Monday, February 14, 2011

From marketing concepts to planned strategies

In most businesses nowadays, a manager will be faced with the term “marketing”. We all know what this term refers to but we might not know the specifics of marketing in much detail. Any research on this topic however will reveal an enormous collection of books, articles and concepts that can seem distant and unrealistic to the more down-to-earth readers. The questions one might ask then are often about how the information they have about marketing strategies, marketing mix (marketing Ps) or the guiding principles of marketing will help them run their business.

The task we have set for ourselves today is of explaining in more simple terms and with more understandable examples the basic notions in marketing.

But what is marketing all about? In marketing terms it is the process that brings a potential client to the final stage of buying your product. This process is the following: awareness => perception => preference => consideration => purchase.

Basically this can be translated as such (the word product in these points can be replaced by brand or service depending on the object of your marketing strategy):
-         You make the customer aware of your product through a certain strategy (be it advertising in newspapers or on TV, distributing flyers or sending out e-mails etc…)
-         By explaining the product or showing a certain appealing feature you enable the customer to build a certain perception of your product; you can influence this perception through the ads you use or the way you approach the customer. This can be achieved through careful planning of the texts, the images or the sounds used in your advertising.
-         This specific perception of your product will enable the customer to have a preference between what you offer and what the competition offers. You must show the customer the differences between your product and the other products on the market and show how your product is better than the others (advertise your strong points in the text or images used in the advertising process).
-         The customer’s preferences will enable him to consider the different options he has at his disposal (the different products) or to consider the possibility of buying your product
-         Once he has considered this, he can enter the purchase phase

The guiding principles of marketing, or why use marketing in your sales process?
These guiding principles can seem rather obscure but are easily explained with real life situations.
Drive sales: increase and sustain sales, make sure that consumers are constantly aware of your products and help them towards the purchase phase.
Build awareness: make more consumers aware of the existence of your products (can be shareholders instead of consumers if advertising a company and not a product)
Build community: increase the number or adherents to your company, cause, ideology for some etc… It is the fact of making people not only aware of your existence and principles but also make them want to become a part of what you have to offer (think of churches and groups).
You can come up with a great number of more specific “guiding principles” to explain the point of your marketing strategy, so do not be taken aback or surprised if, throughout your research, you do not find principles that apply to your situation.

After understanding the core aspects of marketing, you can then start thinking about the actual strategy you will use while marketing. This strategy is very conveniently divided into 4 categories for a product and 7 for a service called “the 4Ps” or “the 7Ps” of marketing.
They are the following:
-         Product
-         Place
-         Price
-         Promotion
…for a product, or adding the 3 following for a service:
-         People
-         Process
-         Physical environment

Defining these points will give you an excellent overview of your marketing strategy. It is a tool that many people will forget to use when going too fast and that can make a big difference in the long run. Indeed, it is very easy to get carried away by your ideas and enthusiasm and forget the basic goal of your marketing campaign.
Nevertheless, this does not define your marketing strategy in detail but will only give an overview of the main specifics.

The Product refers to what you sell or the service you offer. For a company this could also be the brand or corporate image that needs updating or improving.
The place refers to where you are going to sell the product: in a corner shop, in super markets etc…
The price obviously refers to the price of the product you offer.
Promotion consists of all the information linked to your advertising campaign. This can include where you advertise (town, country), what media support you use (newspaper, radio etc…), what type of promotion you use (text, image, game and event) etc…

When talking about a service, your marketing mix will include these 4 Ps as well as the 3 next ones. Indeed, a service will include more parameters throughout the sales process.
People refers to the people rendering the service (waiters in a restaurant, driver in a taxi, receptionist in a hotel for example). This could include possible dress codes, attitudes towards customers, languages needed etc…
Process refers to the different steps going from the initial contact to the final sale. For example, in a restaurant this could be “client comes in and orders at the bar before being seated by the waiter” that could vary and become “client comes in and is seated by the waiter before ordering”.
Physical environment refers to the surroundings, the decoration, the vehicles used for the service provided to the client. For example, the interior of the Taxi or the decoration in a restaurant are part of the Physical Environment.

This brings us to the end of our basic guide to marketing. It should help you to better understand the different terms you may encounter when working in marketing and will enable you to plan your own marketing mix and marketing strategy.

By J.Berry 
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