Marketing is generally defined as a set of activities to create, communicate, and deliver goods and services of value to customers and partners. In a broad sense, its forces have molded the entire consumer society we live in, from the idea to buy something to the final choice we make. It is much more than advertising and selling; it represents the whole discipline and art of interpreting consumer preferences into items able to satisfy and even surpass them.
The performance and final outcomes of any endeavor depend primarily on marketing since it embraces the most critical market aspects. Whether a business provides the services of writing a thesis proposal or sells combined spare parts, marketing helps it to figure out the competitive nature of the industry, comprehend the niche trends, grasp the consumers’ preferences, reach them, and offer the best product timely and at the proper time and place.
The arrival of digital marketing in the world of rapid technological advancements has brought about new tools to make the efforts more targeted and efficient. Since it has also increased competitiveness in all the industries, relevant marketing skills aimed at getting even closer to the potential consumers are now required from all the employees. Today, it is much more than a separate marketing department; it forms the appropriate attitude of the whole staff. A favorable marketing-directed team can generate sufficient wealth by attracting and keeping customers, boosting sales, and elevating profits. Poor marketing strategies will definitely make the potential consumers turn their attention to the competitors.
The Functions of Marketing
Many businesses understand that knowing their target market and trying to meet their wants will keep them afloat. They do not actively advertise their goods or services but improve the existing ones and create something new from time to time. Such an approach is also known as “unconscious” marketing. While it may work on the initial stages of the company’s existence or in relatively small businesses, it is hardly sufficient if they plan to grow and expand.
A fitting and well-thought-out marketing strategy for the long term facilitates a lot of business processes, leading to success and prosperity. It helps to predict the possible changes and challenges, track and exploit the technological advancements, plan the activities in advance, define which ones are the best, and use them whenever and wherever they are more suitable, and ultimately, stand out among the competitors. Practical marketing will build on the business’s operations and decide on what to offer, what prices to set, how to inform the public about the offerings, and what mode of delivery to choose.
Such crucial questions are encompassed into a marketing mix that consists of traditional 4Ps, namely, Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. With time, the People element was added to make it 5Ps. However, as the business world became more extended and sophisticated, further development turned it into the 7Ps model to include Processes and Physical layout decisions, which is also known as the extended marketing mix.
Traditionally, a product is defined as anything offered by a company to address the customers’ needs. A very widely spread tactic is to produce something and then start looking for the market. Nevertheless, there is no guarantee that anyone would like to have it. A better way is to study the potential market first and only after this to come up with the right product, which is aimed at providing real value to the specific consumer, to fit their needs and desires.
Price is the amount of money that customers pay for the product, which defines what value they can get. Normally, the higher you charge, the more quality they expect. Prices must be reasonable since any product is worth only what the consumers are ready to pay.
The place element is all about the product’s distribution, which means making it accessible for the final user. Expressed in a different way, the producer should offer it in the right time, place, and quantity. It concerns everything: the exact places it will be sold, stored, displayed, and advertised at and the way of delivery to these locations.
The promotion aims at providing information about the product, boosting demand, and differentiating it from the competitors’ offerings. It concerns the way a business communicates with the market and the staff about the products and actions. There is a myriad of channels to promote the offerings and achieve the set objectives. But whatever you choose, the message must be appealing and consistent.
The people element considers both the target market and the employees. The workforce is the face of the business. They are the ones who create the first impression, which undoubtedly impacts customer satisfaction tremendously and builds the resultant brand’s reputation. Similarly, pleased customers are the best advertisement and promotion tool for anything a business has to offer.
While the final result of a purchased product matters, the customers’ satisfaction does not end there, especially in today’s realities of online business operations. Nowadays, people take into account the experience of the process as a whole, from the moment they decide to buy from you to the utilization of the purchase. Thus, it is essential to calculate every step and detail: the means and ways of promotion, the functionality of the website, the location, setting, and appearance of the store, the skills, and attitudes of the workers, waiting time, delivery, price, and quality of the product. The system in its totality should be accommodated to the customer’s benefit to ensure a positive experience and ultimate satisfaction.
7. Physical Evidence
This element is especially crucial for the new customers but should not be targeted at them specifically. It concerns the business’s appearance as a way to reassure the target market that you are the one to deal with. The physical layout may presuppose impressive buildings, clean and appropriately arranged reception area, showrooms or other premises, an accurate and functional website, or well-trained staff.
Marketing strategy is a detailed plan that encompasses all the crucial activities for any business: the specification of the target market, the investigation of their preferences, the analysis of any factors that may impact these preferences, the decisions concerning the 7Ps, and convincing the consumers to buy your goods or services. To be effective, this strategy must be well thought-out, realistic, and coordinated.
The first stage of formulating a marketing strategy is undertaking a marketing audit, which presupposes a detailed examination of the target market and all the defining political, economic, social, technological, cultural, and legal factors. The next move is to determine objectives and targets, consider the possible alternative options, and set the budget. After this, an action plan is specified, which is sure to be occasionally reviewed, revised, adjusted, and updated, depending on the possible changes in the business, market, and industry.
The business world is changing all the time under the influence of tremendous social and political shifts as well as technological advancements. Globalization has already made its enormous impact and still continues making its presence felt in all the possible spheres of life. Markets are becoming more sophisticated while offering little possibilities for growth. Environmental issues are putting more and more pressure on businesses in terms of their operations and responsibilities. Consequently, customers are getting more demanding each year, while marketing is forced to transform accordingly.
A few marketing trends have been specified so far:
- The focus on the collection, research, and utilization of more marketing information to make the interactions with customers more targeted.
- More attention to monitoring, evaluation, and measurement of performance.
- Investing in staff training and development.
Marketing is continually transforming, adapting, and adjusting to the changing realities. If it stops, it will not be able to address the critical issues of the businesses, failing to boost their competitiveness and profitability. Luckily, constantly evolving tools and techniques facilitate the process of development and overcoming possible challenges. A business that strives to survive and stand out, will always keep an eye on that.