Marketing is defined as the selling of a product or service to a prospective customer. It involves the use of media to promote products and services. The marketing aspect of any business can be summed up as ‘the sale’. Marketing is one of the most critical elements in the achievement of any business goal. In today’s fast-paced world of trade, marketing is more important than ever.
Marketing refers to the strategic process that an organisation undertakes to engage with its target audience, create strong ties with others in the business community to make value from the transaction, and then acquire value for that exchange by converting potential into actual sales. This process is undertaken in pursuit of specific goals, and on an ongoing basis. There are four primary marketing activities – selling to customers, developing and maintaining relationships, promoting our brand and selling our product or service. These activities reinforce each other, often indirectly. For example, developing contacts and relationships through networking and participation in events help us to build a positive image. Selling to customers on our own behalf can build trust and rapport with them which, in turn, can result in further sales.
The term marketing was first used by Richard Dennis in his book Marketing Research (1977). He distinguished marketing as a concept and applied it to four main areas of activity: Developing the Market, Customer Needs Analysis, coordinated marketing and Sales Activities. Dennis maintained that marketing was a process and not a product or a service and it was a process that required awareness, assessment and modification at every stage. He also felt that marketing was a collaborative process involving many different people, organizations and institutions. The concepts of marketing were therefore not exclusive to any particular company or industry.
Current market trends show that traditional marketing concepts are no longer relevant and their use has been greatly reduced. Today, selling to customers has been substituted by advertising, whereby the marketing concepts have been adapted to fit the advertising needs of the companies. Marketing managers therefore need to develop new marketing concepts and strategies. In fact, the marketing manager is now the driving force behind the organization since he or she guides all other staff in the creation of marketing plans. This shift in the paradigm of marketing away from traditional approaches has resulted in the rise of social marketing strategies and the concept of multi-tiered marketing.
The social marketing concept, which is the latest development, places emphasis on building an interactive contact with customers. It differs from traditional marketing concepts because it seeks to identify and influence consumers through their social networks such as their friends, relatives and colleagues. Multi-tier distribution channels using the Internet is a modern concept that enables retailers to reach multiple consumers through the same product.
The concept of integrated marketing is the most recent development and it aims to combine the basic marketing strategies of marketing of products and services with other elements such as advertising, selling the brands and financing. Integrated marketing strategies aim at promoting the brands through various marketing devices and channels. For instance, the use of interactive TV and Internet provides the perfect platform for marketers to showcase the goods and services offered by their companies. Multi-tier distribution channels also provide an opportunity to consumers to purchase multiple goods and services from a single organization. Hence, marketing concepts have changed from a one-dimensional approach to a two-dimensional approach that includes both technological and social elements.