Marketing

Marketing

Marketing information for online study; you can learn about marketing and related subjects, self-study and e-Learning courses about marketing.

Marketing

Marketing is a business term that experts have defined in dozens of different ways. In fact, even at company level people may perceive the term differently. Basically, it is a management process through which products and services move from concept to the customer. It includes identification of a product, determining demand, deciding on its price, and selecting distribution channels. It also includes developing and implementing a promotional strategy. Marketing explains that it's a bit more complicated than just promoting a product. Marketing involves researching the target audience, advising clients how to develop their products to suit consumer desires, determining product pricing structure, selecting effective channels through which to communicate with your customers, and developing and implementing promotional strategies. 

Marketing is everything. It involves everything about the way a business is run, which means everybody is a marketer. This is true, but it can be an unhelpful model when you’re trying to make sense of it from scratch.

Marketing is manipulation

Smoke and mirrors. It’s meant to mislead customers into buying things they wouldn’t otherwise, and into paying more, too. This can be true, but terms like manipulation and mislead have negative connotations, and that makes it hard to have a proper conversation about marketing.

Marketing is superficial

Bells and whistles

Pretty packaging, stylish websites and professional looking logos. It’s like the spray tan on a professional bodybuilder. (See: Spray Tan Fallacy).

Marketing is fear mongering

This means inventing problems where there aren’t any. Tapping into human fears, weakness, anxiety and vulnerability to make sales. See: Manipulation, above.

Marketing is advertising

You just need people to look at you. The more people look at you, the better. Good marketing, by this logic, is buying a Super Bowl ad. This typically gets the causality backwards – a great product earns lots of revenue, which is what pays for the ad. Buying expensive ads isn’t a solution to a weak product.

Marketing Orientation

The focus for the business is to reduce costs through mass production. A business orientated around production believes that the "economies of scale" generated by mass production will reduce costs and maximize profits. A production orientated business needs to avoid production efficiency processes which affect product design and quality. Compromising product design and quality for the sake of production is likely to reduce the product's appeal to customers.

Product Orientation

A product orientated company believes that its product's high quality and functional features make it a superior product. Such a company believes that if they have a superior product customers will automatically like it as well. The problem with this approach is that superiority alone does not sell products; superior products will not sell unless they satisfy consumer wants and needs.

Sales Orientation

A sales orientated company's focus is simple; make the product, and then sell it to the target market. This type of orientation involves the organization making what they think the customer needs or likes without relevant research. However as we know sales usually aren't this simple. An effective marketing strategy requires market and marketing research, prior to product development and finally an effective promotion strategy.

Market Orientation

A market orientated company puts the customer at the "heart" of the business; all activities in the organization are based around the customer. The customer is truly king!. A market orientated organization endeavors to understand customer needs and wants, then implements marketing strategy based on their market research; from product development through to product sales. Once sales have begun further research will be conducted to find out what consumers think about the product and whether product improvements are required. As markets continuously change, market research and product development is an ongoing process for a market orientation company.

Marketing Strategies

There are a number of educational models that are used to describe the entire marketing process.  The most commonly taught model is the Four Ps or the producer-oriented model.  The four Ps of marketing are described as:

Product

The product is either a tangible good or an intangible service that is seem to meet a specific customer need or demand. All products follow a logical product life cycle and it is vital for marketers to understand and plan for the various stages and their unique challenges. It is key to understand those problems that the product is attempting to solve. The benefits offered by the product and all its features need to be understood and the unique selling proposition of the product need to be studied. In addition, the potential buyers of the product need to be identified and understood.

Price

The cost component of the marketing strategy is usually dependent on the consumer’s willingness to pay, but it must also be considered in concert with the operating profit margins of the business as well as the long-term marketing strategy.  Marketing research is critical to identifying a price that consumers will pay while optimizing the return on investment.  Pricing competitiveness is also an immense concern.  Many price marketing strategies will introduce new products at diminished prices in order to build market share and brand visibility, and later increase prices once the product has established itself.

Place

This refers to the distribution method and determines availability to the target consumer.  Once again, marketing research plays a critical role in determining which venues are most likely to be frequented by target consumers. There are a number of distribution strategies that include intensive, selective, exclusive and franchising methods.  The placement component includes a number of factors like sales personnel, training, and franchising fees

Promotion

The marketing communication strategies and techniques all fall under the promotion heading. These may include advertising, sales promotions, special offers and public relations. Whatever the channel used, it is necessary for it to be suitable for the product, the price and the end user it is being marketed to. It is important to differentiate between marketing and promotion. Promotion is just the communication aspect of the entire marketing function.

