Marketing is one of the most misunderstood terms in business. Far too many businesses (and people) believe that ‘marketing’ consists of the individual tactics; for example, logos, websites, or social media. Marketing, however, refers to the strategies that are required to achieve your business goals.
Marketing is based on the premise of delivering mutual value. You provide value to your customers clients, who in exchange provide value to you through payment for your goods or services. Ultimately, marketing should enable you to build the capacity of your business, so you can continue to deliver your products or services. Success starts with strategy and before you execute any tactics, you need a marketing plan to ensure consistency and a return on marketing investment.
Start with the Marketing Mix
The Marketing Mix is used to ensure consistency and helps embed a marketing approach across your business. The Marketing Mix, otherwise known as the 7Ps, includes the aspects that you should consider in developing your marketing plan. The Marketing Mix clearly shows that marketing is more than just tactics, as it explores all aspects of your business.
While each element of the marketing mix warrants its own section, an overview is provided below:
Marketing is a holistic function that ensures consistency across your entire business.
Your Products or Services
The products or services form the purpose of your business. Marketing ensures that your products or services are relevant to your target markets. For example, consider how you can customise your products or services to address specific customer needs, or whether there are ways to cater to new markets.
This component of the marketing mix demonstrates that there is more to running a business than simply offering products or services, you need to consider how to make your business relevant to your potential customers.
Consider the people involved with your business and the roles they have in service delivery. All staff and other stakeholders should understand the direction of your business and how they can strengthen the customer experience.
How can the interaction between employees and customers support your value proposition? Make sure that the interaction with your team reinforces the customer experience you want to create.
Pricing is often an area that many businesses undermine or view as the sole lever to influence sales. Your marketing plan should consider how your pricing is determined, relative to your competitors and the needs of your target markets.
Do not resort to pricing discounts, as this can quickly lead to your business becoming unsustainable. Pricing is one component of the marketing mix and not the only factor you should be considering.
This component looks at the places you use to distribute your products or services. If you have distributors, or retail locations, ensure that elements remain consistent with your core messages. In addition, make sure that your web and online presence reinforces the value proposition that has been developed through your marketing plan.
The placement of your products and services consider both physical locations and virtual (such as your website). The aim is to ensure consistency as you use these mediums to reach your target markets.
If you are providing services then it worth considering how you can provide a tangible outcome to reinforce the outcomes you have created. The inclusion of physical evidence can help strengthen the delivery of your services and provide a point of difference when compared to competitors.
This component considers the processes that are involved in ensuring that your products or services reach your customers. These processes need to encompass the entire customer journey, how are they interacting with your business and what steps are taken to encourage purchases. For existing customers, how do you facilitate repeat purchasing and enhance loyalty?
Streamlining processes and providing a consistent experience help facilitate customer loyalty and improve efficiencies.
Promotion is often is the area that receives the greatest amount of attention in the marketing mix, but needs to be considered in the context of the other six elements. The promotional aspect considers the communication methods and messages you use to reach your target markets. Like all other components, these communication messages must be consistent with each of the elements of the marketing mix.
For example, the messages used for impulse purchases will be entirely distinct to highly involved products or services, that require a longer lead time to make a decision.
Always be consistent
Utilising the Marketing Mix enables you to develop a consistent approach and to foster confidence with your target markets. Inconsistency creates confusion and results in barriers that hamper purchases and customer loyalty.
Developing a marketing plan reinforces the need for this consistency, ultimately saving you time and money since each element reinforces your value proposition. This is why it is critical that you undertake a marketing plan prior to executing individual activities.