Marketing Strategy - Marketing Process - Kotler's Description

Planning at the corporate level, division and business levels is an integral part of the marketing process. Businesses are engaged in delivering value at a profit to customers. This value delivery process can be initiated through a technological development and the producer hires people to make and sell. In this type of value delivery process, marketing takes place in the second half of the value delivery process.

But a more rational value delivery process is doing marketing at the beginning. There is homework or initial work to be done by marketing before a product is conceptualized or designed. The marketing staff have to identify the potential market for the likely product (product idea) and must segment the market and select the appropriate target segment and then only product can be finalized for its specific attributes. Kotler emphasized that segmentation, targeting, positioning (STP) is the essence of strategic marketing.

Once the business unit accepts to offer the value proposition supported by marketing as well as operations, further marketing activities include detailed product specifications, distribution system and price decisions. At the next stage, the value proposition is to be communicated in the market so that there are enough potential customers who are aware of the product and will be inclined to buy the product for the trial. Advertising through mass communication channels, public relations, personal selling and sales promotion campaigns are launched in this stage to make actual sales.

To carry out the three marketing activities outlined at the three stages, marketing managers follow the marketing process.

The marketing process consists of analyzing marketing opportunities, developing marketing strategies, planning marketing programs, and managing the marketing effort. (Kotler)

Analyzing Marketing Opportunities

Periodically, marketing managers have to analyze the long-run opportunities in the market or economic environment for improving the unit's performance. These opportunities can be for new products. Marketers have to conduct formal research using secondary sources followed by personal, phone, mail surveys, which are further supported by focus groups. The data collected is analyzed by statistical tools to identify the effects of various marketing activities. In the marketing research, information related to long-term activities of competitors is also to be collected understood.

Developing Marketing Strategies

The information collected from the marketing research process to support marketing strategy decisions has to be analyzed to find stable and distinct market segments. The needs and potential of each segment needs to estimated and the segment that the market can serve best and make optimal profit is to be determined. For this selected target segment, differentiation decision for the product offered is to be arrived at and positioning strategy has to finalized. While differentiation can be in multiple attributes, position strategy calls for one or two features to be emphasized in communications so that position is associated with the company's product whenever a potential user thinks of the product.

The differentiation decision gives the signal for full development of the new product. Marketing has further role to play in the new product development process. The marketing strategy related to the product gets modified based on the life cycle stages: introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. The marketing strategy is also influenced by the position the product gets in the competitive market place: leader, challenger, follower and niche player. Internationalization and globalization may become possible or may become necessary at some stage in the product life cycle and marketing strategy may need to redeveloped taking into consideration the expanded market.

Marketing Programs

Marketing strategy decisions have to be converted into marketing allocations of budget and manpower for the marketing tools of the marketing mix.

Marketing mix is a key concept in marketing management and allows orderly thinking of the marketing process.

*Marketing mix is the set of marketing tools that the firm uses to pursue its marketing objectives in the target market. (Kotler)

There are large number of marketing tools. McCarthy provided a categorization for them in terms of four Ps of marketing: Product, price, place and promotion. Under each P, there are number of tools. Some choices are possible in short term frames while some choices may take longer-time. A choice to develop a new product can be implemented in long-term only. To make budget allocations to various possible marketing tools, sales-response functions are developed. The functions indicate how sales would be affected by the various incremental amounts spent on each specific tool.

Product related marketing tools can be related to quality, design,packaging, branding etc.

Price related options or marketing tools would be commissions to wholesalers and retailers, discounts and credit terms.

Place options are related to distribution outlets - online sales, home shopping, mail order shopping, retail stores in neighborhoods and giant malls etc. Multi-brand stores versus single brand stores is also a choice.

Promotion includes personal sales, as well as choice of mass media, events to support and now social media activities.

Marketing strategy making and marketing programs development form the marketing process. Of course these activities are subjected to managerial oversight which is under the activity of managing the marketing effort.

To sum it up Marketing Strategy activity is divided into:

Differentiating and Positioning the Market Offering

Developing New Products

Managing Life-Cycle Strategies

Designing Appropriate Competitive Strategies (Leader, Challenger,, Follower, Nicher)

Designing Global Marketing Strategy

Marketing Programs are explained under

Product related programs

Pricing decisions

Marketing channel decisions

Promotion decisions
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