Small business owners tend to confuse marketing and advertising as the same thing. Advertising is a very important component of marketing but not the same. Marketing is the process of creating customer interest in products and services. Marketing generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication and business development. Marketing is the whole package and advertising is a component.

Advertising is an important element of the marketing strategy and probably the most expensive. Advertising is about sending messages about a company, its products and services. Advertising also includes putting together a series of methods to target viewers and interest them in becoming customers. Advertising includes placing ads, deciding what media to use, the frequency and the time the ad will run. Different types of media are used to distribute the ads. TV, direct mail, newspaper, Internet, emails, radio, magazines, text messages, flyers, billboards, etc. are among the different media used to distribute ads. Different media for different businesses, not all media is for everyone.

Advertising is simply a part of the marketing mix. The other parts include product research, product design, media planning, public relations, product pricing, customer satisfaction, customer support, and the list goes on and on. All these elements work independently but they all work towards achieving the goals and objectives set by the company, sell products or services and build market reputation. Advertising alone will not produce results and copying what others are doing will certainly fail. What works for some does not necessarily mean that it will work for others.

Advertising is not effective if proper research was not followed. Research is the understanding of needs and expectations of the clients. Designing of the product comes next and can be time consuming. Followed by advertising and sales. Marketing puts everything together as it creates strategies to succeed.

Advertising can become very expensive and worthless if not done properly and if important steps are not followed. Branding is important, but a logo does not guarantee sales, a logo represents the values and the reputation of a company and it takes time to build and to be recognized. Small business owners have to first invest time and money in knowing their clients, finding out their expectations and educating them. After getting to know their clients and building aggressively a database then they should engage in advertising and promoting their products and services. A complete marketing campaign will in this way be successful and generate sales.

No business exists and operates in a vacuum, but as a part and parcel of the environment in which it finds itself. Efficient and effective marketing strategy is a function of the marketing manager’s ability to understand the environment in which the business operates.

The marketing environment consists of a set of factors or forces that operate or influence a company’s performance in its chosen target market.

Jain (1981:69) defined the marketing environment to include all those factors that may affect the organization directly or indirectly in any perceptible way. Marketing environment factors affects the organization by the way of input and the organizations also affect the environment by output. The relationship between the organization and the marketing environment is often referred to as “inseparable” the organization and it environment are constantly in a state of: give and take” or homeostasis.

The marketing environment consist of those forces or element that impacts on the company’s capability to operate effectively in its chosen target market.

The marketing environment is divided into two major components. The elements are,

Internal environment: the internal environment is concerned with the controllable variables. Controllable variables are categorized into two groups, they are; the strategy variables and unmarketable variables. External environment: the external environment is concerned with the uncontrollable variables. These variables are called uncontrollable because the marketing manager cannot directly control any of the elements. The marketing manager is left with the option of adapting to the environment by prompt observation, analysis and forecasting of these environmental factors. The external environment can further be divided into two components, the micro environment and the macro environment.

Micro environment:

The elements that fall under the micro environment consist of forces or factors in the firm’s immediate environment that affect the firm’s capability to perform effectively in the market place. These forces are suppliers, distributors, customers and competitors. Let us discuss each of the variables in details.

Suppliers:

Suppliers are business customers who provide goods and services to other business organizations for resale or for productions of other goods. The behavior of certain forces in the suppliers can affect the performance of the buying organization positively or negatively. The critical factors here are the number of suppliers and the volume of suppliers to the industry. An audit of the suppliers will enable us to appreciate their strength and bargaining power, which the suppliers hold over the industry as a whole. The answers to the issues concerned have the potentials to affect the capability of firms in the industry to effectively deliver need-satisfying goods and/ or services. The trend today is that buyers attempt to persuade the supplier to provide exactly what the firms want. This process is known as “reverse marketing”.

Customers:

Customers are those who buy goods and/ or services produced by the company. In a purchase chain, different people play significant roles before a purchase decision is made. The various influences must be understood. The customer may be the consumer of the products where he/she is the user. The critical factor here is that needs and wants of consumers are not static. They are fast changing. The changes in the preferences of the consumer create opportunities and threats in the market. The changes called for the marshaling of separate strategy to either fit into windows of opportunities or survive the threats in the market. A good knowledge of consumers’ behavior will facilitate the design and production of goods and services that the customers need and want, and not what they are able to produce.

Competitor:

A competitor is a firm operating in the same industry or market with another firm. The consideration here is that, Firm A produces a substitute to that of firm B (industrial approach) or firm A and firm B seeks to satisfy the same customer need (market approach.

