Marketing Guide: Definition, Marketing Mix, Best Practices
Everywhere around us, we can witness signs of marketing. From the small flyer being passed around on subway stations to the large, blinking LED screens in major streets and intersections. That is marketing at work. Even a simple conversation between two people can involve marketing. Did you see that musician holding a specific product in one of his music videos? That, too, is a form of marketing.
With this super in-depth article, we aim to gain a deeper understanding of what marketing is all about, and the best practices for successful marketing efforts.
WHAT IS MARKETING?
If we are going to use the official definition provided by The Chartered Institute of Marketing, marketing is “the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably”.
A simple definition of marketing refers to it as the action or business of buying, selling and promoting products, services or brands, including the act of advertising and conducting market research, as well as delivering the products to the consumers or the end users. When a company states its plans to build relationships with its customers through various activities, that is already a way of saying that the company’s marketing efforts are underway.
The core of marketing is getting a full understanding of what the customers want and what they need, then using that information to sell the right products. Ultimately, the goal of marketing is to match the products and services of a company to the end users who need them and, in the process, earn profits for the company. Through marketing, they will be able to put the right product in the right place, at the right time, and with the right price. We will understand this well when we touch on the 4 Ps of marketing.
Marketing vs. Selling
Often, marketing is thought to be the same as selling. To a certain extent, they may be similar, but they are actually two different things. According to Harvard Business School’s Theodore C. Levitt, selling is focused on the tricks, techniques and tactics employed in order to convince people to spend their money in buying the product. Marketing goes deeper than that, because it goes into the details of the exchange of cash and product. What drove the customers to spend their money? What interests them?
Selling concerns itself with getting the customers to pay for the product; marketing focuses on developing a demand for that product, leading the customers to part with their cash for it. Think of marketing as the big picture, and selling just a part of it. Marketing encompasses the product ideas and design, the brand itself, the communication of the product and the brand to the consumers, and even market research and consumer psychology.
To illustrate, let us look at the case of Apple and its products. If you think about it, the world really did not know that it needed the iPod. What Apple did through marketing is to stir interest for that product and create a demand for it. They created the product, and set prices for it, depending on the capability and preferences of the target customers.
The company then brought these products to its Apple stores and other places where Apple products are sold. Through market research, they have identified the areas where demand for their product is high, and established stores and outlets in those places. As for its promotional strategy, Apple employed as many channels as it could, starting with unveiling the products and their capabilities at tech events. It also spent a lot on internet advertising, as well as advertising on traditional media, such as print and broadcast.
Importance and Role of Marketing
When assessing the success factors of businesses, there is a strong probability of the list being very long. Ask marketers, however, and they will instantly claim that marketing is the lifeblood of a business, serving as the stimulus on whether it will be profitable or not. Other business-minded individuals will rarely dare to argue with this logic, considering how “business success” is closely connected with “profitability”.
Today, everything is marketed. Not just products, services, or brands. Even people are subject to marketing. Author, consultant and professor of marketing Philip Kotler, for example, pointed out how personalities such as Madonna, Aerosmith, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey and the Rolling Stones, are successful in large part because of very good marketing.
Learn more about how Steve Jobs thought about marketing Apple and how to fight competition.
It is possible that a business may have an excellent product, sell it in convenient and strategic locations, and still not be generating the expected profits. It won’t be surprising if after a short while, the business goes under or declares bankruptcy.
This is not a strange phenomenon. Many businesses fail, even if they have feasible offerings. Most of the time, the problem lies in the company’s marketing, or the lack of it.
Why is marketing important for businesses? Let us go over each one of them.
#1 Increase product, brand and company awareness.
The first step that businesses should take is to get the word out. How else would your target customers know about your company, and the products or services that you offer, if you do not make an effort to reach out to them and let them know?
To create awareness about your product or service, your business, or your brand, marketing strategies will come in handy.
Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer who is browsing the internet and checking her social media accounts. What would happen if her eyes fall on an ad on the side of the page, talking about a specific company that sells a service that she has been looking for? She will obviously be interested in knowing more about the service. If the company did not take the initiative to include internet or social media marketing in its marketing strategies, chances are that this customer would never have known about the company’s existence.
This also works even for existing customers. A customer may have been patronizing the products of a specific brand for a long time. However, the company still makes it a point to include its existing and loyal customers in its information campaigns on new products. Of course, the customer will feel more inclined to stay loyal to the company – and buy more of its products – with the knowledge that he is given priority when it comes to information about the company’s offerings.
#2 Increase sales and profit.
Once a potential customer is made aware of a product, there is a greater likelihood that she will check out the offerings of the company. If she likes what she is seeing, she will willingly part with some money to buy the product or service being offered.
This translates to more sales for the company and, consequently, more profit. The reason why marketers do what they do is to convince more people to spend money on a product or a brand. For most businesses, that is their endgame: to make profit. But they cannot rely entirely on the merits of the product or service to convince people to buy. Some marketing techniques have to be employed to give the potential buyers that push and shell out their hard-earned money.
When marketing strategies are employed consistently, word about the product or service will also spread, and so will the possibilities of increasing sales and profits.
#3 Improve company or business reputation.
Have you ever wondered why some businesses lasted for decades while others can barely go past the one or two-year mark? The most likely reason is the reputation of the company or the brand.
With the help of marketing, a company is better able to build its reputation among customers. It is not focused solely on building brand awareness and recognition, or improving product recall. It can also put the company in a better and more positive light, further inspiring loyalty from the buying public.
There is a perception that, as long as a company produces great products that are able to satisfy the needs and expectations of the customers, they will be able to build a good reputation. That is correct, but only to a certain extent. There is still a need to employ marketing techniques to ensure that the good reputation is solidified.
Companies’ marketing strategies that are geared towards improving a company’s reputation include active involvement in community programs, increased presence in civic activities, and continuous information campaigns.
#4 Foster healthy competition.
No matter how annoyed businesses can be with their competitors or rivals, it is a fact that competition is still good for business. It encourages businesses to do better and improve their offerings, and will keep them on their toes. However, there is healthy competition and there is unhealthy competition.
Unfortunately, marketing can be used in both cases. Some unscrupulous marketers employ underhanded marketing tactics to undermine the competition. However, when done right, marketing is a very effective tool for promoting healthy competition.
Through marketing, small businesses have a chance of entering a market that may have been dominated by one, two or three major players for a long time. Marketing levels the playing field, because it gives these small businesses a chance to fight for space in that market. The larger companies, on the other hand, will also use marketing to hold on to their status or spot in the market. This healthy competition will also be contributory to the growth of the businesses, and the industry as a whole.
Interested in learning how to market using Periscope? Read this!
MARKETING MIX AND ITS ELEMENTS
It was in 1953 when the term “marketing mix” was first used, and it was courtesy of Neil Borden, then president of the American Marketing Association. Marketing mix refers to the business tool used by marketers in determining a product or service being offered by a brand or a company.
Now, we cannot speak of marketing mix without touching on the 4 Ps, identified by E. Jerome McCarthy, and which have become almost canon among marketers as the “4 Ps of marketing” or more specifically, the “4 Ps of the marketing mix”.
The 4 Ps of the Marketing Mix
Marketing involves the identification, selection, and development of a product. This does not limit us to just products, because it also covers services provided by businesses. It even covers online businesses that offer online courses or digital products.
This answers the question: what are the goods or services that the business intends to sell, and get paid for? Is the product good, and worth spending money on? Once the product or service has been identified, you have to look beneath the surface.
Technical aspects of the product
- What are the features or specifications of the product you are going to sell? What are the sizes, colors, and other relevant specifications or characteristics?
- Which features of the product or service satisfy or meet the identified needs of the customer?
- What is the name of the product?
- Are there after-sales services and warranties attached to the product?
- What value does the customer expect from the product?
- What needs of the customer does the product or service satisfy?
