The management process through which goods and services move from concept to the customer. As a practice, it consists in coordination of four elements called 4P’s: (1) identification, selection, and development of a product, (2) determination of its price, (3) selection of a distribution channel to reach the customer’s place, and (4) development and implementation of a promotional strategy.
As a philosophy, marketing is based on thinking about the business in terms of customer needs and their satisfaction. Marketing differs from selling because (in the words of Harvard Business School’s emeritus professor of marketing Theodore C. Levitt) “Selling concerns itself with the tricks and techniques of getting people to exchange their cash for your product. It is not concerned with the values that the exchange is all about. And it does not, as marketing invariably does, view the entire business process as consisting of a tightly integrated effort to discover, create, arouse, and satisfy customer needs.”
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Marketing, Advertising and Sales – a definition
Marketing is not advertising. Marketing is finding out what people want, why they want it and how much they’ll spend. Don’t confuse marketing with advertising.
Advertising is the promotion of a service or product or company. It features a strong call to action and promotes the benefits of that being advertised.
. Product/Service • What does the customer want from the product/service? What needs does it satisfy? •What features does it have to meet these needs? •Are there any features you’ve missed out? •Are you including costly features that the customer won’t actually use? •How and where will the customer use it? •What does it look like? How will customers experience it? •What size(s), color(s), and so on, should it be? •What is it to be called? •How is it branded? •How is it differentiated versus your competitors? •What is the most it can cost to provide, and still be sold sufficiently profitably? (See also Price, below).
Place • Where do buyers look for your product or service? •If they look in a store, what kind? A specialist boutique or in a supermarket, or both? Or online? Or direct, via a catalogue? •How can you access the right distribution channels? •Do you need to use a sales force? Or attend trade fairs? Or make online submissions? Or send samples to catalogue companies? •What do you competitors do, and how can you learn from that and/or differentiate?
Price • What is the value of the product or service to the buyer? •Are there established price points for products or services in this area? •Is the customer price sensitive? Will a small decrease in price gain you extra market share? Or will a small increase be indiscernible, and so gain you extra profit margin? •What discounts should be offered to trade customers, or to other specific segments of your market? •How will your price compare with your competitors?
Promotion • Where and when can you get across your marketing messages to your target market? •Will you reach your audience by advertising in the press, or on TV, or radio, or on billboards? By using direct marketing mailshot? Through PR? On the Internet? •When is the best time to promote? Is there seasonality in the market? Are there any wider environmental issues that suggest or dictate the timing of your market launch, or the timing of subsequent promotions? •How do your competitors do their promotions? And how does that influence your choice of promotional activity?
The 4Ps model is just one of many marketing mix lists that have been developed over the years. And, whilst the questions we have listed above are key, they are just a subset of the detailed probing that may be required to optimize your marketing mix.
Amongst the other marketing mix models have been developed over the years is Boom and Bitner’s 7Ps, sometimes called the extended marketing mix, which include the first 4 Ps, plus people, processes and physical layout decisions.