Marketing is the most important activity every business must engage in because of its direct influence on sales and profitability. Every successful organization knows that its customers are the most important people for the organization. Understanding customers’ needs and desires and creating products or services that would fulfill these needs, remains the goal of successful organizations.
Marketing connects a business to its customers; it is responsible for identifying customers, satisfying and retaining them. Businesses become insolvent due to lack of customers’ retention and diminishing market shares. Large organizations have dedicated staffs and departments for the marketing activities of their businesses.
What is Marketing?
Marketing is a term in business for which many experts have given numerous definitions. The American Marketing Association (AMA), defines it as “a set of activities, set of institutions, and processes for creating, delivering, communicating, and exchanging offering that provides value for customers, partners, clients, and society at large.”
Result oriented marketing must always have the interest of the consumers at heart. It involves finding out and understanding the needs of the consumers and determining whether it is possible to satisfy those needs at the right place. In addition, it must provide answers to the questions below about the consumers.
Who they are?
What they do?
What they expect of your company?
How they buy?
When they buy?
What are their perceptions of your brand?
What are their views on your competitors’ brand?
Elements of Marketing
Marketing involves many activities that include advertising, product design, strategies, pricing and more. However, there are four vital elements that determine success and they represent the backbone of marketing. These four elements, otherwise known as “4Ps of marketing ”are as follows:
How useful is your product to the consumers in your target market? If you were a consumer, would you buy your product? Compared to similar products by your competitors, would you prefer yours to theirs? You need to develop the habit of assessing the usefulness of your products to your target market from an outsider perspective. The product you create must be something desired by the consumers in your target market.
The price is a very important element in marketing. You need to form the habit of assessing the price of your products or services in relation to what consumers feel appropriate or what other competitors are charging for similar products. How valuable is your product to consumers? Is it of great value compared to other competitors’products that consumers wouldn’t mind paying extra? You need to analyze the price customers are willing to pay. Lowering your price might reduce your profitability; however, increasing the price might result in lesser sales.
Where do you sell your products or services? The place you sell your product matters a lot if you want to maximize your marketing efforts. It is important you sell your products at places where both prospects and customers can easily and conveniently make a purchase. Where can consumers locate your products? Some companies use mail order, some use direct selling, some sell online. The more convenient it is for your target audience, the better.
How do you promote your products or services to the consumers in your target market? How best can you pass your marketing messages to your audience? When is the most appropriate time to promote? What medium is the most appropriate? Is it by advertising online, newsprint, words of mouth, fliers,on Radio, on TV? How do your competitors promote their products or services?
The Need for a Marketing Plan
Every business needs a marketing plan. Engaging in marketing without a plan is the same as constructing a building without a plan. A marketing plan provides direction to your marketing activities. It is a document that outlines how you intend reaching the consumers in your target market with your products or services. It helps your company to develop products or services that meet the needs of the consumers. It aligns your marketing goals and marketing strategy with the overall company vision and mission.
Make sure that your marketing plan covers the following aspects.
1. Set clear marketing objectives
It is important your marketing plan include your marketing objectives. These must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound.
2. Market Research
Market research is a systematic way of determining the viability of a new product or service through research with targeted consumers. It helps a company to get the opinion of consumers regarding a product or service if it is needed or not.
3. Target market
A well-documented marketing plan must include information about the most likely buyers of your product or service.
4. Competitive analysis
It is important that you know your competitors and how your products and services are different from theirs. In addition, knowing their prices, target markets, strengths and weaknesses would help you know how to always position your business to have a competitive edge.
How do your target markets perceive your company brand? The difference in how the target market perceives your brand vis-à-vis competition is your positioning.
6. Market strategy
A marketing plan without a marketing strategy makes your marketing activities inefficient and haphazard. A marketing strategy ensures that your products or services meet the needs of the consumers in your target market. In addition, it makes it easier for you develop a profitable long-term relationship with your customers.
It is important you have a budget each month for your marketing activities. You must always evaluate each of your marketing activities to determine the one with good returns on your investments.
Marketing is all about creating awareness of your business, and the advantages your products or services offers to consumers compared to your competitors. Marketing is the only activity that turns prospects into customers. Effective marketing is customer-centered, finding out their needs and exploring ways and avenues your business can satisfy those needs profitably.