First, this is not an academic look at the text book functions of marketing.  Rather, this is a practical view into many of the marketing functions that you’ll find across a typical business. These functions are real, and for the purposes of this blog, we’ll look at some of the highest common groupings that we think make sense.

First, lets get a few definitions down:

  • Func·tion: An activity or purpose natural to or intended for a person or thing.  (so basically an activity)
  • Marketing is defined as 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. (so basically to help sell stuff)

Lets pull these two together in a simpler way:  The primary function of marketing is to help a company sell stuff.

Now that we’ve established that most basic of basic functions, lets get into some more.

Marketing Strategy

  • This is where the BIG M marketing happens. You’re figuring out which markets to target, what your company does, which features the product needs, which price points to focus on, etc.  The net being that you’re setting the strategy for all other functions to operate against.

Branding & Messaging

  • As a category that also impacts all other marketing categories, branding and messaging are typically focused on the organization and it’s products. These functions are really all about bringing the strategy to life in visual, written or spoken ways – while making it appealing to the target audience.


  • I like to think about advertising as the promotional aspects of the brand or product. Where does media show up?  Which channels do you use for that media or message to get there?

Digital Marketing:

  • Digital marketing could easily fall as a sub-function of advertising.  That said, it’s large enough to stand on it’s own in my mind.  Digital is all about the art and science of bringing your message to your audience via online channels. Think pay-per-click advertising, website creation, social media management, and more.

Public Relations:

  • PR is all about controlling the message to the extent that it’s possible.  If marketing is developing the message, PR helps the company both distribute it and mitigate any deviations from the message in the market.

Then of course there are many marketing service types that you can and should account for. These are typically sub-functions of the functions mentioned above.  I’ll list some of them here, but we’ll go into more detail on another bog in the future.

  • Website development, creative Development, content marketing, social media marketing, graphic design, search engine marketing, media buying, copywriting, video production, animation, etc.

When you think about it, marketing really is a complex animal. Its not well understood by the masses, and it’s easy to get confused about what each function of marketing actually does.  I’ll continue writing on this topic in the future.