Does the word marketing make you just a little nervous? Are you concerned that you may not know enough about this skill set that can make or break your business? Then you're in the right place. Our Intro to Marketing series starts at the beginning, understanding marketing jargon, moves on to demystify market research then introduces you to marketing strategies and tactics.
Let's start with the basics – figuring out what a market is and why you need one.
Technically, a market is a place where goods and services are traded. A market can range from a physical location such as a store front to a cyber location such as a website or a combination such as a stock exchange. However, most people refer to their customer pool as their market, though the correct term would be market segment.
Marketing is the process of understanding and identifying the people or organisations that have an interest in a product or service then aligning that product or service in a manner that optimises the potential for sale or trade. The marketing of your product may include determining the age group and income of the people who will purchase it, their preferred product features, their usual methods of purchase and the price point that will provide the most profitable sales.
Market research is the process of gathering, recording and analysing data about customers, competitors and the market. The purpose of market research is to help you make better business decisions about the development and marketing of current and new products. Market research answers questions such as:
- What are current market trends?
- Who are the competitors?
- How do consumers talk about the products in the market?
- Which needs are important? Are the needs being met by current products?
Market research should help you cusotmise your products then position them correctly for your target market.
A target market is the market segment to which a particular product is offered. Target markets are often defined by age, gender, geography, and/or socio-economic grouping. For example, the target market for figurines carved from crystals might be people who embrace an alternative spiritual lifestyle.
Target Market Strategy
Target market strategy is the set of plans you put in place to offer your product to the customers you wish to service. The decisions involved in targeting strategy include which segments to target, how many products to offer, which products to offer in which segments and how to reach those customers.
Marketing ojectives are the outcomes that you hope to achieve for your business. For example, if you sell anti-aging vitamins and your current purchasing group is primarily ages 50+, your new marketing objective might be to expand your product's appeal to the 35 – 50 age group.
A market plan is a written document that describes the actions necessary to achieve specific marketing objectives. Market plans are based on market strategy, usually pertain to a product or service, a brand, or a product line and cover periods from one to five years. The market plan for a new line of hand crafted ink pens may include use of press releases, special packaging, discussion of the pens as an executive gift item in human resource forums, collaboration with a specialty paper company to co-market, e-mails to your client base describing why these pens make a perfect gift for people who appreciate quality and function.
Marketing tactics are the group of methods used to optimise the opportunity to sell a product. Tactics to expand your vitamin sales to the 35-50 age group might include special articles in your e-newsletter discussing the benefits of beginning vitamin use early to gain the greatest anti-aging benefit, placing advertising on fitness sites, health & beauty sites and fashion sites that cater to this age group, encouraging site users to sign up for a free birthday gift by entering their birthdate into your data base then targeting the 35-50 age group with special offers.
We agree that there's a lot of jargon associated with marketing and that even once you've learnt more about the definitions, it may be difficult to know how to move from marketing theory to producing results. In the next article in our series, we'll take a hands-on look at market research and how you can use it to make practical decisions about your business.