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Marketing – necessary evil?

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Is marketing “a necessary evil” and an overhead? Some companies may feel this way if they have had a bad experience. I know that businesses need to be careful with their budgets, particularly smaller companies. But whoever made this remark was clearly not getting their marketing right. Marketing should be the biggest and best investment you can make to enable your business grow.

Defining Marketing

People define marketing in different ways. Some people think of marketing as making brochures, websites, exhibition stands and PR. It can be viewed as a little arty by those on the engineering side of things. However those particular aspects of marketing should really come under the heading of Marketing Communications. The real scope of marketing is wider than simply marketing communications on its own. The classic marketing concept of the “Four Ps” defines it perfectly.  It defines marketing as: product, placing (for this read distribution or route to market), pricing and promotion. In most companies, the marketing department focuses on promotional work, but the four Ps model is spot on because it explains the wider process, and puts all of the elements in the right order. It tells us that there is other work to do before any kind of promotion can be successful. The product has to be right, the pricing has to be right, and the route to market has to be prepared. Most important of all, the marketing message, or proposition, has to be stated clearly in the marketing materials. Copywriting skills will make a difference here.

I will add a note here about markets. The size of a market dictates the size of the opportunity for an individual company, but there will be competition. The number and relative strength of the competitors in a particular market affects the share that each player is likely to achieve.

Successful marketing

A company’s promotional marketing will only succeed if they address the other aspects of marketing first. Before they start any promotions, the company should research the size and scope of the market, the competitors, and the potential demand for the product or service. Then they should shape their product or service to fit with that demand and set the selling price at the right level.

If the background research was realistic, and if the offering is right for the market, the promotional work should bring good results.

If there is a strong demand for the product, increasing promotional work will bring an increase in business. It also follows that those businesses that do their research and invest more in promotion than their competitors will do better in the longer term.  This makes marketing more challenging for smaller organisations. It is also why the great business gurus like Michael Porter advise smaller companies to specialise in market niches. This allows them to achieve visibility and success without such a large investment.

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