Marketing still remains a mystery to its sponsors and also to those who practice it. It can be improved through a better understanding of customers, for they are a valuable asset to any firm. Businesses operate under a classic approach by inviting their customers to buy products or services under the offer. However, success is achievable if more effort is dedicated to solving customer problems to ensure that they are always satisfied. To achieve a marketing objective, a marketing program should be designed in such a way that it will deliver to the potential customer’s information regarding the product or service.
Marketing can be defined as a process through which customers obtain what they need through creating and exchanging products and value with others (Levitt, 1981).
However, marketing is a complex subject that involves different stages ranging from the determination of customer needs to satisfy them at a profit. This paper outlines a marketing plan that covers marketing situational analysis, marketing strategy, distribution channels, and pricing strategy, among others.
A product can be defined as a product of labor or effort that results from a process (Lovelock, 1983). In marketing, a product can be termed as anything offered to the market for the purpose of satisfying a need or a want.
Situational analysis can be termed as a foundation for strategically planning in a marketing process. It is concerned with the examination of environmental factors such as political, economic, socio-cultural, technological, competition, among others.
The government set laws regarding taxation, and a firm should study taxation laws and regulations in detail for purposes of projecting business profitability and also in the determination of prices (Robert & Bradley, 1987).
The global economic recession poses many problems that trickle down to individual economies. This has an effect on firms as it decreases the sales volume. A firm should scan the economic environment with a view of considering manipulation where possible to ensure that the company sales levels are not adversely affected.
Social, cultural situation
The socio-cultural dimension regards population growth, age mix, literacy levels, acceptance of imported products, amongst others (Abraham, 1954). A firm should take note of demographic trends across the market to understand which territories can create a booming business for their product. More so, the firm should find out whether people targeted as potential customers have basic education such that they can understand messages delivered through promotional activities. In addition, when a marketer understands how a client perceives both locally manufactured and imported products. This information will enable a firm to develop promotional strategies that will help to woo the customers to use their products.
In today’s world, technology is changing day by day. There is increased use of the Internet as firms are basically applying technology to promote their products, which has the advantage of reaching many customers. Further, adopting the current technology will aid the firm by properly displaying its product to both local and foreign customers. Through this, high sales levels can easily be achieved.
As a result of cut-throat competition, the firm should adopt competitive strategies that will make its product unique from those of the competitors. It should dwell much on product quality, right quantity, and also its appearance, which should be distinct from those of the competitor.
To remain customer-friendly, the firm should show concern for its environment. It should desist from actions that tend to cause global warming and also should consider disposing of its waste products in an effective manner, such that it does not harm the same environment, which creates a market for its products (Cunningham, Kotler, &Ronald, 2000).
The Marketing strategy
A marketing strategy refers to the scanning of both internal and external environments. The internal environmental factors regard analysis of marketing mix, whereas external environmental analysis tends to examine the customer, competitor, target market as well as the analysis of the PESTLE factors. In this case, we shall examine the target marketing and market positioning.
Each marketing plan tends to identify various segments for the product market and should be distinct in nature to suit the requirements of different markets. The marketer should appreciate the fact that some segments are distinct from the others, and the product is perceived differently (Shostack, 1977). Target marketing is designed for markets that are too broad and undefined. A marketer takes the total market and divides it carefully, understanding such aspects as demographics, the geographical location of customers, customer’s marital status, which are all important in target marketing.
Besides these, the marketer should also understand psychographics- the study of human characteristics of the customer and how it impacts products, packaging, advertisements, and public relations efforts applied by the firm. Another area of interest is the customer’s lifestyle. The marker can obtain information in relation to this from customer comments in relation to the consumption of the firm’s products. As such, by studying such behavioral variables keenly, the researcher can identify some common factors that can be used in predicting consumers’ future behavior.
A marketer should note that a product cannot be everything to all people. Very few products in today’s market carry a universal appeal. This is commonly observed in basic commodities where marketers have gone a notch higher by creating brand awareness and product differentiation. Proper product positioning makes the potential buyer recognize the uniqueness of the item and compares it with what the competition has put on offer.
Positioning is basically product brand identification. It entails analyzing market segments and the development of product distinct position in the overall market. A marketer should always think of how the product should appear in the segment and what must be done in that segment to ensure that the product sells (Berry, Parasuraman, & Zeithaml, 1985). This will call for different advertising methods for every segment.
Market positioning should vary in different segments to meet individual segment prevailing conditions for a product. The marketer should have valuable data about the customers and their respective segments. Positioning as well can be based on the benefits strongly relating to product features. This can be more effective since a marketer can talk to the customers about the product and what it can do for them (Abraham, 1954). A product may be good, but unless customers are made to understand how the product may benefit them, they may fail to purchase.
Product pricing is the linchpin of product viability; thus, one of the most important business decisions to make (Shostack, 1977). The most important point is to set a price acceptable by the target market and one that recovers the minimum costs and preferably generating profit for the enterprise. Pricing decisions should be based on costs, the effect of competition, consumer’s perception of the product, and the amount they are willing to pay.
