A few weeks ago I asked for some help in whipping up a definition of marketing. What ensued was a good online brainstorm. That discussion helped me formulate this working definition of marketing, which I used for my MSI talk (a copy of which will be posted here soon):
identifying desirable experiences, then delivering them
It's not a bad definition, but not as good as the one I found recently at the HBS Marketing Unit department page:
Marketers concern themselves with acquiring and retaining customers, who are the lifeblood of an organization. They attract customers by learning about potential needs, helping to develop products that customers want, creating awareness, and communicating benefits; they retain them by ensuring that they get good value, appropriate service, and a stream of future products. The marketing function not only communicates to the customer, but also communicates the needs of the customer to the company. In addition, it arranges and monitors the distribution of products and/or services from company to customer.
I think that's it. Should have started there.