Basic Marketing Classes
I remember many of the lectures I received back in university on different marketing concepts and principles. Introductory marketing courses generally dealt with situations in existing markets for products.
In stable established markets, companies ceaselessly fought for marketshare. Think about how Coca Cola and Pepsi have fought over the soft drink market for the last century. The game was to take share from your competitors.
In growth markets, the objective shifted to growing faster than the marketplace was growing. If you can accomplish that it was likely that your company was growing faster than your competitors. Eventually, growth will taper off and you will be left fighting it out for marketshare.
Parallels between marketing and warfare
In the past, a lot of parallels were drawn between marketing and war. If you step back and listen to the terminology used you will hear words like: mission, strategy, tactics & campaigns. All of these terms are associated with military activities. Books like Sun Tzu's "Art of War" or Carl von Clausewitz's "On War" provided insights into the prevailing marketing thoughts of the time. For a more complete read on marketing warfare follow this link to Wikipedia.
Marketing in innovative times
Marketing approaches have changed towards market creation and generating consumer loyalty. Why fight over a market when you can build your own or make your marketshare more profitable? An excellent source for insights into marketing is Seth' Godin. He has a lot of interesting thoughts and observations on his blog (a must read for people interested in marketing or innovation.) Another good blog on this subject is Guy Kawasaki's.
Marketing and you
Many people view marketing with disdain. They think of all the direct mail and junk email that floods their inbox. They see the plethora of TV advertisements and messages that are shoved down their throats. As such, they dislike or distrust marketing in general.
But there is a practical side of this. One that applies to you. What are you doing when you are giving a presentation? Or looking for a job? Or trying to convince someone of something? You are essentially, marketing to them!
Take the example of designing a presentation. Your idea or message is the product you are trying to sell. Your presentation and conversational skills are your promotional tools. Face to face discussion is your distribution means ("place.") Product, promotion and place... these are all elements of the marketing mix! Your audience is, in truth, the target consumer.
I know that I have not gone very deep into marketing and all its nuances. However, what I am hoping is that you can take something from what I have said and apply it to your day-to-day activities. Perhaps, you can get a different perspective on things and use this to your advantage.