 

Marketing research “The systematic gathering, recording and analyzing data about problems relating to the marketing of goods and services”.

Market research on the other hand, is only a part of marketing research that covers a few of aspects of marketing. It is only the sub function of marketing research ‘some companies use “market research” for describing research into markets the size geographical distribution incomes, and so on. However it fails to cover the idea of research into the effects of marketing efforts on markets, for which the term marketing research is the accurate. Elements of marketing research.

1. Market Research. It covers the aspects regarding size and nature of the market including export markets dividing the consumers in terms, of their age, sex, income (market segmentation), economic aspects of marketing etc.

2. Sales Research. This relates to the problem regional variations in sales fixing sales territories, measurement of the effectiveness of salesman, evaluation of sales methods and incentives, etc.

3. Product Research. This relates to the analysis of strengths and or weakness of existing product testing problems relating to diversification, simplification, trading up and trading down (all product line decisions), etc.

4. Packaging Research. In essence, it is a part of product research. But the recent development in packaging and its contribution in the advertising made it to occupy an independent position. This necessitates a separate study concerning the aspects of package to know its impact and response in the market.

5. Advertising Research. It undertakes a study relating to the preparation of advertisement copy (copy research), media to be used (media research) and measurement of advertising effectiveness.

6. Business Economic Research. Problems relating to input output analysis, forecasting, price and profit analysis, and preparation of break -even charts are the main fields of the research.

7. Export Marketing Research. This research is intended to study the export potentials of the product. In such cases any or all kinds of research mentioned above become necessary.

The marketing approach techniques are countless. There are many ways to approach the potential customer. There are two marketing approaches that are very interesting, due to their specific techniques. They are viral marketing and direct marketing.

The Viral Marketing is a marketing technique that is using the social networks, both online and offline, for transmitting the message or advertisement, through self replicating viral process. This process resembles to spreading computer viruses or biological viruses.

Almost anything can be the subject of viral marketing effect: information, web link, video clip, e-Books, etc.

Methods of viral marketing expansion can be:

Word of mouth – simple communication between people who knows each other.

Social Media such as Facebook are the perfect examples of viral media. The number of people who are using these services is huge. The members of these social media environments are connected very well, since every user has many contacts. Finally, method of sharing idea or message is very simple, through different sharing techniques.

“Invite Your Friend” calls from different e-services. These messages that provokes the actions are moving significant part of population who wants to share the message, but they are not willing to invest effort.

Advantage of viral marketing is that it takes very little or no investment. The viral marketing system is powered by the will of transmitters to pass the message further. The power of exponential growth is tremendous. If every person is distributing the information to 5 people and further, this gives are 3.125 informed people after 5 levels from original message transfer. The viral marketing experts know this formula very well, therefore, the viral marketing is part of marketing techniques portfolio.

Disadvantage is that viral marketing is not reliable as a standard method of information transfer, since it is not likely that every idea will be transferred at the same rate. Simply, the outcome of the viral marketing campaign is unpredictable, since the power of campaign depends of many parameters.

Also “viral competition” dictates the effectiveness of viral campaign. If two similar campaign are present at the same period to the similar audience, it is likely that the social group will transfer the message that seems more interesting at the moment.

There is no secret formula for guarantied success of Viral Marketing campaign, but good ideas, with tone of humor, anticipation and value adding elements can help the viral marketing campaign to succeed.

On the other hand, Direct Marketing is a sales method where advertisers approach potential customers directly with advertisement, products or services. The most usual methods of direct marketing are telephone sales, solicited or unsolicited emails, catalogs, leaflets, brochures, direct visits etc.

There are two main differences that distinguish it from other types of marketing. The first characteristic of direct marketing is that the message is transferred directly to consumers, without use of intermediate communication media and mass media campaign. The second characteristic is “call to action” principle of communication to the consumers.

Direct marketing is attractive to many companies since the campaign results can be measured directly. For example, if a marketer sends out 5,000 messages by mail and 250 respond to the promotion, the company easily calculates that campaign gave 5% response rate.

On the other hand, the measurement of other media ( TV, Radio ) must often be indirect, since there is no measurable calculation of message recipients. Measurement of results is a key element of every activity.

Direct marketing is practiced by businesses of all sizes – from the smallest start-up company to the multinational corporations. The decision of using of direct marketing approach is not related to the size of the company. If the niche of targeted population is too small, the direct marketing may pay off more than large scale advertising campaign.

The Direct Marketing and Viral Marketing have completely different approach. The power of both marketing approaches can be leveraged, depending on the situation. Every person is the potential shopper, it only takes a little to trigger the shopping mechanism.

 

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