Why should you care about marketing?

Marketing essentials

Marketing is the heart and soul of every great business. Any business that exists needs to project themselves into the market place. If no one knows that a business exists and what they do products will not be sold. A business needs to communicate with potential customers who they are, what they do and why anyone should care. A value proposition is a clear statement that appeals to your customer’s needs by providing a product that fulfills that need better than an alternative choice. This is not a purpose, mission or vision statement for your business in general, although that is important to communicate. A unique selling proposition is a specific message that answers the customers question: What is in it for me? And, why should I listen to you and care what you say?

Marketing activities are the strategic considerations that drive value creation for a business. What is often referred to as the marketing concept is the recommendation that businesses consider their own operations from the perspective of the customer. This requires marketing professionals to research, listen to and understand existing and future customers. One of the most dangerous phrases uttered by a business professional is “I like it” because it doesn’t matter what you like, unless other people like it too. It is possible that you can represent your target market with your own preferences. However, this is basing your business decisions on happenstance, rather than putting yourself in position through research and analysis to benefit from preparation that meets opportunity.

Marketing is a social good, when properly understood and used. The economic principles of free markets drive the marketing concept. The goal of the US capitalist market system is for businesses to legally satisfy the needs of customers. Milton Freidman put it this way, a manager’s “responsibility is to conduct the business in accordance with their (owner’s) desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom.”[1]

International markets make every business an exporter. And, global competition means that every business is competing with other firms and worldwide imports. This reality is best addressed by focusing on a specific target market and determining what international shipping, pricing, currency exchange, taxes and promotion considerations it entails. While performing these essentially revenue driven functions good marketers should also scan the external environment looking for worldwide opportunities and threats. We will discuss further areas where business leaders should pay attention to disruption, trends and changes. However, the primary source of pain and problems for any business is competition. This is the major threat that every business will face in one form or another. Either direct or indirect completion can disrupt your business model and destroy your competitive advantage (if it ever really existed).

If the business objective is growth, the marketing defines strategy to achieve it. Not every business is focused on growth and in those cases marketing may need to interact and negotiate with aspects of the business to support various strategies including divestment and preparation for acquisition. Peter Drucker stated that “the purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer… Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

The essence of marketing is external communication that drives revenue into an organization. Marketing is a boomerang that is sent from the corporation into the world to pick up money and bring it back to the business.

The marketing mindset is an approach of business managers that focuses on delivering customer value to increase shareholder equity for a business. A business can be defined as for profit or non-profit. Non-profit businesses are also referred to as not-for-profit organizations. These are often private charities but can include hospitals, civic, religious and educational institutions. Another form of non-profit organizations are local, state, and federal governments which serve constituents and use marketing.

While many organizations use marketing to develop, design and promote causes; persuasion, influence and changing attitudes are only part of marketing. It has been said that “a person convinced against their will is of the same mind still.” In many cases the deeper roots of an opinion will withstand the most logical and sound argument. And, an opinion that is changed but does not affect action is superficial. This relationship between our thoughts, feeling and actions is discussed in consumer behavior.

In a for profit business profitability is a measure of shareholder return on investment which impacts stakeholders more broadly. This cycle and connection is discussed further when the mission is enacted and business strategy is developed.

[1] The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits by Milton Friedman. The New York Times Magazine, September 13, 1970. Copyright @ 1970 by The New York Times Company

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