Marketing is the process of getting potential clients or customers interested in your products and services. The key word in this definition is "process"; marketing involves researching, promoting, selling, and distributing your products or services. This discipline centers on the study of market and consumer behaviors and it analyzes the commercial management of companies in order to attract, acquire and retain customers (hopefully instilling brand loyalty) by satisfying their wants and needs.
Marketing as a discipline involves all the actions a company undertakes to draw in customers and maintain relationships with them. Networking with potential or past clients is part of the work too, including writing thank you emails, playing golf with a prospective client, returning calls and emails quickly, and meeting with clients for coffee or a meal. At its most basic, marketing seeks to match a company's products and services to customers who want access to those products. The matching of product to customer ultimately ensures profitability.
The reality, is that marketing sits at the intersection of the business and the customer – the great arbiter of the self interests of the business and the needs of the buyer.
- At a fundamental level, marketing is the process of understanding your customers, and building and maintaining relationships with them.
- Marketing is the key to an organization’s success, regardless of its size.
- There are several types and sub-types of marketing, digital and offline. You should determine and pursue the ones that work best for you.
- Marketing and Sales teams need to have a unified approach. Automation helps them work towards the same goals.
The Marketing Lifecycle
Enterpreneur and Content Marketer, Julia McCoy along with her team recently introduced the Marketing Lifecyle. Julia predicts that the Marketing Lifecyle will replace the Sales Funnel. According to Julia "Today and tomorrow’s great, standout marketing is all about building trust with your audience, and consistently giving them creative, nurturing, and strategic content. And in order to get there, some things have to change. It’s time for some old, anti-trust practices to die — and it’s time to introduce and start more conversations around new, better practices."
When the concept of the sales funnel came out (1924), the internet didn’t exist. Over 40,000 searches happen on Google per second, 1.49 billion people log onto Facebook daily, 84% of buyers trust online reviews (BrightLocal), and 47% of B2B buyers read 3-5 blog posts or content pieces prior to talking with a salesperson (DemandGen). 45% of Americans use Twitter (Pew Research Center), and 77% of Twitter users (Twitter) feel more positive about a brand when their tweet has been replied to. That means that a typical buyer’s journey could look a lot more like this, and there could be a lot longer of a time period between the first and the last stage than the funnel represents.
The Marketing Lifecycle proposes that there are four true stages to an authentic, customer-centric Marketing Lifecycle journey.
- Awareness: This is the traffic and awareness stage when someone first hears about you and has a potential need for what you might offer. Your content and work here should be value-focused, first and foremost.
- Interest & Intent: Lead is: Interested & Has Potential Intent to Buy. In the sales funnel, this is usually broken up into two stages: Interest and Desire. However, the pattern with smart buyers today, especially those buying online (digital and physical services), is that a lead can go from interest to desire very quickly.
- Decision: Lead is: Ready to Buy. This is the action stage. The main action here is sales. If the other stages are done correctly, and your content has built a great presence, you offer a solid service and products, and you or your team has answered every question, the prospect should buy.
- Loyalty: Lead is: Delighted & Willing to Send Referrals. This is where you connect with and delight your customers on a regular basis. They become advocates for your brand at this point. This is one of the most important parts to building a long-term presence and profitability as a business, yet it is so often left off of the sales funnel! Your customers’ loyalty reflects the strength of your brand. You should be reaching out and making sure your customers are happy, checking in with them, and sending them occasional gifts or thank-yous to maintain that relationship and loyalty. It’s up to you as the brand to make sure the customer is delighted. If at any point they’ve been dissatisfied, it’s also imperative to find out why and repair whatever could be broken.
Types of Marketing
- Influencer Marketing: According to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), influencer marketing focuses on leveraging individuals who have influence over potential buyers and orienting marketing activities around these individuals to drive a brand message to the larger market. In influencer marketing, rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, a brand inspires or compensates influencers (which can include celebrities, content creators, customer advocates, and employees) to get the word out on their behalf.
