Marketing: the basics
Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of your ideas, goods or services to satisfy the needs of individual consumers or organisations.
Every business needs to successfully market their products and services. Marketing is a critical tool for establishing awareness, attracting new customers and building lasting relationships. When done effectively, marketing can help you increase sales and establish your competitive advantage.
Today’s customers are spoilt for choice. Marketing uses communication and advertising tactics to persuade customers that your brand, including your products and services, are exactly what they need. Even though you are marketing your brand, every aspect of your marketing strategy should focus on satisfying the current and future needs of your customers.
Your approach to marketing will inform your sales techniques, so communication and collaboration within your team is critical, and everyone in your organisation should have some ownership of your marketing campaigns.
Marketing is a crucial aspect of your business and requires research, time, planning, and appropriate budget allocations. This guide will help you understand the basics of marketing.
The 7 Ps of marketing
The 7 Ps are a set of recognised marketing tactics, which you can use in any combination to satisfy customers in your target market. The 7 Ps are controllable, but subject to your internal and external marketing environments. Combining these different marketing tactics to meet your customers’ needs and wants is known as using a ‘tactical marketing mix’.
Product refers to what you are selling, including all of the features, advantages and benefits that your customers can enjoy from buying your goods or services. When marketing your product, you need to think about the key features and benefits your customers want or need, including (but not limited to) styling, quality, repairs, and accessories.
You can use research and development to inform the development of new products in your business.
This refers to your pricing strategy for your products and services and how it will affect your customers. You should identify how much your customers are prepared to pay, how much mark-up you need to cater for overheads, your profit margins and payment methods, and other costs. To attract customers and retain your competitive advantage, you may also wish to consider the possibility of discounts and seasonal pricing.
Learn more about pricing your products.
These are the promotional activities you use to make your customers aware of your products and services, including advertising, sales tactics, promotions and direct marketing. Generally these are referred to as marketing tactics.
Learn more about promotional activities.
Place is where your products and services are seen, made, sold or distributed. Access for customers to your products is key and it is important to ensure that customers can find you.
You can set yourself apart from your competition through the design of your retail space and by using effective visual merchandising techniques. If you are not a retail business, place is still an important part of your marketing. Your customers may need a quick delivery turnaround, or want to buy locally manufactured products.
If you are starting a new business, finding the right business location will be a key marketing tactic.
People refer to the staff and salespeople who work for your business, including yourself.
When you provide excellent customer service, you create a positive experience for your customers, and in doing so market your brand to them. In turn, existing customers may spread the word about your excellent service and you can win referrals.
Give your business a competitive advantage by recruiting the right people, training your staff to develop their skills, and retaining good staff.
Process refers to the processes involved in delivering your products and services to the customer. It is also about being ‘easy to do business with’.
Having good process in place ensures that you:
- repeatedly deliver the same standard of service to your customers
- save time and money by increasing efficiency.
Learn more about business processes, procedures and standards.
Physical evidence refers to everything your customers see when interacting with your business. This includes:
- the physical environment where you provide the product or service
- the layout or interior design
- your packaging
- your branding.
Physical evidence can also refer to your staff and how they dress and act.
Consider how your store’s layout, fixtures and signage can build your brand and increase your sales.
Choose your promotional activities
The goal of marketing is to stand out and be noticed. Good marketing keeps drawing your customers’ attention to your products and services. Your clearly defined, well-packaged, competitively-priced products and services are the foundation of your marketing.
The newer you are in your market, the harder you have to work to attract and retain new customers. Many of your marketing activities will focus on communicating to customers the features and benefits of your products (i.e. compared to your competitors). Consider which promotional activities will best meet your marketing needs.
Types of promotional activities
Product and service promotion is the most common form of marketing. Promotional activities can include:
- advertising — you can advertise your product, service or brand in newspapers, radio, television, magazines, outdoor signage and online. Learn more about how to make your advertising successful.
- personal selling or telemarketing — effective personal selling relies on good interpersonal and communication skills, excellent product and service knowledge and the ability to sell product benefits to prospective customers.
- publicity — created by sending media releases to print and broadcasting media, giving interviews to the media and from word-of-mouth. Learn more about public relations.
- short-term sales promotions — market your product or service using coupons, competitions and contests. Find out about the benefits of coupon websites.
- direct marketing — involves sending letters, emails, pamphlets and brochures to individual target clients, often followed by personal selling or telemarketing. Learn more about direct marketing.
You can use any combination of these methods to target your customers. The right promotional mix will help you satisfy your customers’ needs, increase sales, improve your results and increase your ability to reach multiple customers within your target market.
Online marketing is often cost-effective and is becoming increasingly important to businesses. Developing a separate online marketing plan to evaluate your options and help implement your strategy is vital in the modern marketplace.
Be aware that your online marketing may require different training to other forms of marketing. Depending on the type of business you run and your own particular marketing strategy, you and your staff may need to prioritise learning how to run or edit a website or effectively use social media, before learning how to communicate over the phone, or face-to-face.
Many online marketing tools of the past — such as pop-up advertising — are no longer acceptable to internet users. Learn more about doing business online
Skills used for successful marketing
Effective marketing campaigns require a range of skills and knowledge. To successfully market your products and services, you may need to upskill yourself or your team members.
Consider whether individual members of your team have the business skills necessary to run a successful market campaign. Take some time to identify where you need to provide further staff training, personal development or mentoring for yourself and your staff.
While you can continue to improve your team’s skills in some areas, there are 3 key areas of marketing where you should feel confident in the current ability of your marketing staff.
Communicate, negotiate and network
Good marketers are strong communicators and astute business operators. Your team’s communication skills will help them make deals with suppliers and service providers, maintain relationships with your customers, and build valuable networks in your market.
In larger businesses, you may also have to navigate complex internal discussions. Your communication skills will help you negotiate marketing goals with your sales team.
Collaborate with your sales team
If you are a larger business, you may have separate sales and marketing teams. Your sales team are an essential part of your marketing success and involving them in developing your marketing strategies will help you motivate and focus your salespeople to achieve your marketing objectives.
In smaller businesses with fewer team members, you still need to work to ensure that your marketing objectives are consistent with your sales targets and overall business goals.
Know your strengths and weaknesses
Evaluating and understanding your business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis) will help you to make informed decisions and deliver your marketing effectively. Know the pros and cons of your business’s operating systems, financial commitments, legal obligations and workforce skills.
Conducting a SWOT analysis prior to embarking on a marketing campaign can help you identify training needs and make good marketing decisions along the way, including:
- developing a targeted, direct mail campaign within the capability of your database of potential customers
- appropriately spending your marketing budget
- using staff in a personal selling campaign that excel in the necessary communication skills
- adhering to privacy regulations in a telemarketing campaign.
Marketing actions chart
Planning your marketing actions will help you to market your products and services effectively. A key step in this process is to research your customers so you understand how best to market your products and services to your target market.
You should also think about:
- how much time and money you can devote to your marketing activities
- how many people you need to reach to achieve your expected sales levels
- the cost and time needed for each promotional campaign you want to run.