Marketing is always evolving and changing, influenced by trends and consumer insights. But one thing remains constant: marketing is an important part of a business’s success, particularly when their focus is on selling a consumer-facing product or service. In recent years, digital marketing has exploded in popularity, merging with traditional marketing methods to create a massive impact on how businesses communicate with consumers. This means marketers need to be on their toes to keep up with all the changes, which can be challenging—but being a marketer can also be thrilling and rewarding!
According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is 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. In layman’s terms, marketing is the practice of communicating about goods, services, and company mandates to the public at large. It's about meeting consumer wants, increasing customer satisfaction, introducing new products, and overall achieving connections to consumers. In the case of companies that are selling a new product or sharing a service, marketing is used to share information about that quality product and how it can support consumer wants and needs. But marketing can also be used long-term to communicate a company’s mandate, establish their brand, and build trust.
Marketing is used by every type of business. If you’ve ever heard of Nike, Coke, Disney, and the like, it’s because of marketing. Similarly, whenever a big movie comes out, it’s accompanied by a huge marketing push to make sure consumers know about it. Financial institutions use marketing to get the word out about their offerings, and even city services such as water and power departments use marketing to offer support and business insight to their clientele. Fast food companies use marketing strategy and market research to evaluate what kinds of food to offer to satisfy customers. Marketing serves as a powerful tool to help support a business’s success by keeping their clientele in the loop on what they have to offer.
Putting together a solid marketing plan relies on the 7 P’s, which are:
Product: The first and arguably most important step is figuring out what exactly you’re selling. Whether it’s a product or service, every aspect of your message should revolve around this “P” so you know how to position it in the marketplace and figure out the best methods for sharing information about it.
Price: How much does your product or service cost? Is it a one-time fee, or is there a subscription model? Are there discounts or promotions that customers can take advantage of? It’s important to be very clear about the pricing structure of a product or service so consumers aren’t taken by surprise. Market research is key in helping determine the price for a product.
Promotion: This “P” encompasses all the activities that help get the word out about a product or service, such as launch parties, direct marketing, influencer partnerships, in-store promos, live streams, product placements, collaborations and other like-minded events. Effective marketing strategy relies heavily on promotion to understand how to connect promotion with customers.
Place: While referring to both the physical and theoretical place a product takes up space in a consumer’s life, marketers should pay close attention to where a physical product is placed in-store to grab consumer attention. In the theoretical approach, marketers should have a good idea of how the product or service fits into a customer’s lifestyle and meshes with their purchasing patterns so they can be targeted during an optimal buying cycle.
People: Marketing a product is about meeting a consumer need, but it’s also about how those consumers communicate their feelings about that product. Referrals are a powerful way to get the word out, which is why online reviews have become a massive entity. The other part of the “people” equation is how the people associated with the product interact with intended consumers. This means customer service representatives, salespeople, and even email communications and chat bots. Everyone should be on the same page about how to share information about the product or service that’s being marketed.
Process: Another key aspect of a marketing plan is determining how the product or service gets to a customer and whether or not there are components of the delivery that need to be communicated to support brand awareness. Social responsibility is a critical part of processes. For example, does it come in eco-friendly packaging, shipped with carbon-neutral methods, or other key points that could strengthen brand loyalty? Additionally, purchasing and shipping information should be clear so the consumer knows what to expect when ordering.
Physical Evidence: What is the experience of interacting with your product like for the consumer? This information should be included across multiple communications such as product packaging, store displays, website content, and even social media posts.
Marketing concepts are related to the strategy used by marketers to appeal to customers, but they also help ice out the competition by maximizing profit through increased sales. The five marketing concepts are:
Production Concept: One of the oldest marketing concepts in the book, Production Concept refers to consumers who prefer products that are inexpensive and readily available. The more approachable and easy-to-purchase a product is, the better chance a marketer has of selling it to a customer.
Product Concept: Whenever you see a line around the Apple store that’s a mile long, that’s due to Product Concept. This concept is based on a consumer’s thirst for quality, performance, and innovative features. This can mean continual improvements and upgrades to an existing product (such as the various iterations of the iPhone), or it could refer to something new to market that breaks the mold. This marketing strategy is crucial for success in selling.
Selling Concept: Some companies go all-out on their marketing and promotion efforts to the point of saturation. The selling concept approach is focused on creating sales transactions when a company believes a consumer won’t buy enough of the product unless there’s a large push behind it. As a result, the focus is on quantity of customers rather than quality.
Marketing Concept: This concept tends to be a marketing sweet spot, as it focuses on addressing customer needs and wants and fulfilling them—often better than their competitors do. Here, the customer—rather than the product—becomes the focal point, but the product becomes the solution that the customer has been searching for.
Societal Marketing Concept: This is another sweet spot of marketing concepts, as it addresses consumer and societal needs in equal measure. The idea behind the societal marketing concept it is that the product or service will deliver value to a customer while also improving societal well-being. For example, think of eco-friendly, low-waste or recyclable products.
A Marketing Mix is an element of marketing management that is made up of several of the 7 P’s—namely, product, price, place, and promotion. The Mix refers to the foundational model that businesses use to pursue their marketing objectives, with the arrangement of these P’s playing a major part in the success of a company’s marketing campaigns. Specific marketing tactics are created surrounding these elements and ideally result in a strong consumer connection that translates directly to sales.
Using the Marketing Mix approach, businesses rely on a variety of methods to reach their intended consumer. Some examples of outreach can include creating a web landing page or entire website for a product, using SEO terms to encourage high search engine placements; purchasing ad space on billboards, in magazines, on radio and television; and even doing trade shows and in-store demonstrations to drum up consumer interest. Using a variety of approaches allows a business to spread the word about their product or service and gain a greater hold on the attention of their intended customer.
The term “target market” relates directly to an ideal consumer group as identified by a business selling a product or service. These groups can be identified by income, gender, demographics, lifestyle, geography, and a variety of other factors to help marketers devise a communications plan that can speak directly to their desired consumer.
Marketers often use data to determine their target market, poring over purchasing patterns, spending habits, and even competitor information to create a complete picture of their ideal consumer. Using this information, marketers can design their outreach plans to speak directly to this consumer to ensure their product or service is being presented to the individuals who can benefit most from it.
Branding is another important tool in a marketer’s toolbox, as it helps create a business’ identity—and ideally, cements itself in the consumer psyche. Think of the Nike swoosh, the Coke white-on-red wave, the unmistakable Disney font, usually in front of a cut-out of a castle. And then there’s the golden arches of McDonalds, which are forever burned in people’s brains whether they like it or not.
Branding can also include characters, such as Chester Cheetah, Tony the Tiger, and—you guessed it—Ronald McDonald. A business’s name can also be its brand—Glossier is an example of this—and even taglines or specific terms can count toward a company or product’s brand. Ultimately, branding serves to create an indelible connection with consumers, with the hope that said connection translates into sales.