Almost every business on the planet sets out with the primary objective of making money. This is generally done by manufacturing some form of product, or offering a service, and then charging customers money for it.
First of all, it is a very rare case where a company can offer a product or service that is truly unique and cannot be provided by anybody else. This means that your company will be contesting with other businesses that sell a similar product and you will both be trying to earn money from the same customers, who only want to spend their money once.
Marketing is the primary tool used by modern organisations to draw prospective customers to do business with them and not with their rivals. It is a very broad topic that is affected by a great deal of internal and external factors, but when done well it can be the single business practice that could make or break a corporation. Any time spent on marketing will reap rewards, although spending this time correctly can yield extraordinary outcomes.
So where should you begin when constructing a marketing strategy for your own company? Well, every situation is different, and every business will have its own set of advantages and flaws that must be taken into consideration, but there is a marketing principle that can be applied to almost any company to be used as a marketing platform.
The Marketing Mix
The marketing mix was a phrase that was first coined during the 1950’s and is a phrase that is used to express the fundamental building blocks of any marketing strategy. It reflects the fact that marketing is not a straightforward, blunt-edged business tool, but rather a delicate balance of different elements of business operations.
The term was later built upon to include the idea of “four P’s” that described the critical elements of the marketing mix. The formalisation of these P’s made it very clear for business managers and marketers to quickly relate the elements of marketing to the strengths of their own companies, and by doing so could very quickly form a tailored and efficient marketing strategy. The four P’s are Product, Price, Place and Promotion.
Our business already sells a profitable collection of wheelchair hoist products however we still use fresh promotional suggestions to improve our revenue numbers.
Whilst every aspect of the marketing mix is a necessity, the “product” element mentioned as one of the four P’s is perhaps the most crucial of all. It identifies the physical product or intangible service that your company will be selling, and at the end of the day it is the reason that buyers are going to spend money with you. If this part is not correctly managed then your company will find it hard to make it through.
Many people do not think that marketing has any place to play when it comes to the actual product that your business is selling. In fact, the typical train of thought very often bears the exact opposite sentiment. Surely it should be the opposite way around – your manufacturing department creates a product for sale and then it is the job of the marketing department to find ways to sell it, right?
Take the computer software market as an example. There are many well-known brands of both operating system as well as software application products on the market already, and since the market is relatively well saturated it would be very tough (and expensive) to “take on the big boys”.
Rather than developing an operating system and then trying to craft a marketing strategy to rival the likes of Microsoft or Apple, it would be far more effective to look at what types of product are sought after in the current marketplace, and how feasible it would be to manufacture and sell them. By being mindful of the marketing mix early on in your product development period you can avoid business dead-ends at a later time.
Once your goods have been designed and created it is still a critical skill to be able to objectively evaluate your own products to recognise the reasons that a customer should buy your product rather than a competitors’.
Another form of this part of the marketing mix is known as product variation and is typically used to either prolong the lifecycle of a product currently in the market, or to make your new product attractive to as many customers as possible. Again, this technique can be applied at all stages of product development.
The motor industry uses this technique very effectively by offering various engines, trim packages and interior options with the cars that they sell. They use the marketing mix to good effect to sell their own products in an incredibly competitive marketplace.
To maintain a standard corporate image a business ought to redesign their web presence an example is stockings and heels which echo colours, fonts and also images associated with their branding.
Another important factor in the marketing mix concerns the price of your products or services. This isn’t a simple case of performing market research to determine the highest price that your customers would spend (although that can be a handy tool to use), but rather making use of the price of your products as a strategic tool designed to achieve any particular objectives your company has. The potential advantages of an effective pricing strategy are surprisingly large!
Although it may seem obvious, it is still worth noting that price has always been, and probably always will be, one of the crucial factors that shoppers take into account when they are making a purchase. It is also worth noting that customers don’t constantly consider the cheapest price to be the best value.
There are many questions that you need to ask yourself when devising a good pricing plan, key among which are the price sensitivity of your clients, what your rivals are doing and how can pricing boost your own profits. From a strategy point of view though, pricing can be covered by two primary principals; price skimming and penetration pricing.
The principal idea driving price skimming is to make as much cash as possible from the segment of the market which is price-insensitive and are going to be willing to spend a large amount of money to get a product or service early on.
This pricing strategy is very often used in the consumer electronics market where customers will often eagerly await the launch of a new mobile phone or computer games console. Makers could set nearly any price they wanted to and there would still be a loyal base of customers that would pay it.
Penetration pricing is at the other end of the pricing spectrum, and is tailored towards gaining a large market share at a short-term cost so that financial benefits can be earned long into the future. It can be a high risk strategy, but when employed correctly it can setup revenue streams for many years to come. When setting a price for penetration it is still important to not give a bad impression of your product by aiming for too low a figure.
Yet another thing to bear in mind is that “price” is the only part of the marketing mix that will generate income for a business. The other members of the four P’s will all cost money to produce or undertake. So it is even more essential to get your pricing strategy right.
To optimise our website for google marketing we selected large childrens bean bags as an aimed phrase since it relates to our business and what we do.
Place is the component of the marketing mix that is often overlooked by companies, but it’s still an important part of selling your product successfully. In a nutshell, it describes the method in which you deliver your product to your consumer, and subsequently how you receive money from them.
The most typical ramifications of place-based marketing are the physical locations in which your products are sold. For the vast majority of consumer products, this includes the distribution network between your production centres and retailers or other outlets around the world. Since distribution of a physical product costs money it is crucial to identify your own priorities and adapt your distribution network appropriately.
With the increasing use of the Internet by your prospective customers, marketing techniques have had to consider how they use the Internet to help deliver their products. By using the Internet as a place of contact (or even as a complete distribution channel in download-based markets such as MP3s) companies are now able to reach out to a large pool of potential customers.
When you say the word “marketing”, many people immediately think of the promotional aspect of the marketing mix, although as we have seen, this is only one branch of a more complete system. Promotion can be employed on a very individual basis or as a mass communication instrument, and whilst it can be a costly undertaking it is often an important one.
Advertising is one of the most typical forms of promotion. Classically it would be done by posting on billboards, creating short clips for TV and radio or by physically distributing flyers or leaflets to potential customers. With the coming of the information age we have seen a great increase in promotion via e-mail and the Internet, or simply as targeted advertising materials posted through your front door. The potential for individualised advertising has never been so great.
Another important part of promotion involves branding, which may not necessarily yield more sales directly, but goes back to one of the initial functions of marketing; getting customers to choose your product over those of your rivals. When all other pieces of the marketing mix are equal it can be branding that swings a customer’s decision.
Putting it into Practice
As previously mentioned each business is different and will have different marketing requirements. By using a balance of the four P’s reviewed above you can take an effective view of your own marketing strategy.