Marketing consists of advertising and promoting your product or service in order to sell it. Your business produces goods and services. Marketing is what lets potential customers know that they are available for sale. Sales, advertising, and public relations are each essential components of marketing and each require specialized skills and expertise. While a small business may have only one person performing all these functions under the marketing umbrella, knowledge of each area is important to develop a focused effort.
A focus on what the customer wants and needs is essential to successful marketing efforts. This customer-orientation should go hand-in-hand with the company's objective of maintaining a profitable volume of sales. Marketing is a creative process combining all of the activities needed to accomplish both of these objectives.
The American Marketing Association's definition of marketing is:
"The process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods, and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational objectives."
You see in the above definition that the process of marketing begins with discovering what product customers want to buy. Providing the features and quality customers want is a critical first step in marketing. you will be facing an uphill battle if you provide something you want to produce and then try to convince someone to buy it.
Once you have a product, you need to determine a price for the product, let potential customers know about your product, and make it available to them. These are often called the four "P's" of marketing:
If you cover the four P's well, you should have no trouble achieving a fifth P: profits.
Marketing activities are numerous and varied because they basically include everything needed to get a product off the drawing board and into the hands of the customer. The field of marketing is very broad, including activities such as designing the product so it will be desirable to customers (using tools such as market research and pricing; promoting the product so people will know about it (using tools such as public relations, advertising, marketing communications; and exchanging it with the customer (through sales and distribution.)
It is important to note that the field of marketing includes sales, but it also includes many functions besides sales. Many people mistakenly think that marketing and sales are the same - they are not.
Another way to look at marketing activities is to consider the big picture of how they fit in with the other business functions.
- Through marketing efforts, decisions are made and strategies are implemented concerning:
- Production/Operations creates the products
- Financial management handles the capital and operating funds to run the business
- Human resources manages employees and the policies concerning them
Usually, a marketing a product or service relies upon the coordination of several business areas to be successful. So, marketing requires coordinating with everyone who plays a part in the common goal of pleasing the customer. For a small business owner who has no or few employees, this means looking at problems through a variety of lenses so that all the bases of marketing, production, financial management, and human resources are covered.
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