Business marketing basics

Effective marketing will help to achieve your goals and grow your business. It will build awareness, attract customers and build lasting, profitable relationships.

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Defining marketing

Marketing is about planning and executing the development, pricing, distribution and promotion of products and services to satisfy the needs of your customers.

The main role of marketing is to deliver customer value to attracting new customers and keeping existing ones. This is achieved by:

  • knowing what customers need
  • coming up with solutions to meet these needs.

Marketing is about the principles that guide your customer-focused actions.

It is a comprehensive process that determines how to go to market with your products and services. For your marketing to be successful, you'll need a strong understanding of your brand positioning and the needs of your customers.

'Marketing is the science and art of exploring, creating and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit.'

Dr. Philip Kotler

Both science and art are important elements of marketing practice. The science of insights, analytics and metrics, and the art of creative ideas and clever execution should work together.

Marketing challenges

Many businesses find it challenging to do effective marketing because of:

  • lack of time and resources (like staff and money)
  • the growing complexity and continuous change in the world their business operates in, including
    • new technology and new channels, which require new skills and specialisation
    • increased competition, which has given customers an abundance of choice.

Technological advances have made customers more connected, informed and empowered than ever before. To meet the changing expectations, preferences and behaviours, your business must be:

  • brand driven
  • customer focused.

In practice this means that you should start with strategic thinking, marketing strategy and planning before getting into the tactics (the steps and activities).

By understanding your current situation, you'll be better able to recognise gaps and make improvements. To get more out of your marketing efforts, answer the following questions:

  • What role does marketing currently play in your business?
  • Does your marketing strategy align with your business strategy?
  • Does your business have the right marketing skills and resources?

The 7 Ps of marketing

Marketing is delivered through a combination of elements—the 'marketing mix'. These elements are also often referred to as the 7 Ps of marketing.

This popular and practical marketing model can help you to:

  • do a marketing audit
  • refine your value proposition
  • do a competitive analysis.

Review your 7 Ps regularly

Assess your 7 Ps regularly to make sure they keep up with:

  • your competitors
  • changing customer needs
  • technological advancements.

Product refers to what you create and deliver to meet the needs of your customers.

It requires you to think about:

  • what problems you're solving for your customers
  • how to exceed their expectations.

It includes your products and services, as well as the features, benefits, and value your products and services offer customers.

Value is not just about price, quality and style

Value also includes:

  • availability (e.g. trading hours and access to online ordering)
  • options (e.g. a choice of payment methods or added extras)
  • packaging (e.g. using sustainable or recycled materials or innovative designs)
  • accessories (e.g. offering a customisable range or product bundles)
  • warranties (e.g. offering express and extended guarantees)
  • repairs (e.g. annual maintenance or on-site callouts)
  • support (e.g. account managers or online tutorials).

You can do customer research to find out which of these factors your customers value most.

Price refers to your business pricing strategy and how customers pay for your products and services.

It's the all-important value exchange—that is, the price customers are prepared to pay for the benefits you deliver.

When deciding on prices, you need to know:

To attract and retain customers, your ideal pricing strategy should:

  • align with your business type and goals
  • reflect your desired brand positioning
  • consider your competition.

You can read more about pricing strategies and use our pricing calculators to work out the best approach for your business.

Place refers to where your products and services are made, found, distributed, sold and supported. It can be a physical location, a digital presence, or both.

Whether it's real or virtual, the design must:

You may engage directly with customers, or your distribution model could include third-party intermediaries, such as:

  • partners
  • resellers
  • couriers.

Your distribution model forms part of the customer experience and must be actively managed.

You could also do a review of your marketing channels to see if you're targeting your promotions in the right places.

Starting a business?

If you're starting a new business, you can read our guides on:

Promotion is about communicating information about your products and services to your target customer segments. It's usually designed to create a response.

As part of promotion, also consider your other communication, for example, to your partners and employees.

Choose the right promotional activities

Through the marketing strategy and planning process, you'll be able to choose the right mix of promotional activities for your business needs.

Select your promotional activities based on the media use and preferences of your target market.

Your promotional activities should use the right:

  • channels (where and when you communicate to customers)
  • messaging (what you say to them, and how you say it).

Types of promotional activities

  • Advertising—you can promote your brand across many channels, for example, newspapers, magazines, radio, television, outdoor and online. Find out how to make your business advertising successful.
  • Personal selling—effective personal selling, such as telemarketing, requires strong interpersonal and communication skills. You need a good understanding of your customers and back this up with expert knowledge.
  • Public relations—positive publicity is earned media (media or exposure you haven't paid for). This can be achieved through, for example, press releases and interviews with national, regional or local media. Learn more about public relations for your business.
  • Sales promotions—a proven technique to generate interest is to run short-term sales incentives. This includes discounts, competitions, and coupons. Find out more about running sales promotions and using coupon websites.
  • Direct marketing—this represents an efficient way to engage with customers. This can range from targeted direct mail through to letterbox drops. It's worthwhile to learn more about direct marketing methods.
  • Online marketing—the digital world offers many cost-effective marketing opportunities. Find out how to develop your digital marketing strategy.

Do the research

You can make more informed decisions about promotional activities by researching your customers.

This refers to the individuals who work for your business, including yourself. It's the people who deal with your customers, either directly or indirectly.

This is the human side of your business. When you provide outstanding service and support, you add value to the experience and encourage word-of-mouth and referrals.

Think about how often online customer reviews focus on exceptionally good, friendly service or on rude, bad service.

Consider all interactions, including:

  • face-to-face
  • through your contact centre
  • though online (live) chats and email correspondence
  • on social media.

You can give your business a competitive edge by:

Workplace culture counts

Your brand becomes the external expression of the internal culture of your business.

Learn more about what you need to do to employ and retain the right people for your business.

This is about the activities involved in delivering your products or services. In simple terms, it's about being 'easy to do business with'.

An effective process helps you to:

  • achieve repeatable and consistent customer service levels
  • save time and money by increasing your operational efficiency.

Action item: map out the process

It's helpful to map out the end-to-end journey from your customer's perspective. Explore all potential brand interactions, for example:

  • sales
  • service
  • ordering
  • delivery
  • payment.

Also consider the technology you use and the partners you deal with.

Discover more about business processes and procedures together with customer journey mapping.

This refers to all existing and potential features customers see when engaging with your business.

Physical evidence:

  • is the tangible proof that establishes credibility
  • includes the look and feel of your business branding
  • spans the physical and digital environment.

Physical evidence may be:

  • a retail store
  • interior design
  • a business website
  • online ratings and reviews
  • the uniforms and behaviour of employees.

Consider everything about your business that can be seen or otherwise observed, and how it can help to reinforce your brand and elevate your business.

Look at retail design

Think about how your store layout, fixtures and signage can build you brand and increase your sales.

Thumbnail of 7 P's marketing template

Action item: review your 7 Ps of marketing

To maximise your success, you need to make the most of your marketing mix. The power of marketing lies in combining the different marketing elements in an effective way.

To help you do this, use our template to evaluate your 7 Ps.

Marketing in practice

Marketing is an essential part of your business. Take a practical and phased approach by following the step-by-step guide to develop your marketing strategy and plan.

Before taking the next step, think about these critical success factors:

  • resources—do you have the right people, time and budget?
  • expertise—do you have the right knowledge and skills?
  • communication—do you have a collaborative approach?

These factors will determine if you can reach your marketing goals. Identify where you need to focus your effort on by completing the interactive marketing health check.

Also consider...