What is Marketing?
Marketing is often confused as a synonym for “advertising.” As a student, teacher, and practitioner of marketing, I have learned that marketing is much bigger than that. Marketing is about the heart, soul, and core of your business. In academia, we use the phrase “Four P’s of Marketing” to describe the different functions and aspects that the word encompasses. We use this phrase, partly because we like to use alliteration to create categories, and partly because it actually does a decent job of reminding our students about the key functions of marketing. The four P’s include Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.
The “product” phase of Marketing is all about making sure that our idea doesn’t suck. Let’s face it: not every idea is a good one (I know because I have had lots of bad ideas that I assumed would be great). By examining our ideas, we can eliminate a lot of early headaches and missed opportunities. Through marketing, we explore simple improvements and changes that can help turn our ideas into a home run. We can focus on the core aspects of our ideas, remove the fluff, and refine what is left in order to produce the best chance of achieving our goals.
Great! We have an awesome product or service. Now, what do we charge for it? Well, as much as possible! But how much is that exactly? While guessing is always an option, marketing provides us with tools to at least make it an educated guess. We do this through things like cost analysis and a competitive market analysis where we study similar ideas and their pricing structure. We then decide where we want to be within our competitor’s price range. For example, do we want to undercut the competition to gain mass-market share or do we want to position ourselves on the high end to demonstrate our superior quality?
The next question is how and where do we sell it (Place). Marketing helps us explore the best options for bringing our idea to the market. Will we offer it online? If so, through retailers, such as Amazon, or our own website? Or will bring it to local retailers? If we are opening our own brick and mortor location, where is the best location in town for it? If we are a service provider, do we need a physical location or simply a strong web presence? Marketing allows us to examine all of our options in order to answer the most important question of all: where are our customers already looking for what we provide? That is, after all, the best place to be.
The fourth and final “P” of Marketing is all about advertising (aka Promotion) and does not happen by accident. It must be planned, coordinated, and well-implemented. The Promotional function of marketing reminds us that simply building it does not mean that the customers will come. Without promotion, we leave our success up to chance. While every business does involve some level of gambling (risk), proper promotion allows us, at the very least, to count the cards or, at its best, to sit in the dealer’s seat and control the whole game.
This has been a very brief overview of Marketing but don’t worry – we will dive deeper into the Four P’s of Marketing and much more as we explore this exciting topic together.