What is Marketing
And How Can it Help My Business

How well do you think you know the answer to the question, "What is Marketing?" Before you decide you have it all figured out, read on...you may actually learn a thing or two.

restaurantMarketing is an important concept for the beginning, survival and progression of a business. It tends to be misunderstood when it is associated only with concepts like selling or advertising when it really is a much bigger term comprising of many functions, and processes.

Therefore, what is marketing? What, exactly, does it involve, and how essential is it to an entrepreneur and his business? And how does it fit in with the onslaught of internet viral marketing?

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The American Marketing Association (AMA) defined Marketing as “… an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders."

Jan Welborn-Nichols, provider of a series of Marketing articles found on the website, Marketing Basics, preferred to keep things simple and direct to the point. According to him, marketing is a strategy for using any resource that you had to accomplish your objectives.

What is Marketing: Your Business

In business terms, it includes everything that you do to use whatever you had (resource – time or money) to get your product or service to your customers (objective). This can be anything from pricing your products and services just right and utilizing excellent advertising techniques and customized marketing solutions to handle customer relationships and building the reputation of a business. For this reason, the question “What is Marketing?” isn’t only the act of selling or advertising per se but the whole process itself.

And marketing is all-emcompassing. If you think it's just about a business reaching out to customers, you would be selling yourself short. There are also many great business to business marketing ideas that can make a huge impact on your bottom line.

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The Department of Business and Employment in Australia provided easy-to-understand, and straightforward information about the marketing process. They’ve divided the process into two: conducting market research and developing the marketing plan.

What is Marketing: Market Research

Market Research is normally done before developing the marketing plan. The entrepreneur needs information on the market that s/he is interested in before proceeding, which includes possible competitors, potential customers, the need for the product or service being sold, and expenses.

In doing the market research for your business, it is important to keep in mind the “4 P’s”:

1. Product – Knowing and understanding what your potential customers need and how your product or services will be able to satisfy this need are important aspects of your research. You build what you sell around this need so that customers are attracted to it. See our viral marketing products page for more info on this topic.

2. Place – It is also important to know not only the physical aspects of your business, but also the place surrounding your business. Can potential customers find it? Are there a lot of competitors around? Is it accessible?

3. Price – Placing the correct value on the products or services you sell is another significant aspect to consider. You need to make sure that the price will cover the expenses as well as give you profit. It is also important to consider the price of other competitors and how this will affect your business, and your number of customers.

4. Promotion – This includes advertising, sales promotion, branding, personal selling, publicity, and networking. You need to promote your business, get your customers to notice, and let them know that the products and services you sell is something that they need. Advertising isn’t equivalent to marketing. It’s only part of it.

What is Marketing: Marketing Plan

After getting all that important information from the market research, you can select your target market and plan how you will get your product/service to them. The Marketing Plan is a written “course of action” of your market strategy. It provides information on how long the strategy is going to take to complete, the marketing mix (4 P’s), resources needed, results expected and a control to make sure that the plan keeps going in the right direction.

What is Marketing: Effective Marketing Methods

There are many marketing methods utilized today, depending on the business that you have set up or the product/service that you sell. With the advancement of technology, marketing strategies are even taken online in order to take advantage of its networking abilities and the number of potential customer that it can reach. And with the emergence of viral marketing the customer reach is way beyond what it was just a few short years ago. A few marketing methods are listed below:

* Welcome/Greet Customers with Style – Customers are very important in any business. Without customers, there is no business. So by taking the saying “first impressions last” to heart, it is important that you make a good impact on your clients from the very start. You can create a witty greeting to use when they enter your shop, make sure that your business phone answers them professionally, or make your business website look inviting.

* Offer Assistance by Displaying Entrepreneurial Characteristics
– This doesn’t just apply to your customers, but even to other business owners as well. By being friendly and approachable, people get to know you and are likely to spread this fact. You can also opt to help out in your community or support an organization. This helps you and your business be known, and because of this your reputation and customers are likely to build up.

* Take Initiatives to Make Your Customers Feel Special
– Like mentioned above, customers are very important to any business, and by making them feel special, they are more likely to remember you, recommend you to their friends and/or come back for more. Making them feel special doesn’t mean being overly attentive, but that they feel important. Discounts, freebies, and giving them something more (even if only something small) can be enough to get this done. If you asked any customer the question, "What is Marketing?", they may very well tell you "Make me realize I need what you have, and give me a reason that I should buy it from you rather than someone else."

* Produce Practical Business Cards and other Promotional Materials
- Practical business cards are those that clients are also able to use. For example, notepads or desk calendars with contact information of your business are more likely to stay in view than end up in the trash.

* Build your Business Profile Online and Offline
– Be present. Get a booth to represent your business in trade shows, job fairs, fund-raisers and other events. Host your own charity event and create a website. Join one of the hundreds of Social Networking Websites. By doing this, you build up the reputation of your business, and more and more people will come to know about it.

* Network
– Offline and online networking are very effective ways of getting potential customers to know about your business. Join social networking sites for free on the internet, and easily find people who are more likely to be interested in your product/services. Join organizations ot Social Networking Websites related to your business, or even those that are just your personal interests. The more people you know, the more contacts you reach, and the more potential customers your business is likely to have.

So, "What is marketing?" It’s a very big concept to explain with words, and even bigger in reality. It’s a process/strategy that combines all of these, planned depending on the business that you have, and changed according to results as necessary.

Want some other great promotional ideas for you business. Just follow these links:

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Discover what successful entrepreneurs already know. Great Customer Service Tips matter.

Get inspired. Visit the Success Stories of Entrepreneurs page.

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