Marketing evolved as a business management methodology over the years to become a tool that could create, maintain and deliver results to customers. Often, marketing is seen as a singular activity within the scope of a business but at the micro level, marketing is a culmination of the marriage between multiple business aspects. Only when a number of tools come together as one, marketing as a whole can succeed. Today, we look at the latter, what it encompasses and how to define it.
Definition of Marketing:
There are many definitions of marketing but perhaps the truest one is as follows, “The activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for consumers, patrons, associates, and society at large.”
This definition has been adopted by most business management experts as it encompasses customers, partners and society, all the parties that are often affected by a business. In order to successfully align itself with the business’s goals, traditional marketing methodology had 4 components.
The Four P’s of Marketing:
As modern business management was evolving in the 1940s and 1950s, Marketing was broadly segregated into 4 levels, Product, Pricing, Promotion and Place.
- Product: In order for a business to operate and run a successful marketing component, it needs to have compelling useful products. The products must follow the need/want mindset, i.e., a business can only sustain itself if it makes products that are either needed or wanted by customers. Products make the core of any marketing campaign.
- Pricing: Pricing of the above mentioned products play a key role in a business’s success. The marketing teams of any business need to create a pricing model for all product lines to align them to particular market segments. The pricing often follows a supply/demand model which is correct but companies are known to sometimes overprice or underprice certain products to get market shares, push a product as premium and so on. This can be observed in today’s online retail warfare where most companies are ready to make losses in the short run in return for a larger market share.
- Place: Place is also known as the distribution point, i.e., where the products are made available from. When traditional marketing was evolving, distribution channels were limited but in the age of the internet, any company can have a globally available distribution channel, especially with products available in the “soft” format. The place of distribution of a product is the key to its success and this facet also falls under marketing.
- Promotion: Promotions is what most people think is the primary responsibility of marketing but in reality, promotion comes into picture when all the other P’s fall in place. Promotions can have many targets, some could be designed to attract new customers, some could be created to keep existing ones and some could be geared towards the stock clearance. Apart from these basic types, marketing teams run promotions from time to time in order to make the best of certain seasonal holidays, boost the sales of a newly launched product or to reduce cannibalization of existing offerings.
When it comes to promotions, there are a plethora of tools to choose from. Some of these tools have been in vogue for centuries and some have been a part of business since the dawn of internet. Here are few of the tools we are most familiar with.
- Business Cards: It is a tool that is old but still works perfectly. No better way to promote your business than handing over business cards.
- Flyers: Distributing flyers to announce the launch of a new product or provide a special offer to new customers hardly fails even in this day and age
- Online Mailing List: A 21st century marketing tool, creating a distribution list of emails to spread the word about upcoming offers is the standard way nowadays.
- Product Catalogue: According to studies, 40% of the people in the USA still prefer to do their shopping based on hard copies of product catalogues. Which is why most companies still prefer to print and mail large numbers of business catalogues each year!
- Branded Stationery: Using and giving away branded stationery such as notepads, bags, pens and other paraphernalia work like a very good word of mouth campaign.
- Flex/Hoardings: Strategically placed flex boards or signs that announce new products or great promotional offers can gain a lot of traction for any business.
As this piece suggests, marketing is not a standalone gimmick that is constantly informing existing and new customers about offers, discounts and products. Rather it is a complex jugglery of many aspects of a business and the market. Failing to address any of the aspects could result in a net loss and a failed business.