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What is marketing?

At its basic level, marketing is about determining the value of your product or service and communicating that information to customers.

Table of Contents

Who is your customer?

Before you begin selling something, you need to know who you are selling to. When developing a general profile of your customers, you might want to define them by their demographic characteristics, such as:

For example, a clothing manufacturer may consider a number of possible target markets — toddlers, athletes, grandparents, teenagers and tourists. A general profile of each of these potential markets will reveal which ones are most realistic, pose less risk and are more likely to show a profit. A test market survey of the most likely target groups, or those who buy for them, such as parents for babies and toddlers, can help you separate real target markets from unlikely possibilities.

Once you have defined your target customers, you must learn about their needs and preferences.

Those are just a few of the many things you may want to learn about your prospective customers.

To develop a profile of your customers and understand their needs, you will have to do some market research.

The Four Ps

Will anyone buy what you're selling?

Marketing experts say that there are four factors that influence purchasing decisions. These four factors are known as the marketing mix or the four Ps:

How successful you are at these four elements will strongly influence your business' revenues.

Note: In this section, we use the word "product" to mean both "goods" and "services".


What are you going to sell?

In order to determine what you should be selling, you must understand your target customer's needs and then tailor your product to meet those needs. The more you are able to fulfill your customers' expectations, the better the chances that they will buy from you, recommend you to others and come back again in the future.

Some key considerations when designing your product include:

You also have to consider what stage in its lifecycle your product is at. This can have a significant influence on your sales and profitability.


How much can you charge for your product?

The price that you charge will influence the number of sales and the amount sold. If your price it too low, it may appear that the product is of lower quality or you may simply make too little profit. If your price it too high, customers may buy fewer items or in smaller quantities.

To determine the right price, you should consider:


Where will people buy your product?

Place refers to both where you are going to sell your product and how you are going to distribute it.

Whether you are just getting started in business, considering new distribution methods or trying to sell your products abroad, you may find these additional resources helpful.


How will people find out about your product?

For people to buy your product, they need to be aware of it, have a positive impression of it, and be convinced that they need or want it. There are a wide variety of tactics you can use to promote your product to prospective clients, including:

Determining which approach is right for your business depends on your budget and on your target customer. You want to be sure that you are promoting your product where people will see it and where you will get the greatest exposure possible for the money spent (also known as "return on investment").

Your product packaging is also an important part of your promotion tactics, especially if your product is going to be sitting on a shelf next to competitive products. You need to think about:

The message that you use and the brand image that you develop are critical to getting people to know and like your product. Your message needs to convince consumers that they need or want your product, and that it will bring them value. Your brand has to be engaging enough that they remember it and think of your business and product when making purchasing decisions or recommending products to their friends.

How does marketing interact with the rest of your business?

Marketing is not a stand-alone activity. It is integrated with all other functions of your business.

As you can see, marketing is far from an isolated business activity. It needs to be a key consideration in all types of business decisions.

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