenue by sending emails highlighting new releases and social media marketing to post updates about upcoming sales. Online listings can also help local consumers find you and can build awareness.

5. Grow your company.

Effective strategic marketing typically increases revenue for your business. A successful business educates customers, keeps them engaged, establishes a good reputation, and strategically sells to them. Marketing is a tool that helps most companies thrive by acquiring new customers.

Read more: What Is a CRM? And How Does it Help Businesses?

What is a marketing strategy?

A marketing strategy is a long-term proposal outlining the steps a marketing team will take to reach their goals. Think of it as a plan to follow, so objectives are aligned and steps are clear, allowing for the most effective marketing methods and practices to be implemented. 

There are a range of marketing strategies. Below, we'll go over traditional marketing and digital marketing strategies.

Traditional marketing strategies

Traditional marketing refers to offline marketing methods, including direct sales, television, radio, and mail. This option may still be suitable for some businesses and audiences.  

Print marketing

Advertising in newspapers, magazines, billboards and local publications are examples of print marketing.  You can make these ads to look very appealing and get the brand's message across to a target audience. 


Event marketing allows you to create advertising materials to showcase at industry events, such as seminars, conventions, and conferences. Creating booths and materials such as banners and signs can help attract attendees to learn more about your company and its products. 

To gain local attention, set up similar booths at other local events, such as fairs or festivals. Your brand can increase awareness and recognition by participating in sponsorships, like sporting events.

Telephone marketing

Telemarketing, also known as telephone marketing, is a way to sell products or services via the telephone. Businesses-to-business (B2B) and businesses-to-consumers (B2C) use cold calling or warm leads where a personal connection has been made and trust has been built. A telemarketing strategy allows you to interact with prospective customers and explain how your product can address their challenges. 

Digital marketing strategies

Your digital marketing strategy outlines how you will market your business online and through social media channels. This strategy will outline the online channels and marketing tactics you plan to use to promote your brand and will incorporate how much you plan to invest in each channel and tactic. Here are a few examples of digital marketing strategies:

Email marketing

Email marketing may yield a high return on investment (ROI). It keeps your customers informed about any upcoming promotions and more, by delivering value right to their inboxes. Email marketing is beneficial for its scalability because you can implement it on a large scale to target a larger audience.

Content marketing

Content marketing involves producing, creating, and disseminating content targeted at a specific market. The content could be videos, blog posts, social media posts, guest articles, or podcasts. 

Content marketing can convert visitors into loyal followers. Keeping your followers interested requires consistency. Consider planing your content in advance to achieve maximum results.

Social media marketing

A social media marketing strategy uses platforms like a company blog, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter to interact with customers, increase sales, and drive traffic to a website.

Influencer marketing 

Influencer marketing involves using people with a platform or audience to promote brand messaging. Influencer marketing relies on celebrities, content creators, advocates, and even employees to get the word out on behalf of the brand.

SEO marketing

An SEO marketing campaign targets users based on the specific keywords and phrases they used to search. An advantage of keyword marketing is connecting marketers to their target audience with the right advertisement at the right time. 

Read more: SEO Marketing: What It Is and How to Get Started

The Four Ps

The four Ps of marketing are an essential part of building an effective marketing strategy. They include product, price, place, and promotion, and they describe how marketing interacts with each stage of the business process. Let's review each one briefly.


If you have a product idea, consider conducting market research to see if your product aligns with your target market and their needs. Use these questions as a guide: 

  • Who are your target customers? 

  • Is this product-market-fit? 

  • What message will increase sales of a product? 

  • What platforms are you using? 

  • How can your product developers increase the likelihood of success of the product? 

  • Is there any hesitation or question focus groups have about the product?

Marketing answers these questions, helping businesses better understand the demand for the product and improve quality.

Read more: Market Analysis: What It Is and How to Conduct One


Your marketing research serves to inform your ideal customer's price. If your product or service is expensive for the market, you may lose customers. However, if you don’t charge enough, this may send messages about the quality of what you offer, so it’s important to gauge your ideal price point correctly. 


Marketing helps you know how and where to sell your products based on research and analysis. Consider whether e-commerce works better than a retail store or vice versa. An effective marketing strategy can help you identify the best locations for selling your products nationally or internationally.


The promotion process refers to any advertisement, event, or discount your marketing department creates to develop product awareness and interest to make sales. Public relations campaigns, advertising, and social media promotions can be used at this stage.

Read more: The 4 Ps of Marketing: What They Are and How to Use Them

What can a good marketing campaign do?

A marketing campaign is a roadmap to accomplish marketing goals. A well-planned marketing campaign helps:

1. Improve business performance 

2. Generate leads

3. Build brand awareness 

4. Boost sales


Careers in marketing

Pursuing a career in marketing can be a great way to combine your creativity and strategic thinking, help businesses achieve their goals, and use the latest technologies and tactics in this field. You can find job listings for a range of roles, such as marketing manager, social media marketer, digital marketing specialist, brand designer, and more.

Getting a degree in marketing or earning a certificate in a specific area of marketing may provide you with the skills you need to land a marketing job you love.

Here are some additional resources for exploring careers in marketing:

Build your marketing skills on Coursera

Develop or strengthen your marketing skills with any of these top-rated products on Coursera:

For an introductory course, start with Wharton's Introduction to Marketing. In approximately 10 hours, you’ll learn about the fundamentals of marketing, including how to develop a marketing strategy and how to communicate that strategy.

To prepare for a career in marketing, try Google's Digital Marketing and E-Commerce Professional Certificate, where you'll learn about email marketing and marketing analytics, among other topics, and get job-ready for an entry-level marketing role in less than six months.

To enhance your marketing skills, explore Meta's Marketing Analytics Professional Certificate, where you'll learn how to sort, clean, and visualize data that can inform key marketing strategies.

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