The facts and fictions of the marketing function.
Any business can benefit from marketing. It allows them to connect to their target customers and meet their deepest needs. Although the marketing we’re most familiar with began in the middle of the 20th century, marketing as a concept has been around for at least 200 years when modern economic principles were first developing.
Since then, marketing has been formalized into its own academic field and profession in business management. While it’s advantageous for any business owner or marketing professional to learn marketing strategy from a degree program or formalized courses, it’s not always the most practical and straightforward solution.
Today, many marketing agencies that specialize in particular tactics, industries, or markets help businesses with their marketing strategy and management. Still, it’s important that marketing professionals and business owners familiarize themselves with foundational marketing knowledge. With that knowledge, they’ll be better equipped to align business goals with their chosen marketing strategy, as both should go hand-in-hand.
Laid out below, our handbook will explain and simplify foundational marketing principles that have stood the test of time. You’ll also learn what should go into an effective marketing strategy, including tactics, analytics, and branding.
Ready to get started? Class is now in session.
The facts and fictions of the marketing function.
The American Marketing Association defines marketing as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” It’s a broad definition, but marketing is a broad discipline.
It’s not just the advertisements that appear on television or the posts that go viral on social media. It’s also the activities that lead to developing promotions, the methods that measure their return on investment, and the processes of determining who to target within a market.
In the next section, we’ll cover one of the most foundational principles of marketing − the 4 P’s.
The Marketing Mix consists of various tools used to reach a target customer that intersect with other business functions. In 1960, E. Jerome McCarthy introduced the four P’s into that model: product, price, place, and promotion.
The product is the core of the Marketing Mix, dictating what the other three P’s focus on. The business’s product, whether it’s a physical item or a service, must ultimately satisfy the needs of the target customer. Businesses must consider how the product is branded and delivered, what services − if any − will be included, the design, and how it will fit into other product lines or when compared against the competition. These activities and considerations help ensure that the product has a better chance of selling and can maintain its quality.
The price is simply how much a customer is willing to pay for the product, not only in terms of money but of time and effort to acquire it. This factor is important for business longevity since it has a direct impact on revenue. For instance, if a product is selling well because it’s priced lower than others, it may be too low to sustain a profitable business. Getting the right price that enables customers to buy and creates a profit requires consumer research and identifying how customers perceive the value of your product.
How and where customers find and purchase a product is determined by placement. In most of the 20th century, placement was mostly limited to physical storefronts or using resellers as eCommerce and direct-to-consumer business models weren’t widely practiced yet. Now, there are many options for placing products into the hands − or online carts − of customers. Determining which placement to use depends on what would be the most convenient for the target customer and practical for the business to operate successfully.
Promotion is what most marketers and business professionals are familiar with, and rightfully so since it’s the most outwardly visible of the four P’s. It’s the communications activities that make customers aware of the product, its value, and how to buy it. This includes determining which marketing channels to use, the messaging strategy, the messaging frequency, and which tactics will work the best to persuade the target customers.
When used together, the four P’s of marketing guide marketers and business owners alike with a cohesive strategy on successfully marketing to their target customer. In the next section, we’ll take a step back from the marketing mix and explain how the target customer is identified.
How to get inside the mind of your ideal customer.
What compels a person to buy a product? What makes a person buy your business’s product instead of your competitor’s? Any marketer or business owner wants to know the answer, and for good reason. It’s information like this, also known as market research, that is used to determine the best way your product or service can be marketed.
Market research is also defined by the techniques used to gather qualitative or quantitative information on customers. These techniques include organizing focus groups and interviews, issuing surveys, and using secondary reports on consumer behavior, opinions, and demographics. Conducting market research requires a specific skill set in analysis and research, not to mention the costs in both time and expenditure are high. As a result, companies will outsource market research efforts to large firms or firms that specialize in their industry. However, if there’s one market research technique to understand, it’s market segmentation.
As opposed to marketing to a mass audience, businesses can find more success by marketing to select segments, or groups of customers that share a need for your product. That is the purpose of market segmentation and it comprises three practices: segmentation, targeting and positioning.
Segmentation includes identifying the target market that will be segmented, selecting and applying the bases to be used, and creating customer profiles based on the data gathered. An example of a segmentation base could be a demographic characteristic − age, gender, income − or a behavioral characteristic − needs-based, usage, purchase frequency −.