- How will the customers use the product or service?
- Where will the customers be able to make use of the product or service?
- Is the product or service a good fit for the customer?
- What are the buying habits of the customers?
- Where are the customers located geographically?
- Can the product be marketed on its own, or can it be promoted along with another product?
- What differentiates the product from the one sold by your competitors?
- Are there products in the market that are similar to yours, enough for them to be treated as “substitutes” for your product?
- How will the branding of the product go?
The price of the product is also one of the elements that must be determined under marketing.
Value to the customer
- What is the perceived value of the product or service to the buyer?
- What is the level of price sensitivity of the customer? How much should you increase or decrease your product’s or service’s price before the customer’s decision on whether to buy or not changes.
- How much are the customers willing to pay for the product or service?
- What is the customers’ financial capability? It is one thing to be willing to pay this much, but can they actually afford to pay that amount?
- What are the price points for the product or service in the market? In the specific target market?
- How much is the product going to sell for?
- How much is the cost to the company? This will also help in determining how much the product would be sold for in order to make a profit.
- In considerations for the price, there are several methods applied to determine the selling price that will be assigned to the product. Usually, they include:
- Cost to buy the product, in case of businesses where the products are purchased and subsequently sold in their unchanged or unaltered form to customers.
- Cost to manufacture, including cost of direct and indirect materials, direct and indirect labor, and overhead.
- Expenses, including general, administrative and selling expenses, as well as distribution expenses and logistics costs.
- Marketing costs directly traceable to the product.
- Are there discounts that can be offered by the company to consumers? To commercial buyers or trade customers?
- What are the factors considered in setting the discounts?
- What impression will the price you set make on the minds of consumers? This is quite tricky, and will bring about a dilemma for both the sellers and the buyers. There are two possible scenarios involved.
- Scenario #1: Setting the price too high may give the impression that the product is of superior quality, and if that is the case, there are customers who will not mind paying a premium for it. However, the catch is that not all the customers may be financially capable of meeting the high price that was set.
- Scenario #2: Setting the price too low may give the impression that the product is of very low or inferior quality. As a result, most customers might opt out of buying, since they are looking for the best value for their money.
- At what price do your competitors sell their products?
- How is your price point compared to that of your competitors?
Look at the following pricing strategies you can use in your marketing efforts.
Place refers to the location of the end user of the product, and marketing also involves getting the product to the customer. Determination and selection of the best distribution channel to deliver or bring the product to the place of the customer is also another element of marketing.
The most common options include physical stores, online stores and third-party distributors. The considerations that must be noted are:
- How much can the company spend in its marketing efforts?
Location or access points
- Where will the customers generally look when they need the product or service?
- What are the kinds of access points or locations? If it is a physical store, what kind of a store will it be? Will it be located in a mall or a supermarket, or will it be in an exclusive boutique? If it will be sold online, will the company sell it in its own website, or will it enter into partnerships with online malls or stockists? If it is through direct selling, will they make use of a catalogue, or will they recruit selling staff for that specific purpose?
- What distribution channels are available to the company?
- How can the company access the right distribution channels? Will they have to attend trade fairs and tech events? Will there be a need to send samples to them?
- Will there be a need for a specialized sales force? If so, how many will be needed?
- How will the sales force be managed, and who will manage it?
- How will the members of the sales force be recruited?
- What steps do the competitors take in choosing the places where they will sell their products or services?
Finally, the last P pertains to the development and subsequent implementation of a promotional strategy to sell the product. We are talking here of the marketing campaign of the company that will be used to communicate to the target audience about the product. How will you make your target market aware of your product or service, and what they have to offer?
The most common promotional activities employed by businesses include:
- Advertising through traditional and non-traditional media
- Personal selling or direct marketing
- Sales promotions
- Public relations activities
- Guerilla marketing
When evaluating a promotional strategy for your product, you have to consider the following questions:
Your marketing message
- What marketing message do you want to convey to your target market?
