Introduction to Marketing Concepts
Read on to get a quick introduction to marketing: definitions, basic concepts, sales vs. marketing, marketing plans
Definition of marketing
Marketing is a buyer-oriented process involving the creation, communication, and delivery of value even as it strives to build and retain lifetime customer loyalty.
There are various standard definitions of marketing. While the words used may be different, it is obvious that all marketing activity is about the customer, focused at acquiring them and retaining them.
Marketing is a business function and set of processes involved in creating, delivering and communicating value to customers, followed by managing customer relationships, resulting in mutual benefit for the business and its stakeholders.
Marketing is also the science of selecting target markets via market analysis and segmentation, with a comprehensive knowledge of buying behaviour, aiming to provide the best customer value.
However, marketing is successful only when an organization’s mission, vision, tasks and ability to leverage technology align with and complement each other, and the business as a whole.
Although marketing viewed as an indicator of a firm’s success, it is a matter of perspective.
For example, brands like Toyota, Nissan and Nestle must rely on marketing to grow and keep their customer base. For regulated industries like utilities and medical care and small businesses with unique products, marketing may be low key and confined to flyers.
Basic Marketing Concept – Getting the competitive edge
Marketing provides businesses with a competitive edge, since that is what they need to do, to gain loyal customers.
Businesses achieve this by convincing potential customers that their product is the nearest thing that satisfies their needs and wants and do it consistently, with the result that the loyal customer starts buying from them without looking at the competition.
This is what all businesses dream of and achieving this is possible only with a solid marketing plan in place.
With the advent of the internet, there are several marketing channels available to businesses, besides traditional marketing. All of them focus on engaging the customer.
Types of Marketing
Traditional marketing involves offline channels such as face-to-face selling, print advertisements, direct mails, billboards, television and radio to grab the target market’s attention.
Digital marketing uses the internet to reach its markets via websites, social media, video sites, emails, mobile phones and apps and forums.
Social media marketing is a popular medium for businesses to connect with and engage their audiences and is an effective brand builder and market research tool. This works best when used in conjunction with other marketing strategies.
Mobile marketing. Considered the third screen, mobile is one of the main marketing channels today, what with consumers getting their information on the go.
No matter what route the marketer decides to take, two or more of the above will inevitably overlap to offer customers the best marketing experience since the goal is to reach customers where they are rather than wait for them to approach the business.
How marketing works
The first step in this process is establishing a marketing philosophy in place, where the business must perform a customer needs analysis to find ways to meet these needs.
It is important to remember that markets are dynamic, and keep changing.The concept of marketing has also evolved to keep pace with the needs of the market.
Evolution of Marketing Concepts
Here is a brief overview of the evolution of marketing concepts.
Production concept – an operations-based concept where the consumer expects products that are easily available and affordable.Here the business focuses on production efficiency, lowering costs and mass distribution. This concept works in developing economies where the need is more for the product than the features it offers.
Product concept – a consumer oriented concept where consumers expect products that are superior, high-performance and with unique features. This concept assumes that customers are likelier to be loyal when the product meets all their expectations and so, the business strives to offer innovative products consistently.
Selling concept– where the business believes that its products will sell only through active promotion and selling and the customer will not respond until pushed.In short, it is a matter of the business trying to sell what it makes rather than make products to meet the market’s needs.
Marketing concept – This concept is radical, compared to the above and focuses on the target market, its needs and wants and a desire to be better than the competition while delivering value to its market. Unlike the earlier concepts that rely on push marketing, it believes in pull marketing by creating brand loyalty.
While the sales concept is seller-oriented, the marketing concept is buyer-oriented.
A fifth concept has evolved today, the societal marketing concept – is the ideal situation where, along with the focus on the target market’s wants and needs and delivering better value than its competition, the business also strives to preserve the well-being of its target market and the society as a whole.This takes into consideration environmental and natural resource preservation and minimizing the carbon footprint.
Marketing vs Selling
We often use the terms marketing and selling synonymously. However, it is important to understand the differences between marketing and selling, for any marketing plan to be successful.
Simply stated, selling is product/seller-oriented and aims at market share and profit maximization. The business assumes that consumers are waiting for its products and once production is over, the sales force must sell everything using aggressive sales methods.
In contrast, the marketing approach is buyer-oriented. It encompasses a broader range of activities that include the entire process of:
- Market research to uncover customer needs,
- Product planning and development –to make products that meet and satisfy customer needs.
- Packaging, advertising and promotion – to create awareness and for brand-building
- Pricing and distribution –for long term revenue generation
In short, although the aim of marketing and sales is to increase revenue, marketing aims at creating value for the customer and sees the customer as the reason for its existence. This calls for a marketing plan based on the specific needs of the business.
The Marketing Plan
The marketing plan is the blueprint for the firm’s success and will include:
- An executive summary to highlight what the marketing plan hopes to achieve with strategies it plans to use, budget requirements and a system for measuring results.
- An overview of the business with a description of its services and products and their USPs. This includes indirect and direct competition analysis, SWOT analysis describing product/service mix, pricing, location and positioning.
- Target market identification, potential customers and marketing territory with customer demographics and all relevant information, market segmentation to enable the business customize its marketing strategy,
- Marketing goals including sales and market share anticipated for the next three years.
- Marketing strategies for product/service mix, pricing, promotion, location and positioning.
- Action plan for implementation of each marketing strategy with detailed descriptions, timelines and identifying those accountable for achieving them.
- Budget and sales forecasts with expense budget for task implementation with sales forecast figures expected from the marketing plan with rationale.
- Monitoring and evaluation of results with criteria for success of the marketing plan and how its success will be measured to identify what is working so that changes can be made to meet desired goals.
- Any other information relevant to the marketing plan.
Of course, marketing plans are far more detailed than this bare outline and are structured taking into account their impact on the business, the risks involved and other specific aspects of the business.
Sample marketing plan template
To get a better idea of the plan format and the details that go into it, download this sample marketing plan template –> link
Marketing is much more than just promoting and selling products to a target market. It focuses on expanding the customer base.The more information a business has, the more successful its marketing and its business is likely to be.
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