What is Marketing, and How Does it Work?

Alibaba.com JANUARY 17, 202411 MIN READ
What is Marketing, and How Does it Work?

As a B2B e-commerce seller, marketing is a vital part of the success of your online business. However, very few business owners understand what marketing is and how it works.

In this article, you will learn about the definition of marketing, its benefits, and its types and get answers to frequently asked questions.

At the end of this article, you will be able to create an effective marketing strategy to grow your business and increase profitability.

What is Marketing?

Marketing is a collection of processes and activities that help you attract your ideal customers and sell and deliver value to customers.

It's a broad discipline that involves research to understand customer behavior and markets, product distribution, promotion, advertising, public relations, communication, analytics tracking and other activities.

What is Marketing in Business?

Marketing in business is as strategic planning, market research, advertising, public relations, and various other components organizations deploy to connect with their target audiences and create mutually beneficial relationships.

It's a process that starts with product concept, goes through acquisition, till conversion, and drives customer loyalty.

It's important to note that marketing is different from advertising. Marketing combines many activities towards achieving business objectives. In contrast, advertising is a smaller activity within marketing that focuses on communicating the product value to the target audience.

How Does Marketing Work?

Consider this scenario for an e-commerce seller looking to provide a revolutionary gadget to a specific audience. New and revolutionary gadgets make people's lives easier.

The first step in the marketing process involves research to understand your target audience – who needs your gadget the most?

Let's say it's busy professionals. Your research helps you understand the pains, where these target audiences are online, the words they use to describe their challenges and other relevant information.

Next, you use all the information gathered from research to create compelling messages. This message will highlight benefits like how your gadget saves time and boosts productivity.

You Will utilize various channels identified, from research to gathering spots for your ideal customers, to deliver this message.

These platforms can include social media, email, and advertising platforms like Google Ads to reach your audience where they spend their time.

Through these efforts, you build awareness, interest, and desire for your gadget. As a result, potential customers become buyers, and your gadget gains a share in the market.

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Benefits of Marketing

Implementing a well-planned marketing plan helps businesses build trust, increase ROI, attract quality leads and improve other business processes.

Building Trust

One of the critical aspects of marketing is communicating brand value to customers.

Not only does this activity increase the perception and clarity of what the product offers, but it also builds trust.

When the messaging, product experience, and processes align with messaging, it helps consumers connect with your brand and makes it easier for them to trust your message.

Attract Quality Leads

Marketing enables you to target the right audience for your business with precision. With your messaging reaching the ideal customers where they are and addressing their pain points, you attract them easily.

Instead of getting people who don't need or understand your product, you attract ready-to-buy leads. Attracting quality leads to a shorter sales cycle and better marketing performance.

Increased Brand Awareness

A well-rounded marketing strategy incorporating traditional methods, advertising, social media, content creation, SEO, PR, events, and consistent branding efforts can significantly contribute to increased brand awareness.

Combining these activities creates a cohesive and memorable presence with the target audience that keeps you at the top of their minds.

Improve Other Business Processes

Marketing helps you gather data and experiment with different product features and offers.

For example, when you create a storefront on Alibaba.com, you can access analytics, identify traffic sources and hot-selling products and get customer feedback.

The data helps you refine your other processes like customer service, packaging, messaging, product description and more.

What are the 4 P’s of Marketing

The 4 P’s of marketing, also known as the marketing mix, is a terminology popularized by Neil. H. Borden 1in the 1950s and formally conceptualized in 1960 by E. Jerome McCarthy 2.

The theory explains the set of fundamental elements that businesses consider when developing and implementing marketing strategies. These elements include product, price, place, and promotions, which make up the popular 4 P’s of marketing.

What are the 4 P’s of Marketing


This refers to the goods or services you offer to meet the needs of your target audience. In the product segment, you consider elements like design, branding, features and quality.

The product you offer must satisfy a demand gap in the market for an existing or new customer need. You must understand the product, its features, unique selling points and consider if it can be paired with another product, or standalone as a substitute.


This section focuses on the amount you will sell the product to the customer. In setting a price, you must consider elements like unit cost, marketing, distribution and other expenses. It's also essential to research the market to identify the price range and then compare it with yours.

This approach enables you to set realistic prices that your ideal customers can afford while still making profits.


This P focuses on how the product or service is delivered to the target market, which includes distribution channels, logistics and locations where customers can purchase your products.

You have to decide whether you will showcase your products online on e-commerce sites like Alibaba.com, offline or both. The decision will determine the marketing strategies and tactics you deploy


This P focuses on how you will communicate the product value and make the ideal customers aware. It involves creating an integrated marketing approach that involves different methods like advertising, guerilla marketing, PR, email, social media and more.

The preferred promotion method depends on your products, price, and place.

Types of Marketing Strategies

When marketing a product online, you can choose different strategies, such as digital marketing, email, content, social media, and influencer marketing.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is an umbrella tactic that houses a range of online promotional methods like content, email, social media, websites, search engines and apps.

