Do you think of marketing as a function within your organization? Is it something to do with communicating your message to your customers to generate leads or awareness? Part of the sales process?
In today's world marketing is everything.
Michael Gerber (E-Myth Manager) hit it on the head when he defined marketing as "the promise you make to your customers and your company's ability to deliver on that promise".
This definition says marketing is the responsibility of your entire company. Not in a superficial manner like "we are all selling our product" or "everyone has an impact on our customers"; but deep in the core of how we think about business.
I think we all need to embrace this.
As Seth Godin has mentioned a great number of times in his blog, gone are the days when marketers could just buy ads and get us to buy their products via interruptions. We are too saturated now to notice. Your product or service needs to be remarkable (worth remarking about or a Purple Cow).
You have a product (or service). How you communicate and create awareness of your product and how you sell is it part of your brand. Your ability to deliver the product while consistently filling your promise is part of it. Your ability to deal with problems that come up along the way is part of it. The way you take payment and deal with suppliers is part of it. Your ability to generate references and word of mouth is part of it.
In essence, everything about your company is part of it.
Now all your customers have the ability to share their opinions about your product not just with their friends, but the entire planet. Your brand is what your customers say it is.
You don't hire a marketing company.
You are a marketing company; your marketing company.