What Is Marketing?
Many people who end up looking for an online business will end up seeing marketing simply as online marketing, or even just as trying to sell online. Offline, many may think of marketing as little more than advertising, and I admit that before I had any formal marketing training back in England, I used to equate marketing with advertising rather than anything else. Marketing, though, is actually a range of inter-related subjects, methods, and techniques.
Definitions of marketing may vary from country to country. I was somewhat amused to find here in the Philippines that many people referred to going to the market to buy produce as "marketing"; and stores that just sold things called themselves names such as "xxxx Marketing." But that is just the way language can be twisted between countries and cultures.
Aspects Of Marketing
One of the first things you are taught in marketing, at least in England, is to think of marketing as the 4 P's. That's an easy buzz phrase to remember, and it has stuck in my mind for 20 years. It is a phrase still used today.
So, what are the 4 "P's" of the marketing mix? They are:
The 4 P's are the pivots around which marketing plans should be built, but of course each element of marketing has many aspects of its own. Such as:
The starting point for a product should be market research. Up until the 1960's, there was a tendency to go for production led marketing. What this meant was a manufacturer would make a product, and then tell the consumer: "this is our product and you must have it." From then on, though, customers started to become uppermost in the minds of producers, who realised they would design and produce much more saleable products if they had an idea what people really wanted.
Today, market research is considered an essential of good marketing practice, both online and offline.
There is no point in having a perfect product that consumers really want, if the price is not right. Too high a price may damage sales so much a potentially profitable product makes a loss. Too low a price may mean a loss however many are sold.
Price strategy in a busy market place can be based on price skimming or price penetration. Price skimming means setting the price at the top of the market range or just above, testing the market, and then, if deemed more profitable from experience, skimming the price gradually to find the optimum price.
Price penetration, on the other hand, is competing on price full on against competitors, by undercutting the market prices as they currently exist.
Pricing, of course, is far more complex than that, and there are other variables that can come into play. For example, there may be a snobbery element if your product is seen as too cheap. It is not unheard of for sales of a product to increase with a big increase in price. Top name perfumes, for example, rely on this human trait for their market share.
Promotion takes us into an area which most people will see as "marketing". Promotion is perhaps the more glamourous side of marketing, and certainly the one we are most aware of in our day to day lives.
Aspects of promotion include offline advertising and online advertising, selling, direct marketing such as telemarketing and direct mail, public relations, publicity and sales promotion.
This is perhaps the least sexy part of marketing: getting the product to the customer. It is, for example, the consideration of distribution channels, such as mail order or via wholesalers, or direct to retail outlets. It also includes the type of transportion to be used in getting products from A to B, C, D and F.
All of the 4 P's are important and to be efficient should be integrated at the product planning stage as part of an overall marketing plan. There is no point in manufacturing a super product if you have no way of distributing it; and there's no point in having a perfect distribution system if there are no products to distribute.
Luckily, 4 P's is an expression that's easy to remember.