Marketing is a soft discipline so many small business owners don’t understand what it is and how it can benefit them. Other areas of business are more understandable: Sales and customer service, for instance, have tasks that you can easily identify and implement. Marketing isn’t quite so strait forward and it is not always so easy to come up with the answers you want. For instance: How can we make the sales process more effective? I could sit here and give you a few answers but it really depends on the customer. You have to truly understand your customer and their needs and desires in order to provide them a solution that makes sense.
Research and strategy is what marketing is really all about. We research to find out if our market is growing or shrinking, if there are niches that make sense to pursue, if our customer fits into a certain income bracket, how the customer is best reached, and so forth. We can also do marketing research to make our accounts receivable and customer service functions more effective, as certain kinds of customers are more responsive to certain actions. So marketing really can define the activities of the whole company, and mostly should, because the customer should be the focus of every department.
Once we know enough about our customer, we can create strategies and define business processes to mold to our customers’ needs. For instance, we may find that selling kitchen mixers is a declining marketing, but selling high-end mixers is a growing market with a higher profit margin. Our company may be seen by the market as selling cheaper products so we can create a new division to sell premium housewares to the high end market. Everything about the new division should appeal to this segment. We can create business processes within the new division to cater to the particular customer: where we advertise, how we sell the product, what kind of warranty is provided, and how customer service is handled.
Marketing really is the software that defines the hardware that is our business. Marketing is not sales, operations, or customer service but marketing can help all areas of the business be more effective for the particular customer group. If you have specific questions please feel free to reply and I will do my best to answer.