The goal is to be visible to your customers in locations they frequent online or when they search for specific keywords. Digital marketing is effective in driving traffic, and quality leads to your business storefront.

Content Marketing

This inbound marketing strategy aims to educate, inform, delight, nurture and convert traffic into customers.

With content marketing, you position your business as the go-to source for valuable information that solves customers' pain points. In return, it helps you attract ideal customers and builds brand loyalty and sales.

Elements like blog posts, podcasts, ebooks, graphics for social media and videos are part of the content marketing approach.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing uses channels like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter), Pinterest and more to reach customers.

The method provides an avenue for creating more intimate relationships with your target audience. It's like having your ideal customer in the same community as yourself. The conversations are more engaging and exciting compared to blogs or other channels.

With an estimated 5.1 billion smartphone users by 2028 3 and six billion social media users by 2027 4, this method is effective in marketing to different buyer types.

Email Marketing

Email marketing also utilizes content to engage its audience. However, instead of using TikTok and other platforms, these messages are delivered to your target audience emails via specialized tools.

Email marketing is used to nurture a warm audience that's aware of your business from either buying a product or downloading a free offer. It also allows you to send informational, educational, commercial and other promotional content depending on the goal.

Primarily, all activities in email marketing aim at getting more customers to buy a product or take other profitable actions.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing involves partnering with individuals who have a significant following or influence to promote a brand or product. These influencers have built a community of loyal followers who trust their recommendations and see them as reliable voices in a particular industry.

Their star power and influence help them to impact the buying decisions of their audience, making it a valuable strategy for reaching a specific demographic.

How to Create a Marketing Plan

Now you know the benefits and types of marketing strategy, the next step is creating a plan. The plan will highlight all your activities, goals and expectations from your marketing campaign. Follow these steps to create one for your business.

How to Create a Marketing Plan

Identifying Business Goals

Business goals are specific areas you want to focus on in a period. Do you want more sales, traffic, or leads? It's essential to decide which one you want to enable you to create an effective strategy.

Understanding Your Target Audience

The effectiveness of your campaign depends significantly on how well you know the audience, their needs, expectations and challenges. This information plays a vital role in creating a strategy that speaks directly to your audience and generates sales.

Clearly Defining Your Marketing Strategies

When you understand your target audience, defining a marketing strategy is easy. The process involves analyzing the target audience data to identify where they are online and what they engage in.

For example, if your audience frequently uses Instagram, creating an email marketing strategy might be unproductive. Defining the right strategy enables you to get the benefits of marketing.

Setting Your Marketing Budget

This step involves allocating resources to different activities in your marketing strategy. These include budgets for tool subscriptions, paid advertising, influencers, designs, publications, and distribution. Setting a budget helps you track your investment and measure the effectiveness of your efforts.


How do you define marketing?

Marketing is the process of getting people interested in your company's product or service. This happens through market research, analysis, and understanding your ideal customer's interests. Marketing pertains to all aspects of a business, including product development, distribution methods, sales, and advertising.

What does marketing do?

Marketing helps you to communicate your product's offer in a way that resonates with your target audience, leading to profitable results.

What are the 4 basics of marketing?

These four basic marketing principles, Product, Price, Place, and Promotion, are interconnected and work together; hence, they are also known as Marketing Mix.

How do beginners do marketing?

Engage on social media through a variety of social media platforms. You can purchase advertising opportunities through sponsored posts or promote the brand's social media page to engage with the public. Social media also allows brands to interact with people directly rather than simply publishing information.

What are some effective marketing strategies for a new business?

Some effective strategies for a new business include utilizing social media advertising, implementing search engine optimization (SEO) on their website, and conducting email marketing campaigns. Additionally, network marketing or word-of-mouth referrals can also be powerful ways to draw in new customers.

How can I measure the success of a marketing campaign?

The success of a marketing campaign can be measured through various key performance indicators (KPIs) such as sales revenue, lead generation, click-through rates, conversion rates, and social media engagement. Other important metrics include customer retention rates and return on investment. In this digital age, most of these metrics can be tracked using various analytics tools.

Can marketing help in improving customer retention?

Yes, marketing can significantly help in improving customer retention. By using effective marketing strategies like personalized ads, loyalty programs, email marketing, and high-quality customer service, businesses can maintain their existing customer base, increase customer loyalty and encourage repeat purchases.


Marketing is an umbrella tactic that combines content, branding, research, public relations and more towards achieving a business objective.

Creating an effective marketing plan helps you to build trust and loyalty and increase ROI and brand awareness, especially when selling online with many competitors.

Alibaba.com is a premium eCommerce platform with over 140 million active customer bases and a suite of tools to market your business. You can create a digital storefront in a few clicks or take advantage of the advertising tools to increase exposure by over 120%.

Ready to improve your business visibility by up to 120%? Start selling on Alibaba.com today.

1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_H._Borden
2. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._Jerome_McCarthy
3. https://www.statista.com/forecasts/1143723/smartphone-users-in-the-world
4. https://www.statista.com/statistics/278414/number-of-worldwide-social-network-users/