The dictionary definition of marketing is: ‘the provision of goods or services to meet consumer’s needs’. In other words, marketing involves finding out what your customers want and matching your company’s products to meet those requirements, and in the process making a profit for the company. Successful marketing involves having the right product available in the right place at the right time and making sure that the customer is aware of the product. It therefore brings in ‘tomorrow’s orders’.
Selling is a straightforward concept that involves persuading a customer to buy a product. It brings in ‘today’s orders’. It is, however, only one aspect of the marketing process.
To be successful your company must have the capability to bring in today’s orders (selling) and tomorrow’s orders (marketing). Most companies lost between 10 and 20 per cent of their customers each year. So if you are not planning how you can find new customers or planning for new or enhanced products to meet your existing customers’ needs, you will soon be out of business.
Customers will only buy what they want. Powerful advertising is often criticized as being a tool that allows companies to persuade customers to buy what the company wants to sell. This is just not true. Two-thirds of new products fail in the marketplace. Companies have to listen to customers and the market and adapt their products. They have to become ‘market-oriented’.
In many companies marketing is still considered to be more of an art than a science. Most people in sales will have been on one or several sales training courses. These courses will be selling-oriented, of the type run by organizations accredited by The Institute of Sales & Marketing Management (www.ismm.co.uk). As well as general courses that individual sales personnel can attend, there are also many organizations now that run excellent in-house sales training courses that are tailor-made for a particular company. They are good at teaching the basics about selling, but they teach you virtually nothing about marketing, because that is not their function, However, the run marketing courses at various levels. An introductory course on marketing can be invaluable for all sales personnel.
Even now, in large companies, the Sales and marketing functions are often completely separated, sometimes with different directors for ‘sales’ and for ‘marketing’. In some organizations, sales is a local function and marketing is handled in isolation by head office or by a ‘marketing executive’. This should not be the case. The sales and marketing functions need to be combined or at least to be run with the same company aims. There needs to be a continuous inter-change of information between the sales function and the marketing function.
Marketing is the process that brings together the abilities of a company and the requirements of its customers:
Companies have to be flexible if they want to succeed. They have to be prepared to modify or replace products as the marketplace and their customers’ requirements change. They must be prepared o introduce new products or enter new markets. They must be able to read their customers and the marketplace.
A company manufacturing portable CD players in the 1990s would have had to change to manufacturing MP3 players in the last 10 years. Video player/recorders were replaced by DVD player/recorders and now these are being replaced by hard disk recorders or by downloading films from the internet. Each of these products satisfied the same basic customer need, but at a different moment in time. If the companies had not changed products, they would have gone out of business.
This balancing process takes place in the ‘marketing environment’, which is not controlled by individuals or by companies, is constantly changing and must be monitored continuously. There are a number of important factors that affect the way that the marketing balance is achieved in practice and affect the marketing environment.
So marketing involves:
The abilities of the company can be managed by the marketing organization, which can control four main elements of a company’s operation known as the ‘marketing mix’. The ‘marketing mix’ is also often referred to as the ‘four Ps’. These are four controllable variables that allow a company to come up with a policy that is profitable and satisfies its customers. They relates to:
‘Promotion’ and ‘Place’ are concerned with reaching your potential customers in the first place, while ‘Products’ and ‘Price’ will allow you to satisfy the customers’ requirements. All of these elements of the marketing mix will be covered in much greater detail in later chapters, where we will show you how to use them to best effect. But I think it would be useful to include some material here to show how these elements can be considered from a marketing perspective.