As a business person, you want customers who are happy with your product or service. You want them to keep coming back to you with their needs or problems.
This section will get you thinking about your customer and your product or service, and how you might promote and distribute your product or service.
What is Marketing?
Many companies develop a product or service, then look for someone to buy it. A better approach is to find an unfilled need in the marketplace, then design a product or service to fill it.
The process by which you identify the unfilled needs or problems of your customers, then design a product or service to meet these needs, is called marketing.
Why You Need Marketing
Markets have become increasingly competitive. The process that ends in a sale has become more elaborate and requires strategy and skill.
- Educates consumers
- Generates new attitudes towards your company and your product or service
- Stimulates new ideas for using your product or service
- Creates a demand for your product or service
Components of Marketing
Marketing involves an exchange between you and your customer. In order for this exchange to be of value, you should always keep the following four components of marketing in mind:
- Your customer
- Your product or service
- Your marketing tools
- Your method of distribution
Know Your Customer
Customer focussed marketing is critical to the success of your business. Try to focus on the specific problems faced by your target customer rather than on your capabilities. Remember, your goal is to meet the needs of your customer.
You will want to evaluate your customer’s current situation, identify needs or opportunities, and then select and develop solutions that will enhance business development.
Keep Your Customer
Most people think of marketing only in terms of attracting new customers. Existing customers are just as valuable because they:
- Provide all of your current revenue
- Hopefully will provide tomorrow’s revenue as well
- Represent your largest source of referral
- Cost less to communicate with than prospective customers
What is Your Product or Service?
You can’t be all things to all people. Therefore, you should be very clear in your own mind what it is you are able to offer to your customers.
- You must understand every aspect of your product or service:
- What is your product or service?
- What resources do you depend on?
- How can your product or service benefit your customer?
Marketing tools will help you get a message about your product or service out to your customers. In other words, these tools help you to promote your product or service.
Some marketing tools available to you include:
- Public relations
- Direct mail
- Sales promotion
- Speeches/Guest lectures
Managing Your Marketing Tools
A successful marketing program integrates marketing tools effectively. It’s wise to use a variety of marketing tools rather than depending on only one tool, as each tool builds on the effectiveness of the others.
Table 2: Examples of Marketing Tools
|Advertising||Focuses the message|
|Seminars and speaking engagements||Demonstrates your expertise and informs customers|
|Direct Mail||Calls for specific action from a targeted audience|
Distribution can be viewed as links in a chain, with each performing a specialized function.
The most direct method of distribution is direct sales to the consumer.
Some distribution channels involve several organizations which play a role in the flow of goods and services from producer to ultimate user.
Three examples of distribution channels are as follows:
- Producer to Consumer
- Producer to Retailer to Consumer
- Producer to Wholesaler to Retailer to Consumer
When selecting your channel of distribution, try to consider the following:
1. Your consumer
The geographic location and needs of your potential consumer market are important. Where does the consumer want to buy, and when does the consumer want to buy.
2. Your product
Your product’s characteristics are also very important. You will need to consider the weight and bulk, unit value, technical characteristics, amount of service it requires, its perishability and the degree to which it is standardized or custom made.
Complex or highly technical products can also be sold directly from the manufacturer to the buyer.
3. Your competition
Should you use a similar channel or an entirely different one from your competitors? Similar channels are used for most target markets due to established patterns of customer shopping behaviour. Can you identify a better system of distribution, perhaps one that increases delivery time, for example?
Click on Worksheet 2.2 to complete Marketing Basics.