I see myself as a marketing professional, something I’m proud to be. However for a word that’s so often used and just rolls of the tongue, I’m often amazed how little most people’s understanding is of what marketing is all about.
Often confused understandings of marketing reduce it to a shadow of what it really is. Most people I’ve met either think the word is interchangeable with sales, interchangeable with advertising or possibly promotion if they have a little knowledge, or at worst see it as a bunch of tricks and tactics such as those used in the jobs often advertised as sales and marketing, but are in reality just involve standing at a train station trying to flog American Express cards. I’ve even seen the question posed recently of “marketing or advertising – which is best for my business?”, as if they were two distinct entities rather than one being part of the other.
The 4 + 1 P’s of marketing.
At risk of being a marketing nerd, I’m still a big believer in marketing being at it’s core about the 4 or 5 P’s that are introduced in probably the first lecture in first year of any university (and probably TAFE) marketing course. The definition I’ve come up with, with apologies to many before me, is: Marketing is an analysis and implementation of strategies related to Product, Price, Place (distribution strategy) and Promotion, plus an added 5th one I like of “People”, with the aim of achieving company goals such as an increase in sales, market share or profitability.
Marketing is concerned with every step of the process from production of the product or service right through to when the consumer well, consumes it. A full discussion on the “4 P’s” / “5 P’s” / “31 P’s” or whatever is beyond the level of this blog post, but what it comes down to is that all elements of marketing need to be considered in order to achieve success.
“Marketing is concerned with every step of the process from production of the product or service right through to when the consumer well, consumes it.”
What about Promotion? Where does that fit into things?
Promotion is clearly a key element of marketing, and is concerned with how companies communicate with their customers. While not the only factor in a successful business, getting your promotional activities working for you across all areas of how your customer communication will go a long way towards building a strong business.
And Advertising? Is that important?
Remember that Advertising, while important, is one element of one of these 4/5 areas of marketing (Promotion). Beyond advertising, other promotional strategies can include Public Relations / Publicity, Sales Promotion, Personal Selling, and dare I say it, even Search Engine Optimisation and Social Media. Traditional advertising will always be important, but in a so called “Web 2.0″ world that is changing consumer behavior like never before, it’s important to ensure your business doesn’t become a one trick pony in it’s promotional strategies. Your advertising needs to be complemented by a variety of other promotional tactics. And while on that point, SEO will often be one of these tactics – but by itself it will also rarely be enough to build a great business.
Equality important are things like pricing strategy (cost leader vs premium pricing etc) and how this influences the market, how you distribute your product (through wholesale, online, company owned stores, retail outlets and if so what type etc), what products out of your range you choose to promote, manufacture or stock etc. And the “People” part of marketing I relate to the sales process – how the people within your organisation operate, build relationships, serve customers, and implement sales strategies.
So what’s most important to focus on?
Obviously there is quite a bit to this, so don’t just jump in feet first! Make sure you have a marketing plan before you start or get one if your business has already begun. It doesn’t need to be complex early on, but it will help you think things through and avoid a lot of wasted resources, wasted opportunities and heartache later.