Delivery of your marketing message
- Where can you put up or set up your marketing messages so they can reach your target market easily?
- When is the best time to get your marketing messages across to your target market?
- What are the promotional activities that are likely to enable you to reach your target audience?
- Which among the promotional activities will give you more reach to your target market?
- Which time of the year is best to carry out your promotional activities? Consider whether the market is subject to seasonality – if there are peak seasons or slow seasons for your product or service.
- What possible interventions or issues may affect the timing of your promotional activities?
- What are the promotional strategies of your competitors?
- How do your competitors’ promotional strategies affect yours?
The 4 Ps have been used for such a long time that it is almost institutionalized knowledge. However, there are several arguments against it, and one of the most pervasive ones is on how the 4 Ps are taken solely from the point of view of the seller or producer. This is true enough, and we cannot blame marketers and producers for taking this stance. They are in business, after all, and they want to make profit for themselves.
This argument gave rise to other schools of thought about the elements of the marketing mix, and one of them is the 4 Cs.
Take a short break and learn from Brian Tracy what he has learned about marketing strategy.
The 4 Cs of Marketing Mix
There is another approach formulated by University of North Carolina’s advertising professor Bob Lauterborn. He proposed the 4 Cs, aiming to replace the 4 Ps.
Unlike the 4 Ps, the 4 Cs takes the perspective of the consumer, who is considered to be at the heart of the whole process. It is their needs and wants that must be satisfied, it is their money that will be paid to the producers or sellers, and it is them that the businesses will try to communicate their value offerings to. It only makes sense, to see things from where these people stand. And that is where the 4 Cs come in.
Instead of the Product, the emphasis will be on the Consumer, specifically his wants and needs. This is under the assumption that a company cannot simply create products and sell them to the market, expecting the latter to buy them all up. The principle of “build it and they will come” may work, but only in very isolated cases. More often than not, more planning is required about the suitability of a product before it can be developed for the market.
Therefore, there is still a need for businesses to conduct a study on what their consumers’ wants and needs are. Once these have been identified, they can develop a product around this demand, so that they can offer the customers a product or service that they will definitely want to pay for.
Instead of Price, the emphasis is on the Cost to satisfy the need or wants of the consumers. By determining the cost, the selling price may also be determined. There are some businesses that operate under the assumption that, if they sell their product at the lowest price, they will be able to get ahead of the competition. Then the scenario would turn into one where businesses will try to beat others by bringing their price low, without minding the actual cost they incurred to satisfy the consumers. This is not good for the company’s bottomline and profitability.
We have already touched on the cost considerations that will help in the determination of a selling price that will bring in profits to the business.
More than just considering the place or location where the product or service will be sold, the 4Cs put more emphasis on convenience on the part of the consumers to buy the product or service. A place may have been identified, but will it be somewhere that customers can easily and conveniently go to in order to get their hands on the product or service?
These days, online shopping and web stores are becoming bigger, because they have hit on the area that more and more consumers are becoming concerned with: convenience. It is more convenient for them to shop or buy over the internet, since they do not have to travel or step out of the comfort of their own homes to procure the items they need. The payment options offered by these online stores are also more convenient, using credit cards and other automated forms of payment, because customers no longer have to carry around cash to pay for their purchases.
Instead of promotion, marketers pay more attention to communication. Purely promotion is seen as manipulative, since it emanates solely from the seller or developer of the product. Communication, on the other hand, denotes a two-way relationship, where information flows in a give-and-take manner between the seller and the buyer.
In order to accomplish this, businesses make it a point to make themselves accessible to their customers. Giving a business address and a telephone number is no longer enough. They make use of as much contact information as they have, such as web URLs, contact forms in their official websites, and email addresses.
Learn more about marketing from marketing guru Philip Kotler in this awesome speech.
Importance of the Marketing Mix
If you look at the 4 Ps of the marketing mix, or even the 4 Cs, you cannot pick only one or two as the most important elements. After all, all the elements affect and influence each other. All four are present in order for a profitable venture to take place.