- Relationship Marketing: According to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), relationship marketing refers to strategies and tactics for segmenting consumers to build loyalty. Relationship marketing leverages database marketing, behavioral advertising and analytics to target consumers precisely and create loyalty programs.
- Viral Marketing: Viral marketing is a marketing phenomenon that facilitates and encourages people to pass along a marketing message. Nicknamed “viral” because the number of people exposed to a message mimics the process of passing a virus or disease from one person to another.
- Green Marketing: Green marketing refers to the development and marketing of products that are presumed to be environmentally safe (i.e., designed to minimize negative effects on the physical environment or to improve its quality). This term may also be used to describe efforts to produce, promote, package, and reclaim products in a manner that is sensitive or responsive to ecological concerns.
- Keyword Marketing: Keyword marketing involves placing a marketing message in front of users based on the specific keywords and phrases they are using to search. A key advantage of this method is that it gives marketers the ability to reach the right people with the right message at the right time. For many marketers, keyword marketing results in the placement of an ad when certain keywords are entered. Note that in SEO, this term refers to achieving top placement in the search results themselves.
- Guerrilla Marketing: Guerilla marketing describes an unconventional and creative marketing strategy intended to get maximum results from minimal resources.
Where your marketing campaigns live depends entirely on where your customers spend their time. It's up to you to conduct market research that determines which types of marketing -- and which mix of tools within each type -- is best for building your brand. Here are several types of marketing that are relevant today, some of which have stood the test of time:
- Internet marketing: Inspired by an Excedrin product campaign that took place online, the very idea of having a presence on the internet for business reasons is a type of marketing in and of itself.
- Search engine optimization: Abbreviated "SEO," this is the process of optimizing content on a website so that it appears in search engine results. It's used by marketers to attract people who perform searches that imply they're interested in learning about a particular industry.
- Blog marketing: Blogs are no longer exclusive to the individual writer. Brands now publish blogs to write about their industry and nurture the interest of potential customers who browse the internet for information.
- Social media marketing: Businesses can use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and similar social networks to create impressions on their audience over time.
- Print marketing: As newspapers and magazines get better at understanding who subscribes to their print material, businesses continue to sponsor articles, photography, and similar content in the publications their customers are reading.
- Search engine marketing: This type of marketing is a bit different than SEO, which is described above. Businesses can now pay a search engine to place links on pages of its index that get high exposure to their audience. (It's a concept called "pay-per-click" -- I'll show you an example of this in the next section).
- Video marketing: While there were once just commercials, marketers now put money into creating and publishing all kinds of videos that entertain and educate their core customers.
Stages of Marketing
Companies must go through multiple stages of marketing to ensure their products or services are ready for selling.
- Ideation: Marketing starts when you develop an idea for a product or service. Before launching a product or services, you must decide what you are selling, how many options are available, and how it will be packaged and presented to consumers.
- Research and testing: Before you can take your idea public, you should perform marketing research and testing. Marketing departments usually test new product concepts with focus groups and surveys to gauge consumer interest, refine product ideas, and determine what price to set. Researching your competitors can help you set an optimal price and generate ideas for positioning your brand in an existing market.
- Advertising: The information you gather in your research will help you define your marketing strategy and create an advertising campaign. Campaigns can include different forms of media, events, direct advertising, paid partnerships, public relations, and more. Before beginning an advertising campaign, set concrete benchmarks that you can use to measure how effective that advertising campaign is.
- Selling: Determine where and how you plan to sell to customers. Consumer product companies, for example, sell to wholesalers who then sell to retailers. In the industrial market, the buying process is longer and involves more decision-makers. You may sell locally, nationally, or even internationally, and some companies only sell their products or services online. Your distribution and sales channels impact who buys your products, when they buy them, and how they buy them.
