“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself." -Peter F. Drucker
Marketing is as simple as Drucker says it is -- know and understand first, then communicate. If the knowing and understanding are right,the customer sees himself in the product and will not need to be sold but will want to buy.
Marketing is not a tactic, not a trade show, or ad, or web site, or article. These things are tools used by marketing professionals to communicate the deeper message of your product, the meaning of your answer, the results customers should expect, or the solution they seek. If the knowing and understanding are not there then the tactics will fall flat.
Think New Coke.
So many people I talk to want to go straight to the tools and tactics. They want to know how to use Twitter, or should they blog, or should they go to this trade show. Marketing has been described by marketing people as a tactic for so long and so often they have forfeited their seat at the strategic planning table. It is just a tactic to be used, cynically in many cases, to lure people in. No value has been created from the customer's perspective so they try to make it up on the back end with slick 'marketing'.
When companies leave the strategy to the engineers, or to design or heaven help us, to the financial guys, you get a product in search of a customer. Maybe the customer shows up, maybe not.
Great marketing is both the foundation and the energy behind the growth of great products and great companies.