What is Marketing?

“Marketing is the process that companies use to get consumers interested in the products or services they're selling.” There. That’s a good starting point for a small business marketing discussion. The key word in that definition is “process,” because marketing involves a number of basic steps, including defining your target audience and pricing, promoting and selling your product. And speaking of selling.

That process includes several fundamental steps, including:

  • Defining your target audience(s), that is, who is most likely to buy your product or service
  • Determining which products and/or services your target audience is likely to buy
  • Setting a price for these products and/or services
  • Promoting your company and products/services via multiple means, including advertising, PR, digital/social media, etc.
  • Selling your product to the customers and prospects you’ve intrigued through your promotion efforts

If, after reading the bullet points above, you’ve found yourself thinking “I need a plan,” you’re spot on. In order for marketing efforts to be successful, even a small business must draw up a well-thought-out marketing plan. That plan should include research and analysis as well as definitive objectives, strategy and tactics. (You can find information on creating a marketing plan here .)

How Marketing Helps Sales ?

There’s no disputing it: The Marketing and Sales functions of your company are joined at the hip. One can easily argue that everything Marketing does is for the purpose of facilitating sales – identifying and finding prospective customers, communicating with them, and persuading them to buy your products and services.

In most cases, the marketing process precedes the sales process, “softening the beaches” for your selling efforts. Market research can identify and locate your target audiences. And marketing communications can establish a dialogue with them through various tactics, including advertising, public relations, social and digital media, to name a few.
Those tactics can jump-start your sales process by conveying key selling points of your product or service to various audiences. That type of lead generation can make selling a lot easier.
Marketing can also aid in sales forecasting. By aggregating data from sources such as U.S. Census figures, market research, and your company’s own research efforts, you can generate an intelligent estimate of total potential sales volume.

Marketing Tactics : Ads,PR,Promotion, Social/Digital Media

How does marketing compare with advertising? With public relations? With social and digital media? To use a simple baking analogy, marketing is the pie representing everything you do to facilitate an exchange between your company and prospects and customers. The pieces of that pie are the above tactics; each plays a distinct role in the marketing recipe.
Advertising attempts to influence the buying behaviour of your customers by providing a persuasive selling message about your products and/or services. It can include placing ads in newspapers, yellow pages, billboards, TV, radio and the Internet. Since advertising is often the most significant expense in a marketing strategy, it’s essential to precede your efforts with a well-thought-out plan that defines your target audience, including their wants/needs (which will determine what you say) and their location (which will determine where you say it).
A cousin of advertising is promotion, which also serves to call attention to your products. There are two components to promotion: a promotional tactic, such as a discount, rebate, premium offer, coupon, contest or sweepstakes; and the medium by which you communicate that tactic, such as catalogs, point-of-purchase displays, trade show booths, direct mail pieces, catalogs and brochures. You may produce these materials in-house or hire an agency or freelance professionals to do it.
As opposed to advertising and promotion, which are intended to lead directly to product sales, public relations is all about creating a strong public image of your company and its products to the outside world. Good public relations can turn a new business into a success, give a declining company new life – all through messaging that paints the company, not the product, in a favorable light. Typical tactics can include press releases, events, talk shows, articles and columns in trade publications. PR is a popular tactic, especially in small businesses, because it is typically less costly than advertising.
We couldn’t conclude this discussion without speaking of the hottest tactics in today’s marketing mix: digital and social media. These include your website , blog and email marketing (digital) as well as posting on Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn and social media channels (social). What makes them so popular among small businesses is their cost: Digital and social tactics are a relatively inexpensive and easy way to ensure that your business and product receive high visibility. And if your company does business beyond your local area, online tactics such as these make it easy for people to find your company and purchase your product/service from anywhere in the world – essentially making your small business a larger one.