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Part of Western Governors University

December 13, 2019

Business

What is marketing and why does it matter?

Group gathered around table doing marketing

When many people think of the term “marketing” they think of a TV ad or a billboard on the side of the road. But the purpose marketing goes far beyond that. According to the American Association of Marketing, 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 the business world today marketing strategy is critical to achieving anything. Whatever industry you are in, wherever you are located, and whatever your job title, it’s important to understand this strategy. That’s why most business degrees require a class or two in this subject, no matter what your specific degree program is. Having a grasp on the purpose behind marketing helps you utilize it to your advantage when it comes to your company.

The purpose of marketing.

There are many purposes behind marketing, and it’s important to keep all of these in mind when you make campaigns and programs.

  1. Establishing the brand of a business. This is an important purpose that helps you show to customers out there what your business is all about.

  2. Targeting relevant consumers. This purpose means utilizing right efforts can help you determine who your ideal consumers are, and get a message specifically to them.

  3. Generate leads and sales. This purpose involves making the right kind of campaign so you can attract consumers and quickly get them to buy.

  4. Develop an identity or value for consumers. Your marketing strategy can help you establish what you want your company to be known for. It can also help you catch the eye of consumers by showing them what value you can offer them.

Marketing strategy can sometimes be confused with other related, but different practices. These are advertising and public relations (PR). While similar in the overall idea of promoting your business to customers and clients, these three types of promotion and communication are very different. 

Marketing vs. public relations.

Public relations or PR is focused on creating a positive public image or reputation for an entire organization. This is often done through brand standards, connections with the media, pictures of positive interactions, and more. Marketing is very different in that it is more focused on promotion for a specific product or service, and the end goal is to get someone to purchase. The end goal of public relations is often for people to have a positive interaction or feeling about an organization as a whole.

Marketing vs. advertising.

Advertising falls under the umbrella of marketing, but is focused on making a product or service known to potential customers. Advertising is a necessary part of a marketing campaign, but it’s only a small part. Advertising is usually the direct focus on getting a customer to purchase, while the larger marketing campaign involves motivation and interaction as well.

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The four P's of marketing.

The four P’s of marketing are commonly taught and fairly well known. Sometimes called the marketing mix, the four P’s are the key categories you need to consider when creating a campaign. The four p’s are product, price, place, and promotion.

  • Product. Product is the good or service that a company is selling. The product should meet a customer need, and be compelling so customers think they truly need to have it. Marketers need to understand the life cycle of a product, which is the progression of the good or service through the market. Product life cycles have four stages: introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. Every product goes through this sales life cycle. Marketers need to understand how specific products go through this cycle in order to market it appropriately at different times. The type of product a company offers will have variability in price, where it should be placed, and how it should be promoted. Marketers should understand the best options for their specific products in order to market it correctly.

  • Price. Price refers to the cost a company charges for a product. Marketers have to connect the product’s real value, as well as its perceived value in order to make revenue. They have to consider supply costs, seasonal discounts, and competitor pricing. Business executives may want to raise or lower the price to make the product seem more accessible or more luxurious, increasing sales. Another aspect of price is determining when sales and discounts should happen. A discount can draw in more customers, but it can also give a different feel to the availability of a product. 

  • Place. Place refers to where a company tries to sell a product, and how it delivers the product. This involves the right kind of distribution and sales tactics as wellThe ultimate goal is to get products in front of as many consumers as possible. In some cases the place is a certain store, but it can also be a store display. In other cases placement is about a TV show, movie, or website. 

  • Promotion. Promotion involves advertising, public relations, and promoting strategies. Promotion ties in the other three P’s of marketing to help get the product in the exact right place for customers to see it, which can be online or offline, and get the right price. 

Overhead photo looking down onto a conference table strewn about with laptops, graphs, and people's hands.

Types of marketing.

Marketing takes on many different forms, and many people specialize in specific types of marketing. Some of the kinds of marketing you may encounter include:

  • Content. Content is focused on creating the content that will interest your target customer. This can be through blogs, web pages, social media, ebooks, and more. 

  • Guerilla. This type involves placing brand elements in high-traffic physical locations so you reach your audience in a creative, but cost-effective, way. This is a great way to grow brand awareness. 

  • Influencer. Influencer involves using a person who has an existing following on social platforms. They are often considered experts in their niches and have a great connection to a specific audience. 

  • Digital. Digital covers all the marketing efforts that happen on the internet. Many other types of marketing like email, social platforms, and video fall under digital marketing. 

  • Email. Email involves sending newsletters or messages to people who are subscribers to your organization. You can use email marketing to nurture potential customers as well, or increase your distribution efforts.

  • Brand. This type involves shaping how people perceive your organization. Good brand marketing uses emotions and storytelling, creativity, humor, and inspiration to get people to feel something about their organization. 

  • Field. Field helps the sales team learn the best way to sell their products through case studies, product overviews, competitor comparisons, and more.

  • Outbound. This method is the traditional method of marketing and involves ads, TV commercials, email blasts, direct mail, and more. 

  • Social media. Social media utilizes your various social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Posts and ads are top ways to utilize social media to increase your brand awareness, gain potential customers, and sell products. 

  • Search engine. Search engine marketing is often called SEM, and is how you promote content for search engines so your products are visible when people do research online. When users type in a certain keyword, SEM lets you show up as an ad at the top of the search engine. 

  • Video. Video utilizes your creativity to make videos and put them on your website, on YouTube, or on social media. This helps people get a unique view of your product and organization as a whole. 

The importance of marketing.

In today’s day and age, marketing is crucial for the success of any business. Some experts even say that the way you market a product is more important than the product itself! The right marketing strategy can be the difference between a product that captures an audience, and one that never makes it off the ground. 

If the idea of using strategy to help market products and attract customers interests you, marketing could be the perfect career path. For any business degree, an understanding of marketing and its value is vital to help you be successful. 

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