Let us say that a business has succeeded, thanks to its marketing strategy. This business should not be complacent at the first sign of success. It must work harder in order to sustain that success, and achieve growth. Continuity of the success of the business is very important, which is where the marketing mix comes in.
- Marketing mix maximizes the continued success of business operations. Overall, businesses want their operations to continue smoothly and without any major snags. The product lifecycle will go on, uninterrupted, and the entire marketing process will accomplish what it was meant to achieve. The information afforded by the marketing mix allows the company to make the necessary adjustments in its 4 Ps when it realizes that something is working. A company may have been selling a product at a specific price at first, but thanks to using the marketing mix, it will be able to make the necessary adjustments once it realizes that the price is too high or too low to help maximize income. In response, the company can adjust its pricing accordingly.
- Marketing mix maximizes the returns earned by the company in the market. The right combination and execution of the 4 Ps will help ensure that the company earns profits, and that the profits are kept at the maximum level, given the circumstances.
- Marketing mix pushes a company to take responsibility for its claims on its products or services. In its advertisements and marketing campaigns, a business makes claims regarding the benefits that customers can obtain from their products or services. For a business to be successful, there must be a way to ensure that these claims are not just empty words. The company should be able to back up these claims, and the marketing mix will help them do just that.
TYPES OF MARKETING CHANNELS
There are several ways in which producers or manufacturers can bring their products and services to end users or consumers. Rather than just naming distribution channels or the physical locations where the products or services are made available to the customers, we need to talk about marketing channels, or the routes that these goods can take to reach the customers.
As per definition, a marketing channel is a set of activities or actions that are carried out to transfer the ownership of products and physically move them from production to consumption. Thus, it involves all the parties and activities involved from the time the product started undergoing production, all the way to when it is brought to the end user for consumption or usage.
The 4 types of marketing channels are discussed below:
1. Direct selling
This is when the product or service is directly marketed and sold to the consumer, away from the stores, or any retail location, of the business.
The traditional method of direct selling is peddling, where the seller will personally go to the buyer to peddle his goods. Fortunately, businesses are no longer stuck with that single option.
Today, sellers perform one-on-one or group demonstrations to the consumers, often through sales agents and representatives. They even go as far as contacting the potential customers personally in order to arrange a time and a place to meet, in order for them to market and sell the products.
Selling through the internet is another modern form of direct selling. Online stores send emails to potential customers, making their pitches and advertising their products. The customer will in the process learn more about the product, and make the decision on whether to buy or not.
Pros of Direct Selling:
- It offers convenience for customers. In some case, service benefits also come with the act of direct selling. Customers benefit from getting personal demonstrations from the sellers, and they can probe the sellers about the features of the products. Another service benefit in direct selling is that the products are brought to them instead of them going to the seller’s store to purchase the goods.
- It does not require a lot of capital. On the part of the sellers, they do not have to maintain inventory or make cash commitments in order to get started. In fact, a one-man enterprise can start a direct selling business, which means he can save from paying salaries and wages to others, especially when he is just starting out.
2. Indirect selling
This is what you call the process where selling is made through intermediaries or middlemen. An intermediary is essentially a go-between, a third-party that serves as a conduit between two parties in trade.
The most recognizable intermediaries in business today are wholesalers and retailers. A conventional setup would involve wholesales buying products in bulk from producers or manufacturers, and selling these goods – also in bulk – to retailers. Retailers will then sell these goods on a per-piece basis to the consumers.
Pros of indirect selling:
- Better coordination, in case of large orders or demands. In some cases, an agent will be acting in the interest of wholesalers, getting the goods from producers and bringing them to wholesalers. An agent is often required when the product is very much in demand, and more than a few retailers or stores have demand for it.
- It dispenses with the need for the company to maintain a large sales force, composed primarily of sales representatives.
- It broadens the company’s network, enabling it to have productive relationships with distributors and other intermediaries.
