The term marketing has long been loosely associated with the principal activities
of promoting and advertising, and has often been narrowly defined, even separated
from the sales function. The contemporary business approach, however, embraces
a broader definition: "The generation of a profit by managing the resources
and activities which ascertain and fulfill the needs and desires of people
who buy products and services."
Obviously, this broad definition includes most functions and activities which
take place in the business environment, and it is easy to see the theoretical
value of marketing as an umbrella under which to integrate and manage all
business activities. Specifically, marketing addresses four major aspects
of taking a product to market:
1) The product:
all its characteristics (size, color, quality, category, etc.) and
how to modify it to better meet the needs and desires of the consumer
2) The price: where to set it and when in order
to maximize sales and profits
3) Distribution: how to get the product most
effectively into the hands of the consumer
4) Promotion: how to motivate the consumer to
purchase the product
What Can Marketing Do for Your Business?
In the sophisticated marketplace of the twenty-first century, that question
is so basic as to be irrelevant. Every business owner and manager knows that
marketing drives business success, and every business practices marketing
in some form. More significant questions might be: "Am I making use of
marketing in the right way to get where I want to go?"or "How effectively
and efficiently am I using my marketing dollars?" Unfortunately, for
most businesses, the answers to these questions are "No," and "Not
very." There are solutions, however, and they begin (as most solutions
do) with good planning.
Common Sense and the Power of Planning
The process I use for developing marketing plans consists of 6 steps:
1) Situation Analysis
Before planning begins, a comprehensive picture of the marketing environment
is needed: the product line, distribution system, market trends, competition,
sales force, current communications activities, perceptions of the company
by suppliers, customers, prospects and employees. This is accomplished primarily
through informal interviews with company management, sales personnel, customers,
prospects and other market influences. This is usually the most costly and
time consuming phase of the project, but it is absolutely essential.
When the whole marketing picture is well in hand, research findings are presented
to the client, and together, based on these findings, we establish realistic,
measurable objectives for the planning period.
3) Audience Analysis
Based on the research and the newly set objectives, we determine the demographics
and psychographics of the target audience (often specifiers, purchasers and
other influences on the buying decision).
4) Strategy Development
For each objective specific strategies are established which will lead to
the achievement of those objectives.
For each strategy, specific activities which will support the strategy are
line itemized. This includes proposed budgets and time parameters.
For each objective a measurement strategy or tool is proposed (this may be
included in the implementation section). The marketing plan, as the name suggests, is a comprehensive guide to implementing
a marketing program. The benefits that accrue to management are, at minimum,
the same that accrue for the planning of any activity - efficiency, effectiveness
and cost savings. A well-conceived and executed marketing plan can hold many
other benefits for the astute manager as well.