I met on several occasions startups and small business operators who seemed a bit confused about what marketing really means. Some considered it as simply promoting or advertising a product. Several understood it as selling a product. I believe this can be expected particularly if you are talking about businessmen who had a purely technical exposure before or those whose fields of expertise were not anywhere near the marketing profession. I was in a similar situation before I took up a business course.
I will try to present here for our friends, who want to go into business or are already running their startup businesses, what marketing is and how critical it is to the success of their business.
What is marketing
According to BusinessDictionary, marketing is “The management process through which goods and services move from concept to the customer…Marketing is based on thinking about the business in terms of customer needs and their satisfaction…marketing has less to do with getting customers to pay for your product as it does developing a demand for that product and fulfilling the customer’s needs.”
In marketing, we deal fundamentally with customer needs and the satisfaction of these needs. These needs could be a solution to a problem, life or business improvement, or elimination of pain points. Providing a product or service that addresses or satisfies these needs in a manner that is profitable for the business is front and center to a marketer.
If there is an existing need, the marketer may fulfill it alone (as in a monopoly) or in competition with other suppliers. If there is no existing need, the marketer may create a demand for his product/service. In either case, the marketer would promote or advertise his product/service. In doing so, the marketer creates awareness and builds interest in his product/service, and develops compelling engagement with his potential customers.
Selling, on the other hand, is the process of approaching a potential customer and leading him/her into making a purchase of the product or service.
Good marketing leads to sales.
How do you set up and run a marketing operation
For a startup or small business, the marketing and sales functions are integrated and handled by one person (most often the owner himself/herself) or group of hired persons (such as a team or department).
As can be surmised above, marketing prepares the foundation and groundwork so a business can have customers and generate sales.
Marketing refines the product/service concept and develops it to fit as best as possible the needs of the target market. It also calculates the optimum price for the product/service to maximize profit for the company while remaining competitive in the marketplace. Marketing promotes the product/service so potential customers get to know about it and eventually get persuaded to buy it. It establishes the distribution channel or network so the product/service can be accessed or delivered to the customers.
How important is marketing
Marketing identifies and develops the market for the product/service. It enables sales generation. Through all these activities, marketing ensures a continuing, expanding, and profitable business. No other function in a business is more crucial than marketing.
Entrepreneurs will do well by understanding marketing and effectively implementing it to improve their business operation.