What exactly is Marketing?

What is marketing? We all seem to know it, seen it or heard of it. But do we really understand what it is? Specially among Sri Lankans marketing is all about clever sales, a creative advertisement that lure you into buying a product or at least get you to wander. The difficult to ignore sales pitch that we often label as “Marketing” isn’t really Marketing but simply sales. And the advertisement that is very creative in getting our attention is not Marketing but it is only a part of it. Which means there is a lot in to Marketing than advertisement. Clever product design is also called Marketing. The discount that get you hooked into a purchase is also called Marketing. Yet, Marketing in real is all of that, combined into satisfy the needs of customers while being a profitable business. 

So, how do clever advertisements, attractive product designs and those discounts make up to satisfy customer needs?

The later two may be obvious but advertising? To understand that it is imperative to understand the concept of Value first. Value is what satisfy our needs. When you need to know time, the clock is a valuable item. Even someone who could tell us the time is valuable although we wouldn’t be consciously aware of it. Both the said value are satisfying our need. So what business organisations are doing is they are creating value. This can be further analysed using Micheal Porter,’s a Harvard Professor, Value Chain. But that’s for later. 

The value creation is now very competitive as there are many business organisations trying to create value to satisfy customer needs. Why? Since the products and services are valuable to customers they are willing to exchange anything that satisfy the need of business organisations, which is mostly money. There can also be other things, such as good will. But let’s look at that later. Companies compete with each other in order to offer the best value to customer so that the customers end up with them, not with others. So in oder to create best value to the customer, Marketing Comes into play.

First of all Marketing means understanding customers. This requires to know customer behaviour and know what they consider as value.

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Marketing also attempts to focus on satisfying a group of customers as oppose to everyone as a whole so the businesses can focus on that specific group of customers, called target market. Once the business is confidence about target customer needs, they can develop the value, in other words, product or the service. To remain competitive and offer the best value possible, businesses can use a combination of elements such as the form of the product which include material, design shape and other physical features, place and time it is going to be available, method of possession and psychologically beneficial features like after sale service and the image. All these have to be at the right price making it affordable or attractive to the customers as well as profitable to the business. 

Apart from above another way the businesses can increase its value and satisfy customers is by effective marketing communication. Without properly being aware of the solution to the problem customers have no value in the solutions business organisations have created. Even if the customer is aware of the solutions if they do not know how to acquire it, where to find it, or how to use it to solve the problem they have, customers are unlikely to see much value in the solution. Where is a value in a hair care product that helps dandruff if you don’t know it exists? Hence through the use of different types of marketing communication methods like advertisements and sales promotions, business organisations can add further value to the solution they have created making it perhaps the most valuable solutions in the eyes of the customer. As it is mentioned above, by making it conveniently available right on time to solve the problem the business organisation complete its total value creation.

Therefore, marketing is not only sales or advertising. It encompasses number of different activities centred around the customer need.

All these activities have to be taken into account if a business organisation would like to do Marketing. However as our understanding of customer and business world expands, the marketing also expand. Apart from the above areas the realistic application of marketing now go beyond the focus of customer to include developing relationships with all internal and external stakeholders to allow the business to operate efficiently, environmentally friendly and sustainably. In other words, marketing is now considered as a holistic approach to business rather than a single discipline confined to a department. Therefore, it can never be just sales or advertising.

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