A marketing strategy is all of a company’s marketing goals and objectives combined into a single comprehensive plan. Business executives draw a successful marketing strategy from market research. They also focus on the right product mix so that they can get the most profit. A good marketing strategy helps companies identify their best customers. It also helps them understand consumers’ needs. With a good strategy, it is possible to implement the most effective marketing methods. A good marketing strategy should be drawn from market research and focus on the right product mix in order to achieve the maximum profit potential and sustain the business.
Marketing strategies are long-term, forward-looking approaches to planning. Their fundamental goal is to achieve a competitive advantage. When a company has an edge over a rival or rivals in the provision of a product or service, it has a competitive advantage. Mercedes, for example, has a competitive advantage over other luxury car-makers because its vehicles maintain their value. Mercedes did not obtain this competitive advantage overnight or because it was lucky. It was part of the company’s long-term strategy. Specifically, part of its marketing strategy.
A marketing plan is a roadmap for introducing and delivering your product or service to potential customers. It does not need to be long, and it doesn't have to cost a lot of money to complete, but it will take some research and effort. Putting in the work to create this marketing plan can help ensure a company's success later down the line. An effective marketing plan will help a company understand the market that it targets and the competition in that space, understand the impact and the results of marketing decisions and provide direction for future initiatives. Although marketing plans can vary depending on the industry, type of products or services, and the goals you want to achieve, there are certain essential elements that most plans include.
The marketing orientation is the most common orientation used in contemporary marketing. It is a customer-centric approach that involves a firm basing its marketing program around products that suit new consumer tastes. Firms adopting a marketing orientation typically engage in extensive market research to gauge consumer desires, use R&D to develop a product attuned to the revealed information, and then utilize promotion techniques to ensure consumers are aware of the product's existence and the benefits it can deliver. Scales designed to measure a firm's overall market orientation have been developed and found to be robust in a variety of contexts. The marketing orientation has three prime facets, which are:
- Customer orientation: A firm in the market economy can survive by producing goods that people are willing and able to buy. Consequently, ascertaining consumer demand is vital for a firm's future viability and even existence as a going concern.
- Organizational orientation: The marketing department is of prime importance within the functional level of an organization. Information from the marketing department is used to guide the actions of a company's other departments. As an example, a marketing department could ascertain (via marketing research) that consumers desired a new type of product, or a new usage for an existing product. With this in mind, the marketing department would inform the R&D department to create a prototype of a product/service based on consumers' new desires. The production department would then start to manufacture the product, while the marketing department would focus on the promotion, distribution, pricing, etc. of the product. Additionally, a firm's finance department would be consulted, with respect to securing appropriate funding for the development, production and promotion of the product. Finance may oppose the required capital expenditure, since it could undermine a healthy cash flow for the organization.
- Mutually beneficial exchange: In a transaction in the market economy, a firm gains revenue, which thus leads to more profits, market shares, and/or sales. A consumer on the other hand gains the satisfaction of a need/want, utility, reliability and value for money from the purchase of a product or service.
The Importance of Marketing
- Marketing Is an Effective Way of Engaging Customers: It’s important for your business to engage its customers. Marketing is a tool to keep the conversation going. Engaging customers is different from pushing your offers. Engaging involves furnishing your customers with relevant information about your products and your business as well. It’s all about creating fresh content. Tell your customers what they don’t know. Let it be interesting and worth their time. Social media is one of the best platforms where you can engage your customers. Some organizations use short videos and other humor-laden tricks to engage their customer base. By engaging your customers, marketing gives them a sense of belonging.
- Marketing Helps to Build and Maintain the Company’s Reputation: The growth and life span of your business is positively correlated to your business’s reputation. Hence, it’s fair to say your reputation determines your brand equity. A majority of marketing activities are geared towards building the brand equity of the company. Your business’s reputation is built when it effectively meets the expectations of its customers. Such a business is considered a responsible member of the community. The customers become proud to be associated with your products. Marketers use effective communication,branding, PR and CSR strategies to ensure that a business’s reputation is maintained.
