"I think it's a stretch to say that "marketing might think of its task as resolving the conflicting needs and interests of stakeholders.." That's the responsibility of the chairman and the CEO (or, in a multidivisional company, the division general manager). Attempts by marketing people to claim such a broad scope would disperse efforts and by perceived by many as a territorial grab."
This new definition of marketing originally came from John Moore at OurHouse. What I liked about the definition is that it didn't stop at the customer but considered everyone -- internally and externally -- who has a role furthering the success of the brand. However, David has a point... is this overextending marketing's reach?
I started thinking further about this definition after a strategy meeting yesterday with the Patient Education division of a large non-profit agency. We made a list of all their stakeholders including sponsors, doctors, nurses, patients, caregivers/relatives and affiliates/volunteers. 7 groups of stakeholders, all essential to the project. John's definition of marketing doesn't apply here; there aren't any 'conflicting needs and interests' to resolve. Our client's challenge is to enable and facilitate communication between all the stakeholders. I think this is the key challenge for for-profit companies as well... by understanding the needs of customers, marketing can enable departments within a corporation to have meaningful dialogue with customers.
So here's my vote for the new definition for marketing: Enabling and facilitating communication between all stakeholders of an organization. What are your thoughts?
UPDATE: After I posted this, I realized that this definition applies to Marketing Communication, but leaves out other marketing functions like pricing. Need to think on this a bit more... input welcome!