The Marketing Process
In order to succeed in pursuing the marketing concept, firms need not only to discover their customers’ needs, but also understand them and develop products to satisfy them. The process by which this is achieved is termed the marketing process, and consists of a sequence of stages, each of which contributes to the creation and implementation of an overall marketing plan:
The Marketing Process
Situation Analysis > Marketing Strategy > Marketing Mix Decisions > Implementation
Situation analysis generally consists of two sections: the firm must analyse the market to determine its customer needs, and then it must analyse itself to understand what needs it can fulfil. As such, situation analysis is often seen as an external environmental analysis and an internal analysis of the company’s capabilities and resources. These two analyses are generally carried out according to specific models which identify the most important factors in the internal and external contexts.
It is important for any situation analysis to consider the past, present, and future aspects of both the internal and external factors. As such, it should detail the customer trends which have led to the current situation and how they may change and evolve in future. It should also include a similar consideration of the development of the company’s capabilities and any additional resources or capabilities the company may look to develop in future. This is a vital part in ensuring that any new product developed will still have a need when it reaches the market.
The marketing strategy is created from the situation analysis. This stage involves identifying the areas where the company’s capabilities and resources will enable it to fulfil identified customer needs better than its competitors can. Once these opportunities have been identified, a strategic plan can be prepared, based on market research, to exploit the opportunity. As part of this, the firm will need to segment the market in terms of the most profitable consumer segments, target this segment with all marketing materials, positioning the product within the desired target market segment, and offer a strong value proposition to consumer in the target segment.
The marketing mix involves the detailed tactical decisions which are required to turn the marketing strategy into reality. These include developing and producing the product, setting the correct price point, arranging distribution contracts and the locations where the product will be sold, and developing and marketing or advertising campaigns.
Once the marketing strategy and marketing mix have been drawn up, they can then be implemented. Implementation effectively begins with the launch of the product, which could be when the product first appears in stores or when advertising begins. However, as environments and consumer preferences are constantly changing, the implementation phase often requires a significant control element. This control element involves adjusting the marketing mix to accommodate any changes in customer preferences or market perception. This can range from subtle changes to the advertising messages right through to repositioning the product or even developing a new product line or extension.
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