When setting prices, the firm should consider the price floor and ceiling. The price floor refers to the lowest price that can be offered and still break- even. Therefore, if the firm decides to set the product price below cost, it should only be for the short-term. This is to achieve a specific strategic purpose, such as introducing a new product in the market. On the other hand, the price ceiling depends on what the market will bear and depends on two variables; the maximum price that the customers are willing to pay and the competitor’s price for a similar product. Upon understanding the price floor and ceiling, the firm can now make an informed decision about pricing the product.
Distribution is an important facet in marketing through which firms can achieve differentiation. Generally, a distribution channel performs the work of moving goods from producers to consumers (Lovelock, 1983). Besides, each distribution channel may offer different coverage, expertise, performance, and can also lead to the realization of economies of scale. Many producers do not sell directly to the customers.
Integrated Marketing communication
Integrated marketing communication (IMC) refers to the idea of coordinating promotional efforts with a view of achieving the best-combined effects of the firm’s efforts (Gonring, 1994). In general, sequences of events usually take place before the customer buys a product. The consumer must first be aware of the product and what it will provide. Further, the consumer evaluates the merits of the product by probably giving it a trial, in which case a good experience could lead to continued use. To achieve this, different promotional approaches will be used use depending on the stage of the consumer’s decision process that the marketer wishes to have an impact on.
Promotion Mix Strategies
Marketers can choose from two common promotion mix strategies “push” promotion or “pull” promotion. A push strategy involves “pushing” the product through distribution channels to final consumers (Cunningham et al., 2000). The firm directs its marketing activities towards inducing its salespeople to promote its product to final consumers. Using a pull strategy, the producer directs its marketing activities towards final consumers by inducing them to buy the product.
If the pull strategy is effective, consumers will demand the product from channel members, who will, in turn, demand it from producers. Thus, under a pull strategy, consumer demand “pulls” the product through the channels. A combination of both strategies is often preferred. In recent years, consumer goods companies have been decreasing the pull portions of their promotion mixes in favor of more push.
Companies consider many factors when developing their promotion mix strategies, including the type of product-market and the product life cycle stage. For example, the importance of different promotion tools varies between consumer and business markets. Consumer goods companies usually “pull” more, putting more of their funds into advertising, followed by sales promotion, personal selling, and then public relations.
In contrast, business-to-business marketers tend to “push” more, putting more of their funds into personal selling, followed by sales promotion, advertising, and public relations. Generally, personal selling is best suited for risky and expensive goods and in markets dominated by larger sellers. The effects of different promotion tools also vary with stages of the product life cycle. In the introduction stage, advertising and public relations are good for producing high awareness. Similarly, sales promotion is useful in promoting an early trial.
Message mix strategy
By putting together the message, the marketing communicator must have three issues: message content, message structure, and message format.
While communicating, the communicator needs to identify an appeal that that will help achieve productive results. There are two types of appeals: rational and emotional appeals (Gonring, 1994). Rational appeals relate to the audience’s self-interest. They show that the product will produce the desired benefits. “…emotional appeals attempt to stir up either negative or positive emotions that can motivate buyers.” (Gonring, 47). Communicators can use such positive emotional appeals as love, pride, joy, and humor.
The communicator can draw a conclusion or leave it to the audience. However, more recent research suggests that the advertiser is often better off asking questions and letting buyers draw their own conclusions.
To attract attention, advertisers can use novelty and contrast, eye-catching pictures and headlines; distinctive formats; message size and position; and color, shape, and movement. If the message is to be conveyed on television or in person, then all these elements plus body language have to be planned. Presenters plan their facial expressions, gestures, dress, posture, and hairstyle.
Promotion mix tools
Sales promotion includes various tools such as coupons, contests, discounts, and offers such as “buy ten products, and get one free.” These attract consumer attention and provide information that may lead to a purchase. Sales promotions invite and reward quick response. Where advertising says, “Buy our product,” sales promotion says, “Buy it now.” Companies use sales promotion tools to create a stronger and quicker response. Sales promotion can be used to dramatize product offers and to boost sagging sales (Cunningham et al., 2000).
Public relations offer several benefits. It is very believable: new stories, features, and events seem more real and believable to readers than adverts do. Public relations also can reach many prospects who avoid salespeople and advertisements (Cunningham et al., 2000). The message gets to the buyers as news rather than as a sales directed communication. Marketers tend to underuse public relations or to use it as an afterthought. Yet a well-planned public relations campaign used with other promotion mix elements can be very effective and economical.
Direct marketing is non-public: The message is normally addressed to a specific person. Direct marketing is also immediate and customized: Messages can be prepared very quickly and can be tailored to appeal to specific consumers. Finally, direct marketing is interactive: It allows a dialogue between the marketer and consumer, and messages can be altered depending on the consumer’s response. Therefore, direct marketing is well suited to highly targeted marketing efforts and building one-on-one customer relationships (Cunningham et al., 2000). Direct marketing will include catalogs, telemarketing, fax transmissions, and the Internet.
Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers and the strategy to use in sales, communications, and business development. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments. It is an integrated process through which companies build strong customer relationships and create value for their customers and for themselves.
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