Marketing is often confused with promotion. Look through any online discussion forum where people are asking about marketing and the focus is all on promotion. How to get their name out there. SEO. Leveraging social media. MLM.
Promotion is indeed very important, but it's only one small aspect of what marketing really is.
In Marketing by Crane, Kerin, Hartley and Rudelius, marketing is defined as "An organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders". In other worlds, it isn't just promoting what you have, it's finding out what customers want, tailoring your offering to the target group of customers and then communicating to that group that you have a way of satisfying their wants. In this respect, the lines between marketing and strategy are somewhat blurred.
Marketers have many tools and theoretical models that are used when analyzing a company's offering. One of the most-used models is called the Marketing Mix, aka The 4 P's of Marketing. This breaks company's offering down into four components:
By looking at marketing in this more detailed, and more academic way, a company can have a better idea of how to meet the needs of its customers.