3. Dual distribution
In this marketing channel, the manufacturer or seller makes use of more than one type of marketing channel at the same time.
It is possible that a company may have sales representatives to conduct direct selling, but they also have their own sets of intermediaries helping out in the distribution of the products.
A classic example of dual distribution is franchising. A franchisor of a fast food chain, for example, operates its own units. That is direct selling. But the franchisor also licenses the operation of other units to franchisees, who are intermediaries.
The problem that most businesses have with dual distribution is the possibility of channel conflict taking place. There may be overlaps, where the direct selling efforts of the company may be hindering the actions of intermediaries, and vice versa. In the fast food franchise, for example, the franchisor’s units may be competing with that of the franchisees for market share and customers.
4. Reverse channels
This describes a scenario where the process begins from the consumer or end-user, and then to the intermediary, and finally to the beneficiary. Instead of a producer, we have a beneficiary or a user.
In this type of marketing channel, technology plays a very important role, allowing the reversal of the usual or typical flow of transactions. For example, a consumer may be reselling a product or recycling it, so he will sell the recycled product to the intermediary who will, in turn, sell it back to the beneficiary or user.
We can also classify marketing channels according to the players in the flow.
- Manufacturer to Consumer: You can say that this perfectly describes a straightforward direct selling process. The manufacturer makes the product, and sells them directly to the customer. There are no third parties or intermediaries involved. For instance, a manufacturer of children’s clothing will sell the clothes directly in its store. This is what happens in factory outlets belonging to manufacturers.
- Manufacturer to Retailer to Consumer: An indirect channel, the retailer will sell the products that she has purchased from the manufacturer or producer as merchandise to the consumer. In the previous example, a store or boutique that sells children’s apparel will go directly to the manufacturer to purchase the items, and then sell these items in their store.
- Manufacturer to Wholesaler to Consumer: In this case, a wholesaler may buy the items in bulk and sell them directly to the consumers instead of coursing it through a retailer. It is possible that a consumer like a day care center would like to purchase large amounts of children’s clothing. In this channel, they will not bother to visit a retailer and will instead go directly to the wholesaler.
- Manufacturer to Agent to Wholesaler to Retailer to Consumer: This may sound more complicated, because there are more parties involved. A middleman exists in this setup, in the person of the agent. The agent will coordinate the sale and assist the entire process, to take a load of the minds of both the seller and the buyer. In exchange for a commission from the manufacturer, the agent will actively look for potential wholesalers and connect them with the manufacturer. The agent will then bring the products to the wholesaler who, in turn, will sell them to the retailers, the final link to the consumers or end users.
Another classification of marketing channels shows the relationship between the business and its customers. There are two types:
- Business-to-Business distribution (B2B): This channel describes the relationship where a business will sell to another business. This is mostly seen in the manufacturing industry, where one company manufactures parts that will be used by another company in manufacturing another product. For example, a manufacturer of auto spare parts will sell to a car manufacturer.
- Business-to-Customer distribution (B2C): This describes the relationship between a business and the end user of a product. In the above example, the car manufacturer will sell the finished cars to the final customers.
An insightful youtube video on B2B marketing strategies.
BEST PRACTICES IN MARKETING
In marketing, marketers apply “different strokes”, formulating strategies depending on various factors, such as the type of product, the market the business is in, the core vision of the business, as well as constraints that businesses are subjected to. Let us look into the best practices in marketing that marketers agree are essential in making sure their marketing efforts work.
#1 Development of a solid marketing strategy.
A marketing strategy is not something that can be whipped up in a few minutes, created, and presented to management, ready for their approval and implementation. It takes a lot of work to develop a marketing strategy, both in the long and short-term.
Conduct of market research.
Some may think that conducting market research is too tedious and takes a lot of time. They want to jump right in and work with what little information they have. The problem with not doing market research is that there is a risk that you may miss some crucial factors when creating your marketing plan.
Understanding the market or the audience is vital for any marketing strategy to be able to get off the ground, and work. When conducting market research, get up close and personal with your subjects. Information obtained firsthand from the customers is more credible and reliable than information obtained in databases or third party sources.
