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For any business to flourish and ultimately be profitable, a good marketing strategy needs to be employed. Every company or business organization undertakes a variety of activities in order to meet their primary organizational goal, that of making profits. Marketing is a process that begins right from the inception of the product design till the time the consumer actually buys the product. As a matter of fact, it does not end when the consumer purchases the product, as after-sales service and customer relationship are crucial factors for building a strong customer base.

What is Marketing?

☛ Philip Kotler, the father of modern marketing management, defines it as, "Satisfying needs and wants through an exchange process". Another definition is, "The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating, and satisfying customer requirements profitably".

☛ It is clear from these definitions that marketing needs to be aimed at somebody. It cannot be generic in nature, and it needs to have a purpose. When the maker of a luxury car develops a strategy, he/she is aware of the age and income bracket in which the customers are going to fall in.

☛ So, the maker alters it to suit the needs and expectations of this target segment of customers. Marketing revolves around one person, the customer. So, firstly, one should thoroughly identify the needs of the customer and then subsequently satisfy those needs.

☛ Marketing strategies today have become very customer-centric, and this is very different from olden days. The reason for this is the vast amount of choices and options that the customer has today, coupled with the large amount of disposable income in their hands. This has increased the competitiveness between sellers vastly, and the only way they can entice customers is through effective marketing.

The Marketing Process

☛ Marketing is a process that begins from the very day a product is conceptualized. The features, attributes, and benefits of the product have to suit the needs and wants of the customer perfectly, and this has to be kept in mind by the marketer.

☛ This is the reason why the biggest companies spend so much money on research and development and constant innovation of their products. The key elements of a good marketing strategy are innovation and competitive advantage.

☛ Companies that constantly strive to be better than their competitors, by consistently offering new and innovative products, are the ones that enjoy the majority of the market share in their particular industry.

☛ Once the product has been developed and manufactured, the customers need to be made aware of the availability of the product. This is done through large-scale advertising and direct selling. Utilizing various mediums, like the Internet, TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, journals, billboards, etc., grant the seller the platform to reach out to the masses at the same time.

☛ Highlighting the product's utility and novelty is the key element. Providing the customers with various kinds of discounts, subsidies, and free merchandise are also great options for attracting customers.

☛ Once the product has been sold, the marketer's job is seemingly over, as his/her basic task was to ensure that the customer purchases his/her product. This is as far from the truth as possible. The name of the game is retention of customers, as rivals are always looking to steal customers away from any business.

☛ By focusing on customer satisfaction, a company is retaining its power over the customer and this can be achieved only by good after-sales service, prompt complaint solutions, informing about future offers and products, and overall customer relationship management (CRM). Before venturing out to get more customers, it is important to build a solid base to retain and satisfy the existing customers.

The Four P's

The concept of the 4 P's of the marketing mix is a timeless technique of categorizing the various strategies. By keeping these 4 P's in mind, any marketer can adopt and reap the benefits. Failure to adhere to these can result in failure for the organization.

Product
The most important thing is the product. It has to be useful and innovative. There has to be a need for this specific type of product in the minds of the customer. Product engineering focuses on making the best possible products in order to satisfy the customer.

Price
The next most important thing is the price of the product. If a product is overpriced, customers will search and opt for cheaper alternatives. The quality of the product should be worth the price and vice versa.

Place
This refers to the channels of distribution of the product and developing channel partners and reliable suppliers so as to make the product reach the customer as quickly and easily as possible.

Promotion
Lastly, comes the promotional activities that are undertaken by the seller. Making their presence felt in the market and using various means to do this is a key element of most strategies.

At the end of the day, every business is unique and has their own pros and cons. You need to plan and develop your strategy based on the size of your business, the economics, the number of competitors, the demographics of customers, and the area of operation. Strategies evolve as the customer's tastes and preferences change. As a result, this is a field of study that is more artistic in nature than scientific. The principles of marketing remain the same, but the subtleties and nuances change constantly. The most important thing to remember though is that marketing never ends. Striving for perfection is the ultimate goal, and once this process is successfully set into place, profits start rolling in, and the company's goals and objectives start getting realized.