Tools for Effective Marketing Communication
Marketing is a fundamental concept that enables organisations to meet their goals. The marketing process is crucial not just for businesses that aim to maximize profit; it is also relevant for non-profit organisations. The most basic and widely acceptable definition of marketing is: "putting the right product in the right place, at the right price, and at the right time." Going by this definition, there are a set of marketing variables that are useful in helping organisations make strategic decisions. Put together, these variables – product, price, promotion, place – constitute what is known as the marketing mix, often referred to as the four Ps of marketing.
The marketing mix concept was popularised by the 1964 article by Neil Borden, titled, “The concept of marketing mix." The concept is essentially for marketing tangible goods. However, there are additional variables for marketing services. The additional Ps for marketing services are: people, process and physical evidence.
Much of the focus of this article is on the four different but equally important variables mentioned first above. The strategic interaction among these variables and the application of the marketing mix would define an organisation’s competitiveness, market demand for its products and its ultimate profitability.
The first variable in the mix is the core offering of an organisation, often driven by market demand. A product can also be offered based on an identified need for it in a given market, the problems it promises to solve or the benefits it offers to consumers. The product offering can be enhanced by critical elements such as labelling; product and consumer information; as well as packaging that provides a distinctive value amongst available alternatives.
A product still needs to follow a trajectory as it migrates into a brand. A product or service offering can evolve into a brand with distinctive value propositions. Attaining the status of a brand requires well-crafted communication strategies underpinned by a market-driven positioning strategy. An organisation’s strategic direction will create the enabling environment necessary for the transition to be made.
The product pricing strategy must ensure the product is attractive to buyers and sellers. This does not preclude the fact that the pricing must take into account the cost of production, advertising and marketing expenses. The market value attached to the product or service can either be based on market skimming pricing or market penetration pricing. Market skimming entails setting prices above the competition, while market penetration entails setting prices below the competition. Either strategy has its limitations.
Premium products or services, which have high-end market ambitions, are priced based on market skimming strategy to attract high net-worth customers. Consumer products are priced based on market penetration strategy to drive market share expansion and achieve large sales volume.
Having identified the product or service, and having set its price, the next strategic goal is to reach out to the target market through a well-articulated marketing communication strategy to enhance the acceptability of the product or service. The primary goal of promotions is to create awareness about the product or service through various tools such as radio, television, press, out-of-home advertising, social media, among others. Promotions are a critical factor in the marketing mix, affecting all the other variables.
All products and services need distribution channels for consumers to have access to them. Access to a product is a huge factor in achieving organisational goal, whether it is profit or simply making a desired impact. For instance, consumer goods manufacturers have a preference for making their products available to customers in retail stores. Beverage manufacturers expand their distribution channels to vendors on street corners. Wellestablished food sellers operate branded restaurants, while others sell food to customers in trucks. While the marketing mix plays a crucial role in the business planning of any organisation, making the decision on the four Ps has an impact on segmentation, targeting and positioning (or the STP strategy). Beyond the strategic decisions that inform all the variables in the marketing mix, organisations have to drill down to personalised messages to reach target audiences. STP is a strategic approach in modern marketing communication. It focuses on the audience rather than the product.
Because resources are limited and market needs are diverse, companies need to set their marketing plans across selected or focused segments. Each segment is chosen based on predetermined indicators