- Marketing Helps to Build a Relationship Between a Business and Its Customers: Businesses need to build a relationship of trust and understanding with their customers. How does marketing establish this relationship? Marketing research segments should be based on demographics, psychographics, and consumer behavior. Segmentation helps the business meet the needs of its customers hence gaining their trust. The product team ensures the business delivers what’s promised at the right time. This makes the customers brand loyal. Loyal customers will have the confidence to buy more products from you. The trust and understanding between the business and its customers make your commercial activities more fruitful.
- Marketing Is a Communication Channel Used to Inform Customers: Marketing informs your customers about the products or services you’re offering them. Through marketing, the customers get to know about the value of the products, their usage and additional info that might be helpful to the customers. It creates brand awareness and makes the business stand out. There’s stiff competition in the market and you need to be a constant voice to convince the customers. Inform your customers of discounts and other competitive tricks you intend to use. Through communication, marketing helps your business become a market leader. This post explains more about how to gain a competitive advantage.
- Marketing Helps to Boosts Sales: Marketing utilizes different ways to promote your products or services. Once a product has been advertised, it’s already on the radar and this increases your chances of selling it. Customers may want to try your products or services and this will trigger a purchase decision. When customers are happy about your products or services, they become your brand ambassadors without your knowledge. They will spread the word and your sales will start to increase. Ensure you offer high-quality products and services to complement your marketing efforts.
- Marketing Aids in Providing Insights About Your Business: Every marketer understands the need for targeting the right audience. However, you must have the right content to share with such an audience. Your marketing strategies can help you establish what business messaging will convince the target audience. At this point, you have to test different messages and see what works. Once you have tested different sets of messaging on the target audience, you will find a viable baseline for your marketing efforts. It acts as a metric and provides the insight needed to make you avoid guesswork.
- Marketing Helps Your Business to Maintain Relevance: Every marketer understands the need for disrupting a potential consumer’s opinion about other products. But don’t make a mistake of taking this chance for granted. Most businesses assume that they will always remain the client’s favorite brand because up to now the client has never complained. This is the wrong mindset. You need to find ways to remain at the top of the client’s mind. Every relationship needs to be maintained. Marketing helps your business to maintain a good relationship with customers by making you remain relevant. Don’t focus on gaining new customers before addressing the need to retain the present ones.
- Marketing Creates Revenue Options: During the startup phase, your options are sparse since you’re mostly cash-strapped. This limits your options. As your marketing strategies generate more customers and revenue opportunities, you’ll begin having options. Having options is comparable to having a nice war chest. Having options will give you the courage you need to penetrate new markets. You will have the freedom to start letting go of customers who are too demanding to your sanity and well-being. Without marketing, you will be forced to continue working with clients who you have outgrown and are paying you peanuts.
- Marketing Helps the Management Team to Make Informed Decisions: Every business is confronted with problems such as to what, when, for whom and how much to produce. A complex and tedious process determine your business’s survival. As a result, businesses heavily rely on marketing mechanisms to make these decisions. Why should you rely on marketing mechanisms? These mechanisms serve as a reliable link between your business and society. They cultivate people’s mind, educate the public and convince them to buy.
Marketing Mix 4P's 5P's
Marketing Operations Management (MOM)
Marketing Resource Management (MRM)
4S Web Marketing Mix Model
5C's of Marketing Strategy
7 Ps of Marketing
Word of Mouth Marketing
Trade Marketing Mix
Direct Response Marketing
Integrated Marketing Communications
- Defining Marketing Cyberclick
- Understanding Marketing Investopedia
- Quick Takeaways on Marketing Marketing Insider Group
- The Marketing Lifecycle Julia McCoy
- What are the Different Types of Marketing? AMA
- Marketing Campaigns Caroline Forsey
- Four Stages of Marketing TheBalanceMB
- What is a Marketing Strategy? MBN
- What is a Marketing Plan? TheBalanceMB
- Marketing Orientation Wikipedia
- Why do we Need Marketing and Why is Marketing so Important? Business2Community