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Marketing 101

What is marketing, and what is it not?

"Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably." This is how the Chartered Institute of Marketing define the discipline.

I have been more confrontational in my own definition, as follows: "Marketing is all about exploitation … we learn everything we can about the customers, the marketplace, our competitors, the technology, the politics, the environment, etc - and we then exploit our knowledge to provide the customers with the products they want, think they want, or that we can persuade them they want."

Thus the crux of marketing is knowledge, as most of what we do, on the surface, looks like trading in commonsense. This understanding is however the differentiator for the profession.

Marketing is definitely not about SALES. I first started out in Sales & Marketing, with a heavier focus on the former. As such I defined the difference as – marketing, as a function, provides the other business functions with AMMUNITION! For sales this means, the best product at the most appropriate price, promoted correctly to the right customers and delivered in the most appropriate and timely manner with the right incentives for the sales team.

The Mix – the marketer's toolbox

In marketing we talk about the marketing mix, a simple matrix coined by Borden and later, McCarthy. The mix comprises of the Product, Price, Promotion and Place (Distribution) – making the "4P's."

The Product:

The Price:

Pricing strategies, defined by Michael Porter

Both variants of the focus strategy rest on differences between a target market and other markets in the industry. The target market segments must either have buyers with unusual needs or else the production and delivery system that best serves the target segment must differ from that of other segments.

Cost focus exploits differences in cost behaviour in some segments, while differentiation focus exploits the special needs of buyers in certain segments.


Place (distribution):

Other elements of the marketing mix:

These elements are normally associated with the Service marketing mix, although they do hold true in all forms of marketing to differing degrees.

The Marketer

The marketer makes use of this simple framework, and other tools, build compelling arguments for their brand. It is far more complex than this, but if you talk to your marketer, you will communicate better if you use this framework.

About the author

Thom Poole is a Chartered Marketer with the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and a member of the Marketing Society. A marketer with over 19 years experience in online marketing and web strategy, Thom is strategic marketing consultant for Jack Marketing Solutions, working with SMEs. He also teaches people web design from beginners to professionals, as well as CRM, eCommerce, etc. A regular speaker on the CRM and e-marketing event circuit, Thom has also written a book on ethical e-marketing, called "Play It By Trust". The book is available at the publishers as a hardback or download.

Originally published in the Daily Telegraph Business Club (March 2006)


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