Marketing is usually affiliated with advertising and “getting people to buy stuff.” In reality, however, the majority of people I know do not have a firm grasp on what marketing really is, what it does, and the value being offered by marketing agencies. It seems that people all have at least a general idea in that they know marketing involves business and advertising in some way, but rarely do I find someone who understands the complexity of what marketing really is.
Enlighten you? Why sure, I think I will!
Marketing is defined by the American Marketing Association as the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. The key word there is value. Marketing today focuses on the value that companies are offering to consumers and effectively presents that value to the consumers that are more likely to purchase.
Countless studies take place to observe consumer behavior in order to group consumers into segments to then target them according to their likes and desires, previous purchasing behavior, and predicted purchasing behavior. Marketing drives consumers to purchase by drawing them to what they are more likely to buy based off of their likes and dislikes.
Often, marketers get a bad rap for seeming controlling in a sense, yet when you study the effects of marketing and the systematic processes, you soon realize that it saves everyone time and money, including the consumer. People know what they want and producers want to keep costs down in order to be able to produce more in the long run, thus, marketing helps both to get a better value when applied effectively toward targeted segments.
When a family shops for laundry detergent at a grocery store, they are looking for two things; value and quality. If the quality and value are balanced properly and that is made clear to the family, a purchase will be made. However, if all the package says is that this is laundry detergent, then the consumer doesn’t know to trust that product. Brands have power and the way they are presented to the public is through efficient marketing techniques. Everything from the name of the brand to the picture on the laundry detergent box to the advertised smell of the product to the description of the expected results of the detergent are all aspects of portraying the message in a way that draws a specific group of people to purchase based off of their needs and desires.
When a product keeps its promise and the experience of the consumption is equal to the message that was delivered and promised, a powerful connection is made in the consumer’s brain to recognize the confidence in the purchasing decision. This leads to brand recognition and brand loyalty.
Marketing is made up of 4 major components in terms of product marketing and 7 components for services marketing. Together, these components make up what is called the marketing mix.
The 4 P’s of the marketing mix are product, price, promotion, and place. The product is what is being offered to the consumer and meets a need or desire. The price is meant to be a reflection of the value of the product that creates revenue for a business but also is reasonable enough to consumers for them to actually purchase it. Promotion is how the product is expressed in the marketing message and how it is portrayed to be of value to the consumer. Lastly, the place is how it is literally organized and put within reach for consumers. This can involve everything from the package that the product is placed in to how it is arranged on the shelf at the store. All of these aspects are a part of marketing.
The last 3 P’s of the marketing mix that come with services marketing are in addition to the first 4 of the general marketing mix. These are people, process, and physical environment. People are not only the consumers but also the employees that make up part of the marketing message to consumers. The process is the before service efforts, the actual receiving of the service (often intangible) that involves consumption, and the after effects of a service. Often, customers are directly involved in co-production. An example would be when someone gets a haircut. The stylist cuts the hair but the client choses the style and is present for the entire process. The physical environment, also known as servicescape, is the physical surrounding and location of which the service takes place. This can be a business’ website or an actual location, but either way, it must be consistent with the marketing message and what is offered through purchasing the service.
Marketing is often a complex and holistic approach to selling and providing. It takes skills, education, and a constant drive for change and creativity to keep the marketing message going. There are many fields within marketing ranging from research to brand development to project campaigning. All of these branches rely on one another to present a powerful message and spread the business to those it targets. Once the message is received by consumers and a purchase is made, the marketing efforts still do not end there. Consumers then work as agents for the company. The power of word of mouth is one of the biggest tools marketers can rely on; however, to ensure that there is positive word of mouth, the 4 or 7 P’s must always provide accuracy and consistent communication to be effect.
Hopefully now you have been enlightened to a better understanding of the purpose and value marketing offers to a business, especially a start-up company. It is not just advertising and selling, but rather an overall, encompassing method to bring value to consumers in a way that drives businesses and consumers to both reach their needs.
The Nourishing Business Solutions blog exists to help business owners find the value in marketing and to offer practical tips and advice on how to make little changes go a long way when growing your business. The day to day habits you build will either help your company grow or help it wither away.