In this article we shall try to define Marketing and appreciate the basic dimensions of this function of Management.
Marketing is the management process through which goods and services move from concept to the customer. It includes the coordination of four elements called the 4 P's of Marketing, also called the Marketing Mix, which involves the following:
- Identification, selection and development of a product. The product includes goods and services which are designed to satisfy the needs of target customers.
- Determination of its price. Pricing is an important consideration as it communicates the value for money proposition to the customer.
- Selection of a distribution channel to reach the customer's place. Nowadays, the conventional wholesale and retail channels are being supported/replaced by online distribution channels.
- Development and implementation of a strategy to promote the product. Promotion is required to reach out to the target segment. It includes advertising, sales promotion, direct marketing, public relations & publicity.
Focus on Customer Needs
Marketing is based on thinking about the business in terms of customer needs and their satisfaction. It is thus the process of identification of customer needs and delivering the desired satisfactions more effectively and efficiently than competition. Customer is the reason why Organizations exist and thus needs to be understood and catered to. Depending upon the type of customer, Marketing may be categorized into Consumer Marketing & Industrial Marketing.
Extended Marketing Mix in Services
The first four elements in the services marketing mix are the same as those in the traditional marketing mix. However, given the unique nature of services, there are three more elements of the services marketing mix :
- People: People are a defining factor in a service delivery process, since a service is inseparable from the person providing it. Thus, a restaurant is known as much for its food as for the service provided by its staff. The same is true of banks and department stores. Consequently, customer service training for staff has become a top priority for many organizations today.
- Process: The process of service delivery is crucial since it ensures that the same standard of service is repeatedly delivered to the customers. Therefore, most companies have a service blue print which provides the details of the service delivery process, often going down to even defining the service script and the greeting phrases to be used by the service staff.
- Physical Evidence: Since services are intangible in nature most service providers strive to incorporate certain tangible elements into their offering to enhance customer experience. Thus, there are hair salons that have well designed waiting areas often with magazines and plush sofas for patrons to read and relax while they await their turn. Similarly, restaurants invest heavily in their interior design and decorations to offer a tangible and unique experience to their guests.
Difference from Selling
Marketing is a spectrum of activities from market research to customer relationship management which create value for the customer. Selling is a part of the marketing spectrum focusing on exchange of goods & services for money. Hence Marketing is a broader and more inclusive term. Selling captures only the transactional part of Marketing, where customers pay money to get a desired good/service.
Marketing is based on establishing sustainable relationships with potential and existing customers. It is a promise made to customers for not just satisfying them, but delighting them. Infact, most of the organizations these days have a full fledged Customer Relationship Management function, which exclusively handles customer related issues & challenges.