Welcome to the dynamic, exciting world of marketing! Described by many as the "heartbeat" or "engine room" of a business, Marketing is like a giant jigsaw puzzle; made up of many fields, disciplines, ideas, concepts, processes, techniques, tools, and activities. Most people who choose marketing as a career eventually specialise in a particular field of marketing. But before you can specialise, you first need to see the “big picture” and understand how all the different pieces fit together.
This is easy if you understand the most fundamental ideas on which marketing is based. And that’s exactly what this course is about ... based on these simple ideas, we will give you a broad overview of marketing and a basic understanding of its many parts and how these parts fit together.
We will also take a look at a wide spectrum of marketing principles and practices from traditional marketing techniques to the latest interactive, digital systems and techniques used in relationship or one-to-one marketing (also known as “micro marketing”). This survey will give you a solid understanding of the basics and, more important, the essential marketing skills you’ll need to be a successful marketer in the business world.
Origins of Marketing
At the most basic level, marketing can be seen as an exchange process between two parties (i.e. people and organisations). In primitive times, before money was invented, people bartered (exchanged) products to satisfy basic survival needs. But even primitive people quickly realised the real advantages of bartering; and the demand for products and services - which would make life easier and more enjoyable - quickly increased.
Gradually, as the population of the world increased, the distance between (human) participants in the exchange process increased. This distance caused gaps between buyers and sellers. For example, a space gap exists when Peter (a seller) is in Cape Town and Carl (a buyer) is in Pretoria; which will make the exchange transaction more difficult. Another example, an information gap; exists when a student would like to purchase a textbook, but does not know where to purchase it.
So, bridging the gaps between buyers and sellers, is one of the original, essential purposes and functions of marketing.
What is Marketing?
There are many ways to describe the exciting, often dramatic world of marketing. There are so many aspects and interpretations of marketing, that there have been some misconceptions about its true nature and purpose. For example, is it selling, advertising, or promotions? The answer is simply: all of these activities and more as we shall see shortly.
Let's now define marketing clearly, by looking at a few well-known working definitions.
“Marketing is the process by which companies create value for customers and build strong customer relationships in order to capture value from customers in return” (Kotler and Armstrong, 2014:27).
An alternative definition of marketing could be:
“Marketing is anticipating and satisfying consumer needs by means of mutually beneficial exchange processes, and doing so profitably and more effectively than competitors by means of efficient managerial processes”(Lamb et al, 2010:5)
From these two definitions of marketing, we see several important concepts and principles; such as:
What do marketers actually do?
To answer this question, let's think of marketing as a management function - just like production, finance, human resources, and so on. At the most basic level, all managers have to:
We can also think of marketing as a "set of activities performed by an organisation" (Perreault and McCarthy, 2002). These activities can be summarised by the single most important activity of marketing: creating and keeping customers (profitably). Now the question becomes, How is this done? This is answered by the following key functions and activities of marketing:
Develop marketing mixes (the 4 Ps) to satisfy target market needs
(Also known as the "4 Ps" in general marketing, the marketing mix is the term used to describe the best possible combination of the four key elements or variables that form the "heart" of a company’s value offering and marketing strategy. These are the Product, Price, Place, and Promotion: the right product at the right price in the right place with the right promotion. Lately, 2 more P's have been added to the marketing mix: people and (business) processes. More about these later.
All these functions and activities of marketing, might seem a bit strange and complex at this stage. Fortunately, we can summarise most of marketing management's task by means of the following two questions:
Let's clarify the concept of a target market, by means of the following example:
The overall tourism market in South Africa is made up of a large, diverse group of people (including local and foreign holiday tourists, business people, sports teams, conference delegates, and many more...). But, no single company can meet the needs of all these people; which is why marketing management must "slice up" (segment) this market into smaller, similar groups (i.e. segments), in order to serve each group properly and profitably. So, if a tourism operator (like a hotel group, for instance) chooses to focus its marketing efforts on business people and "upmarket" travellers, this segment will be its target market.
Reflection Questions: The Purpose of Business and Marketing
Looking Back and Looking Ahead
Now that we have a better understanding of the origin, nature, purpose and key functions of marketing, in our next reading we will take a look at the marketing concept as a guiding philosophy of business. We will also explain where and how marketing fits into an organisation's structure. See you then!
1. Oxbridge Academy. 2019, “Advertising and Marketing Management", https://www.oxbridgeacademy.edu.za/blog/category/advertising-and-marketing-management/ (accessed 20 October 2019).