Marketing Defined

Actionable Marketing 101

What is marketing? Ask any group of executives this question and you’ll get a very diverse set of answers, each containing some aspect of the answer.  In today’s ever-evolving marketplace, there are three dominant forms of marketing, each of which can be broken into more specialized types. Here’s how I define and categorize them:

  1. Marketing is the process of getting a product or service from a company to its end customers from product development through to final sale. A range of different activities including product development, market research, marketing, advertising, branding, media, PR, communications, sales, customer service and analysis are involved.  Depending on the organization, many  of these activities may or may not report to marketing. As a function, marketing extends across the customer’s entire purchase process including research, engagement, purchase, post-purchase (including supplemental support and returns) and advocacy.Generally focused on the traditional 4Ps: product, price, promotion and place, marketing may be divided between above-the-line marketing which refers to brand building and less trackable forms of marketing and below-the-line marketing which refers to more easily measured types of marketing such as direct marketing and promotions.
    • Brand marketing builds awareness, brand perceptions, and purchase intent. It often uses mass media’s reach to achieve its goals. In most cases, branding efforts take time (at least a year) to yield bottom line results.
    • Direct Marketing is a specialized form of marketing that has a call-to-action (referred to as a CTA) the refers prospects to an immediate response mechanism such as a phone number, fax number, mail order form or website, and the ability to be measured. Traditionally focused on direct mail and catalogs, direct marketing has expanded to encompasses a broad range of communications devices, both offline and online.

    Alternatively, marketing may be categorized based on customer segment. The dominant three markets include:

    • B2C or Business-to-Consumer Marketing focuses on selling merchandise and services to consumers.
    • B2B or Business-to-Business Marketing differs from consumer marketing in that purchase decisions involve a broader group of decision makers and influencers. Also, it uses other forms of marketing such as trade shows, distributers and dedicated sales forces.
    • Social Marketing is used by not-for-profit organizations for social good and politics as well as government agencies.
  2. Digital Marketing (also known as interactive, online or e-marketing) is marketing where some or all of the process is delivered via, or occurs on, a digital device including computers and a wide range of other devices such as mobile phones, gaming consoles, iPods/iPads and e-readers. With digital marketing, the traditional 4Ps have evolved to the 4Cs: content, communications, community and commerce. In the process, consumers have gained influence through newer platforms where they can leverage their opinions about brands and products.Digital marketing may be used to achieve both branding and direct marketing objectives. When it’s used for branding, companies get the added benefit of being able to build a list of their prospects and customers in a way that may not be possible with offline channels. Similarly, it may target specific categories of end customers.Digital marketing encompasses a variety of specialized forms of marketing. Among them are:
    • Search marketing is the process of making your brands, company and products more visible via search engines like Google and other similar Internet properties like YouTube. Search marketing can focus on organic or natural search or paid search where companies pay for advertising on search engines.
    • Email marketing focuses on the special aspects of building and maintaining a list of email address sending email communications. Relative to other forms of marketing, email is cost-effective and directly drives revenues.
    • Social media marketing involves the use of a wide range of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to engage with prospects and consumers in a transparent way.
    • Mobile marketing is the use of marketing via mobile devices including SMS or text messaging, the mobile web and apps.
    • Connected marketing involves the use of multiple forms of digital marketing which are coordinated to increase the impact of the campaign.
  3. Integrated Marketing (also referred to as Multi-Channel Marketing or 360o Marketing) uses a diverse set of marketing techniques across a variety of online, offline and retail channels that work together to yield desired results. In general, the advantage of this approach is that customers who purchase from through than one channel tend to generate additional revenue. The downside is that additional coordination is required across channels to present a consistent brand image and offering to consumers.

Happy marketing
Heidi Cohen

Photo credit: Shop Till You Drop by Rob Holland via Flickr

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