Many think of marketing as promotion, advertising or sales. Whey they see television advertisements or newspaper advertisements, they view this as marketing. Others use the term in place of the word “sales.” How often have you heard a company or individual say they are “selling” a product or service? But using the term in this way is only partially correct. Marketing is much more than simply promotion or selling.
A marketing approach to business begins with understanding you customers and their needs. It involves designing the entire company around fulfilling those needs, beginning with the product or service. Decisions that involve pricing, services, advertising and even sales are developed with the customer’s needs and desires.
Simplified, marketing starts with the customer. You work backwards from there.
Needs, Wants and Demand
Without a basic human need, there would not be a desire to purchase products or services. It is a “need” or a state of desire that drives marketing. Humans have many needs: physical needs, food and clothing; safety and social needs, shelter and a secure environment; the need to belong and feel loved; and individual needs that revolve around self-esteem and self-actualization, meaning we need to achieve some sort of status, such as a reward on the job and or self-development such as education. What is important to remember about needs is they are not created; they are part of who we are.
Wants describe the objects that will satisfy the needs. For example, two people are hungry. One wants a hamburger the other wants lobster. Marketers respond to these wants, which are triggered by needs, by providing a variety of products and services.
People want to be satisfied in different ways (hamburger vs. lobster) and will choose what products or services they buy based on their wants and resources. You are hungry (a need), you desire lobster (a want) but you can only afford a hamburger (demand).
What further complicates the process is that customers typically view products and services as a ‘bundle of benefits’ and choose those that give them best value (or bundle) for their money.
Why is this important for small business? Because marketing begins and ends with the customer, you must understand what drives customers to buy products in order to understand how you can best communicate your offerings.
Defining Products and Services
There are a multitude of choices for products in the marketplace. Products are generally thought of as tangible objects, e.g. computer, furnace. But, products are not limited to physical objects. Services, persons, places, organizations, activities and ideas are all “product” concepts. Basic marketing concepts apply to all.
Determining your Target Market?
A target market is a group of customers who have a similar need for a product or service, money to purchase the product or service, and willingness and ability to buy it. Typically markets are divided into two broad categories:
Consumers: Individuals who buy or acquire products or services for personal use or consumption.
Businesses: Products and services purchased for use in the development of other products or services, or for the purpose of reselling or renting them to others at a profit.