You might be asking yourself several questions at this point. Perhaps, What exactly is marketing? Is marketing art or science? Or maybe, What is the goal of marketing?
Hopefully I can shed some light on the topic by offering my perspective.
Definition 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." *
From this definition, I hope it is clear to you that successful marketing creates value for two or more parties so that each is satisfied. The definition goes much deeper than simply selling something to somebody, however. The definition demands an exchange and in this day and age when we no longer barter for goods or services and we have common currencies, that exchange is called a sale. The goal of marketing is to generate long-term sales through customer satisfaction. So while the goal of marketing at its most basic level is to sell something, this transaction should not result from trickery, deception or coersion rather both parties should emerge from the transaction highly satisfied. Satisfaction of both parties is an implicit aspect in the exchange relationship.
Marketing must understand both the needs & wants side of the equation and the Product, Ideas, & Services side of the equation. Not only must marketing fully understand both sides of the equation, but it must also effectively communicate the details of each in order to successfully bridge the gap between the two.
Here's a video role play that discusses marketing and social media:
Definition of Marketing Strategy:
Marketing Strategy is a set of specific ideas and actions that outline and guide decisions on the best or chosen way to create, distribute, promote, and price a product or service (manage the marketing mix variables).
More than just a transaction
Marketing is more than just making a sale. You should view your marketing efforts as a continuous process of creating and cultivating relationships. As a marketing professional, you must strive to apply an integrated marketing approach using the many marketing tools and channels available to you to gain not only market share but also gain a greater share of each customer.
What did Dave just say?
You must continue to create new customer relationships while gaining a greater share of each of those customers. This means that not only will you make a successful match between your products/services and the needs/wants of your market, but you will continue to maintain the relationship with your customers over the long-term. Throughout the relationship you will work hard to understand your customers' additional needs and wants better than anyone else so you can introduce them to more products, services, and ideas that meet more of their needs and wants. When you master this simple yet often overlooked concept, you will see your business grow faster and larger than you ever imagined.
Customer relationship management (CRM)
Once a customer is made, resources must be invested to maintain an ongoing, healthy, and profitable relationship with that customer. This is the true battle ground of Sales & Marketing professionals today. Reaching and acquiring a new customer is one thing, keeping the relationship healthy and strong over a long period of time is the mark of the true marketing professional concerned with the long term health of the organization. Obtaining new customers in the short-term is a challenge to be sure, but maintaining relationships with those customers over time is even more challenging and is absolutely crucial to the long term survival of your business.
Over the lifetime of involvement with the customer, value must be created for both parties in order for the relationship to prosper. In order to help create that value, we must realize customers are unique and must be treated differently. The more value you can create for your customer, the more he or she will continue conducting business with you. Some of the great thinkers in marketing today call this "customer loyalty". Others call it "the propensity to re-purchase". Whatever you call it, maintaining the customer relationship while continuously delivering value is essential to your business.
No two customers are alike
Customers each have their own unique needs and wants and they receive varying degrees of value from their relationship with you. When you no longer represent any value to them, they will stop conducting business with you.
Customers, likewise, also represent various levels of lifetime value to your business. You must identify your most valuable customers and devise ways to cater to them in order to keep them 'loyal' to you. If some of your customer relationships are not of mutual benefit and you identify zero or negative value customers, you must let them go or discontinue the relationship. Although this is a hard pill to swallow, smart marketers realize that continuing to invest resources into customers that do not provide a return on investment is detrimental to the long term success and survival of their business.
Let's continue our crash-course in marketing starting with the marketing plan and then continuing on with specific tactics that will enable you to establish and maintain customer relationships. Throughout the rest of this presentation I will use examples from actual marketing plans and campaigns, some of which I've created, as a way of illustrating the strategies and tactics I'll discuss with you.
* Marketing as defined by The American Marketing Association, 2007.
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