Marketing can be described as the assessment and creating of consumer demand and the coordination of the resources of personnel, finance, production and distribution to meet such a demand at a planned profit. Marketing is thus the process whereby a company tries to find out what its customers want and then develops its products accordingly.
Marketing is both a concept and a set of techniques covering selling, sales, management, market research, new product development, product management, pricing, packaging, advertising and sales promotion, distribution, consumer guidance, after-sales service and public relations. Marketing therefore, covers a very broad spectrum of business activities.
In order to run a successful organisation today it is important to know the needs, likes and dislikes of the customer. It is necessary to know who the customer is, where the customer is, what motivates the customer to buy one’s products or service, to define the competitors and to keep in touch with changing circumstances that necessitate changes to the product / marketing strategy.
General Marketing: No individual can process all the necessary knowledge, experience and attributes to be the marketer for an entire organisation. The very nature of marketing demands a high degree of specialisation. However, the entire marketing effort must be coordinated by a marketing director or marketing manager to be effective.
Product and Brand Management: This is a typical marketing function, which involves coordinating the efforts of the various specialists. Product managers are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of a product. They are responsible for controlling the policies regarding the product’s packaging, branding, pricing, advertising, promotions and distribution; in fact everything to do with a product from the idea stage onwards.
A prerequisite for a career in product or brand management is a good knowledge of marketing and budgeting and some direct sales experience. As product managers are usually held responsible for the success or failure of a product, a high degree of responsibility, capability and experience is necessary. Product specialists or managers must be able to remain steady when under pressure.
New Product Development: Research often discovers a need or examines it and provides ideas and facts concerning it. However, such facts must be converted into a product or service. Research and product development, therefore, work hand in hand.
Product development also entails the collecting of information on competitors’ products.
In large organisations, personnel are hired to specialise in new product developments, particularly high technology industries, where products change rapidly. A career in product development requires an aptitude for Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Engineering (depending on the industry type).
Promotional Activities: As a result of research and development a product is produced which has been tested and re-tested in the ‘laboratory’ and in the market place. Up to this stage of a product’s ‘life’, a ‘total loss’ situation exists. It is often said that nothing happens in business until something is sold. This is the task of the various promotional sections of the Marketing Department. They plan, organise and evaluate promotions.
Selling: Personal selling is one of the oldest professions, and is still the most effective in many industries. Selling as a profession is a very demanding but extremely rewarding one. Salesmen usually rank among the top earners in most companies. A career in sales usually begins behind the counter, as a sales clerk, a merchandiser, a sales representative or door-to-door selling. Many companies insist that their salespeople work in the factory, credit control and sales offices before being sent out “on the road”. No salesperson should be sent out without the necessary knowledge and training. Sometimes, special training is also given in sales techniques.
Sales Management: The task of the sales manager is to do forecasting and budgeting, organising, recruiting, selecting and training of the sales force, sales compensation, sales territory, leading, motivating and supervising of the sales force, as well as the evaluation of sales performance.
Career advancement is made through various levels from sales representative to supervisor to area manager, field sales manager, national sales manager and sales director. Organisations today expect their sales management to have at least a reasonable knowledge of marketing. Most organisations run regular sales training courses for their staff, however there are many organisations, which specialise in sales training. Sales experience is often regarded as essential before one can enter other aspects of the marketing function. However salesmanship on its own, is a very worthwhile and rewarding career.
Advertising: Nowadays advertising is also referred to as marketing communication, which includes advertising, sales promotion, personal selling, sales directed methods, publicity and public relations.
Advertising is the mass communication tool of marketing. The product or service is promoted by using newspapers, radio, television and cinema, which means that many more people can be reached. Advertising agencies are specialist organisations that provide their clients with specialist knowledge to ensure effective advertising. Larger organisations have their own advertising departments or advertising specialists within a marketing department.
Opportunities in the advertising business are varied, from the specialist who decides on the best media to use, to the artist, writer, production staff and accounts executive whose function it is to coordinate the programme and generally look after the client. Note that there are not as many career opportunities in advertising as in marketing itself. Another form of advertising is the direct mail business in which advertising is aimed at the market in a more personal, direct manner through the use of letters and pamphlets.
Sales Promotion: Even at the point of sale, efforts are made to influence the buying decision of the consumer. The consumer-products industry particularly uses sales promotions, competitions and special offers to convert customer purchasing power into effective demand.
Opportunities in this field are usually found within the marketing departments of the consumer products industries, although there are some organisations which provide these services to clients. Advertising agencies usually have specialists that provide clients with the necessary know-how. Alternatively, companies may employ their own merchandising managers.
Public Relations: see Public Relations Practitioner
Distribution: The final moving of products to the consumer is known as distribution. This is an important function as it is essential for the success of the product that it is available to the consumer at the right time and place. A career in distribution can involve a great deal of varied experience from sales, to buying, to wholesale, transport and many other business activities.
Market Research: One of the most vital functions of marketing is to establish facts upon which management can base its decisions, thus reducing the risk. This fact-finding activity is called market research. Market research is, therefore, used to determine facts concerning the consumer, the consumer’s awareness of the products or services and the effectiveness of advertising. The uses of market research are vast.
Some companies specialise in research and conducting projects on behalf of clients. Some of the larger organisations have their own market research specialists within the marketing department. The opportunities in this field are numerous and people skilled in the techniques of market research are usually in demand.
As most research is based on sampling the population and applying findings to the population, an aptitude for subjects such as Statistics, Economics, Sociology and Psychology (especially concerning consumer behaviour), is necessary.
Except for the marketing director, the marketing manager holds the top position in the marketing field of an organisation. In large companies there are further specialisations in the managerial field such as product manager, marketing service manager, marketing planning manager, public relations manager, advertising manager, sales manager, sales promotion manager, export manager / director, market research manager.