Understanding the audience will also enable you to look at things from their perspective. It is not always easy for manufacturers and marketers to put themselves in the shoes of the customers or end users, but that is basically what needs to be done.
Take, for example, a company that sells products to different countries. There is a need to analyze all the data or information from these countries in order to come up with a marketing plan suited for multi-cultural and multi-national application. Sometimes after analysis, there is a need to come up with different approaches for different regions.
These are all under the assumption that the customer should always come first, in the formulation of a marketing plan. After all, they are the ones that are to be served, whose needs should be satisfied. They are the ones that the business hopes to deliver value to.
Preparation of a comprehensive marketing plan.
There is a reason why a marketing plan is considered to be one of the vital components of a business plan. It is not something that you should overlook and decide not to prepare (because it takes too much work).Be clear on your objectives for creating a marketing plan.
You should also know the exact type of marketing plan you will develop. The most common types of marketing plans are:
- Tactical marketing plans, usually prepared on an annual basis, focusing on the marketing activities for the year.
- Project or functional marketing plans, pertaining to specific activities or programs related to marketing. Examples are advertising plans, trade show plans, publicity plans, and media plans.
- Strategic marketing plans, which are usually lengthier, more detailed, and more encompassing, often covering a period of 3 to 5 years on average.
Use the 4 Ps.
They are there for a reason. There is also a reason why the 4 Ps are considered canon by many marketers: because they are very useful. If you use the 4 Ps as your guide, you will have a stronger foundation in formulating a marketing strategy.
In every marketing tactic or step, you should always ask: will this help the product or the brand meet the needs of the customer? Is the price within the financial capabilities of the customer? Will the customer be willing to pay that price? Is the product made accessible and available to the customer? Is your promotion doing what it should?
Design marketing programs around real-life events.
Reality resonates more strongly with consumers more than make-believe. Even if there is an element of make-believe, there should always be a touch of reality involved.
The fact of the matter is that consumers respond more favorably to stimulus that they can identify with. If they had prior experience with something that was touched on by the marketing campaign or strategy of a company, they are more likely to pay more attention, take notice and, hopefully, take the action that is expected of them.
#2 Outsourcing marketing services or functions
Marketing responsibilities have the tendency to become too heavy for management to take on, that it opts to outsource marketing functions, leaving the job in the hands of the experts.
Some businesses are capable of forming – and sustaining – their own marketing team. However, there are also those that find it more effective and cost-efficient to outsource these functions.
Why should businesses consider outsourcing marketing functions and services?
- Outsourcing allows the business to focus on its core competencies and concentrate on what it is good at. There will be no problems caused by attention being divided between their core competencies and marketing the products. The danger in trying to do all things all at once is that some business processes may suffer.
- Outsourcing facilitates proper division of labor. Experts should only focus on their expertise. One cannot expect a product developer to also worry about how it will be marketed later.
- Outsourcing allows a business to establish its leadership in the field. A company can have an easier time attracting the top talents in the industry if it becomes known for being able to draw clear lines between its core and non-core competencies.
- Outsourcing allows the business to have savings. Aside from saving on overhead and the compensation paid to full-time staff and employees, outsourcing also saves the company from spending time and other resources in recruitment, hiring and training marketing staff.
- Outsourcing allows the business to get the benefits of a top marketing team, while sticking to its marketing budget. Outsourced marketers also have a lot of experiences that the business can take advantage of.
#3 Involve all stakeholders.
Marketing should be an organization-wide effort, not just limited to the marketing or sales team. The success of the company’s marketing efforts is also largely impacted by the amount of support given by management and the other members of the organization. The CEO, for example, should give his full support, because a strong showing of executive backing will definitely help boost the confidence of the marketing team.
It is not just management and members of the business organization that should be sought for their support. All the stakeholders should be willing to give their support to the marketing efforts of the company whenever necessary.