Planning of Marketing

Second only to creating a stellar product or service, marketing is a crucial part of home business success. Without it, people can't learn about your business to buy from you. Without customers or clients, you don't have a business. A marketing plan is a comprehensive document that outlines a company’s overall marketing effort. It is a blueprint that outlines how a company will implement its marketing strategy, and use a combination of resources to achieve business objectives including sales targets or customer acquisition.

Due to the ever-changing environment and marketing tools that become available, the modern day marketing plan tends to be relatively short in nature, covering from one to a few years. A marketing plan is a business document outlining your marketing strategy and tactics. It's often focused on a specific period of time (i.e. over the next 12 months) and covers a variety of marketing-related details, such as costs, goals, and action steps. Many business owners create a marketing plan and then set it aside. However, your marketing plan is a road map providing you with direction toward reaching your business objectives. It needs to be referred to and assessed for results frequently. While some small business owners include their marketing plan as part of their overall business plan, because marketing is crucial to success, having a comprehensive, detailed marketing plan on its own is recommended. If you don't want to make a mini-plan as part of your business plan, you can attach your full marketing plan to the business plan as an appendix to the business plan. But like your business plan, a marketing plan is not a static document. It needs to change and evolve as your business grows, and as new and changing marketing trends develop.

Product Life Cycle

The product life cycle has 4 very clearly defined stages, each with its own characteristics that mean different things for business that are trying to manage the life cycle of their particular products.

Introduction Stage

The initial stage of a product’s life cycle, development, is when the product is first introduced to the market. Typically, sales are slow during this stage because consumers are unfamiliar with the new product. Sales are especially slow when the product is unique because consumers might not have an instant demand for it. But, there is generally low competition. During this stage, you might choose to increase your marketing efforts to raise awareness about the new product. You can promote the product on a budget through outlets like social media channels and your business website. You will need to explain the product in your marketing materials. Developing a product is expensive, so you might be desperate to make sales. Therefore, you will need to come up with a pricing strategy that fits your business.

Growth Stage

During the growth stage of the life cycle of a product, there is high demand for the product and a lot of sales. Though this is a really great stage for the product, there are some drawbacks. When you sell a product in its growth stage, your competition might begin to duplicate it. Competitors might release the same product you sell at a lower price, or they might work on making the product better. You might need to work on getting your customers to choose your product over the competition. This could require more marketing and lowering your prices. You might try to market to new customers.

Pricing Stage

Because of the competition, you might need to lower your prices and adopt a competitive pricing strategy. The growth stage is typically characterized by a strong growth in sales and profits, and because the company can start to benefit from economies of scale in production, the profit margins, as well as the overall amount of profit, will increase. This makes it possible for businesses to invest more money in the promotional activity to maximize the potential of this growth stage.

Maturity Stage

During the maturity stage, the product is established and the aim for the manufacturer is now to maintain the market share they have built up. This is probably the most competitive time for most products and businesses need to invest wisely in any marketing they undertake. They also need to consider any product modifications or improvements to the production process which might give them a competitive advantage.

Decline Stage

Eventually, the market for a product will start to shrink, and this is what’s known as the decline stage. This shrinkage could be due to the market becoming saturated (i.e. all the customers who will buy the product have already purchased it), or because the consumers are switching to a different type of product. While this decline may be inevitable, it may still be possible for companies to make some profit by switching to less-expensive production methods and cheaper markets.

Customer Focus

Get everyone involved

Every employee has an impact on customers, sure sales, marketing and customer service lead the daily interactions, but the non-customer facing staff can have a powerful impact.

Benchmark your current level of customer focus

There is a lot of talk about customer focus but how do you make such an abstract concept real? We think part of the answer is to measure and benchmark it.

Make it real

Define what “customer focuses” means in your business. Customer focus will mean different things in different businesses, it is important to get clear on what it is and what it means in terms of expected behaviors in your business.

Help employees connect their work with customers

In many large organizations employees can feel disconnected from customers. Leaders need to provide the tools and communication to help them connect their work with the bigger picture.

Recognize customer focused behavior

Individuals demonstrating the right customer focused behaviors need to be highlighted and recognized in a meaningful way. If employees believe they will be recognized they will be motivated to do things differently.