Marketing isn’t just one facet of building a successful business: it’s the realm in which businesses live or die. Without good marketing, a business simply cannot succeed. Mark Cuban, who owns several entertainment companies as well as the Dallas Mavericks, is characteristically blunt about marketing’s role in commercial success: “No sales, no company.” Let’s review the fundamentals of good marketing:
There are plenty of different activities that fall under the umbrella of ‘marketing’ and marketing assistant jobs but they’re all intimately related to the products and/or services your company provides. Advertising is perhaps the most obvious example of marketing. The wider field also includes consumer research: these are the steps you take to better understand the wants and needs of your customers. Even product design falls within the scope of marketing, as the way you form your products dictates how well they can meet those wants and needs.
Many marketing professionals draw an interesting line: the sales act itself is one thing that falls outside the realm of marketing. The sale is the goal, the end result of marketing done well.
The strategic side of marketing includes all of the following activities:
- Identifying product needs. This is a matter of studying consumer behaviour and the marketplace performance of similar products.
- Creating new products and modifying existing ones to better align with the needs and wants of consumers.
- Identifying the most effective and persuasive ways to make potential customers aware of your product and influence their buying decisions.
- Building marketing campaigns, employing all of the information gathered in the steps above.
- Building better long-term customer relationships with follow-up campaigns and loyalty programs.
Marketing has an interesting relationship with consumer needs. It involves both studying them and, in certain cases, helping to create them. All effective marketing has to start with is a thorough understanding of your potential customers. A famous negative example in the 21st century is the deeply-misguided attempt by US deodorant manufacturers to expand into China. The companies making the attempt failed to recognise the significant biological and cultural differences between these new customers and their existing ones. Not only are body odour issues in China different on a chemical level, but they are also viewed very differently in a social context. Chinese consumers think of sweating as a healthy, naturally purifying activity and have none of the social stigmas about it that American consumers do.
Proper marketing education stresses that marketing cannot create new needs on its own. The distinction becomes rather subtle when you consider the ability of a good marketing campaign to increase the awareness and desirability of a product. More awareness can indirectly create a need for the product. This is one of the fundamental jobs of marketing, and as it is practised today, it has some common modern strategies:
- Demonstrating or creating scarcity. Apple famously took steps in this direction by holding back shipments of iPhone 5 for two weeks after announcing the device’s release.
- Creating a feeling of community. Many products launch by inviting a select audience in for an advanced look before the general public. Sometimes consumers are invited to participate in product development and the launch process.
- Speaking directly to consumers via social media. Modern technology allows brands to spread information and respond to comments, both positive and negative ones, with tremendous speed.
Using Product Development to Respond to Consumers
Strong companies don’t leave their products to fade away after being released. Instead, they remain engaged with their products as they are sold, supporting them, modifying them, and improving them. This is another form of marketing at which Apple excels. They update their software frequently and are scrupulously transparent about what they are releasing. The wealth of information engages with customers and keeps them tied to the company. Apple is a leader in multiple industries when it comes to customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
Cutting the Distance Between Brand and Audience
The rise of social media has been leveraged significantly by successful companies. They have embraced these tools and used them to interact constructively with both current and potential future customers. Oreo is a useful example of intelligent social media use – AdWeek rated their customer interaction as especially productive. The brand ran a series of Vine videos that substituted Oreo cookies for the protagonists in cheeky re-imaginings of classic horror movies.
Agile Response to Consumer Preferences
Companies can foster more loyalty and brand satisfaction by using multiple outlets to respond quickly to consumer preferences. Netflix is notable for its use of other media (like The New York Times) in raising consumer awareness by publishing news about the brand’s upcoming offerings there.