#4 Keep all communication lines open.
Planning is definitely going to be more effective and efficient with the involvement of many people. Often, the best ideas are obtained from brainstorming activities within groups. You never know; the next brilliant marketing idea may be given by someone not in the marketing team.
You have to start from somewhere, and if you are a new business, one good benchmarking method would entail looking at the marketing plans and activities of competitors.
One mistake often made by companies is using random companies as benchmarks. Results of the benchmarking will be more relevant and reliable if the companies used belong to the same industry, and are direct competitors, since you will basically be moving in the same business circles.
#6 Staying fresh, current and true.
Marketers are always on their toes, keeping their eyes and ears peeled on new developments that may impact their marketing strategies. This is because marketing, as a whole, is a very dynamic field. Add if you consider the fast pace of technology, marketers find their hands full all the time trying to stay up to date.
The marketing strategies of a company should be current, which is why it is advantageous to have marketers who are forward-looking and in touch with the times. Otherwise, you will be left with a marketing plan that is no longer feasible in just a few years.
The importance of staying current and up-to-date is seen often in the case of internet or online marketing. Content marketing, search engine optimization, search terms… these are greatly influenced by the passage of time. What is fresh today may not be seen as such in the next week. Thus, it is left in the hands of marketers to find ways to make sure their marketing will still apply even years into the future.
Honesty should also be valued highly. Even the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) formally set it forth in their guidelines. Advertising must “tell the truth” and not be misleading to consumers. In order for advertising to be reliable, there should be something substantial to back up the claims.
#7 Embrace technology and make it work for you.
If there is one amazing marketing tool that can be used, that would be technology. These days, technological advancements have made what used to be inconceivable marketing feats possible.
Social media, for instance, has proven to be one of the current more powerful marketing tools. Even the big businesses know this, judging from how much they invest in creating online presence in social media websites.
Marketers are always looking for collaborative opportunities, where they can enter into partnerships with different media and entertainment platforms, such as BuzzFeed and Vice.
This also involves establishing a solid relationship with the media. Being in an antagonistic or hostile relationship with the press is a sure way to lower the chances of your business succeeding. The media isa very helpful partner in marketing, and making sure that you maintain a good relationship with them will definitely come in handy in future product placements and ad campaigns.
Learn more about the marketing technology universe in the following presentation.
#8 Stick to the budget.
If there is a marketing budget drawn up or prepared, stick to it. Often, companies encounter large problems that started from their inability to stay within the limits of the marketing budget given to them.
If you are able to stick to the budget, that is a clear indication of your ability to implement the marketing plan.
#9 Turning customers into partners.
Word of mouth is often said to be the best form of advertising. Therefore, it only makes sense that customers are the best brand ambassadors. What many companies do these days is to tap into their customer base, choosing those with the capability to become credible influencers and strong ambassadors for their brand.
They usually enlist the help of these potential brand ambassadors by providing them with promotional gifts, often free samples of their products or even samples of products that are yet to be released. In exchange, they will ask for reviews or testimonials for the products.
It has always been the practice of many marketers to enlist celebrities and famous personalities to endorse products, hoping their influence will translate to the product they are promoting, and boost sales. That still works, and we do not see any reason why it should be stopped any time soon. However, marketers are becoming more circumspect in choosing which personality to promote which product.
#10 Always track progress of your marketing.
There should be a process for measuring, monitoring and reporting, in order for the company to ascertain whether the marketing plan is being followed or not. This will enable early corrections in case of errors and appropriate adjustments or tweaks when and where needed.
#11 Accept that marketing is a long-term commitment.
It doesn’t matter if the marketing plan is an annual one, or if it is just for a specific project or activity. The fact remains that it is part of the overall marketing strategy of the company. Unless you only have a short term vision for the company, thinking short-term with respect to the marketing of a company is not sufficient.
This means that management, and all members of the organization, not just the marketing team, should also show the same level of commitment. This calls for continuous collaboration among everyone, and a willingness to engage every step of the process.
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