Next is targeting, which is choosing selected segments and determining how to market towards them. Businesses can choose which types of marketing channels to use, and then craft specific messaging for each segment.
Lastly, there is positioning. Positioning is how the customer perceives your product or service compared to the competition. When done effectively, it can help establish an advantage over the competition and differentiate your product. Positioning should ultimately convince the target segments that your product is better than others in its class.
While market segmentation categorizes customers into specific groups, a buyer persona uses the data gathered from each group to create a fictionalized target customer. It allows marketers and business owners to easily visualize the customer they’re targeting and better customize their product positioning.
What kind of information should go into a buyer persona? It can be information relevant to their buying decision, such as income, needs, and objections. It can also include fictional details, like habits, skills, and attitudes to make the persona more realistic. For instance, a persona named “Pam the Professional” is categorized as an upper middle class working mother, who needs to keep her work and family organized and her main challenge is a lack of free time. Therefore, Pam the Professional would most likely appeal to messaging that is brief but bold and positioning the product as a time-saver.
Marketing is a data-driven process, but a human one, too. Buyer personas help to create personalized marketing plans that will better resonate with the target customer segments.
The must-haves of your marketing plan.
By now, you know the principles of targeting customers and creating segments from market research.
Next, learn what goes into a marketing strategy.
Marketing is meant to reach your business goals, but how can you prove that your marketing efforts helped to reach your goals? That is where measurements and analytics come in. Create measurements your department or agency can accomplish and determine which analytics you can use to track those measurements.
For example, if your company wants to increase the sale of a specific product by 10 percent in one quarter, one of the measurements could be to increase sales of this product through social media posts by 25 percent. Your key analytics, in this case, would be the engagements, website visits, and website conversions from social media posts. Tools like Google Analytics, Hootsuite, SEMrush, and BuzzSumo are just a few of many tools used for tracking analytics related to various marketing measurements. Whatever the key measurement may be, it should at the very least be realistic and quantifiable.
Any solid marketing strategy is made up of marketing tactics. Tactics are the action items of the strategy and there are many different ones business owners and marketers can do. They vary in effort and cost, and some are better than others depending on the key measurements. Some of the most common ones are digital-based, as that has become the standard marketing method. Online content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing and search engine marketing make up the majority of marketing tactics practiced by businesses today since they can be produced by the business itself − also known as owned media −. However, paid media tactics, such as television commercials or podcast sponsorships, are still utilized as part of an overall marketing strategy but less frequently than owned media.
In addition, it’s important to consider your employees’ skills and their time when determining your marketing tactics. Oftentimes in-house marketers specialize in a particular skill or simply don’t have the bandwidth to accomplish all the tactics at once. Using third-party vendors, like a digital marketing agency, is a recommended route for company’s just beginning their marketing efforts or simply need more staff to carry out the work. An agency can also act as a strategic partner to your company by offering new ideas or tools to reach your business goals with your budget in mind.
A brand to a business is not just a memorable slogan or campaign. It represents the very essence of the company and how the customer experiences interacting with the company. Companies like Apple, Nike, or Tesla don’t have strong brands because they are successful. They are, in part, successful because they have a strong brand.
That is because brands can sell more than just the business product or service itself. They can help to sell an image, a mission, or a cause that is bigger than the company itself. If customers can align with what the brand sells, they are more likely to align with the company’s offerings, and recommend them to others.
That is the value of branding in a marketing strategy. Building a brand, though, won’t happen overnight.
It often takes years to build one and needs consistency in imagery, messaging, tone, as well as in other areas that customers experience, such as customer service and product design. Marketers and business owners must make sure the brand strategy permeates through the company operations and culture. Businesses often begin defining their brand by differentiating themselves to competitors, telling the story of how the business was founded, or establishing the company’s mission and values. These methods work to create a foundation, but the more difficult endeavor is consistently building a powerful, attractive brand.
If branding is new to you, many digital marketing firms can help with brand strategy and positioning.
You’re ready to get started!
You’ve read through the handbook of everlasting marketing principles with the basic concepts, practices, and tactics used by marketers today. Don’t let this new knowledge go to waste!
Take a chance at crafting your own marketing strategy, doing market research, or getting in touch with a marketing agency that can help do all of the above and more for your business.
At Trifactor, we merge creative design, digital and video to bring you the best results.