In a company, there are many coexisting functional areas that make business work properly: management, finances, administration, production/operations, quality, marketing, human resources, project management, process, logistics. In order to reach its organizational objectives, it is vital that all these areas have the same purpose and business strategy.
Next, we are going to delve into the Marketing Area: what is it, which are its main functions, its biggest challenges, etc.
What is Marketing?
Marketing refers to the activities that a company does to foster the buying or selling of a product or service. Marketing includes advertisements, selling and delivery of products to consumers or other companies. Part of the marketing tasks is carried out by affiliates on behalf of a company.
Marketing as a discipline involves every action that a company carries out to attract customers and establish a relationship with them. Creating a bond with past or potential customers is also part of the job and it can involve writing thank-you e-mails, playing golf with possible customers, returning phone calls and e-mails quickly, and meeting customers to grab a cup of coffee or have lunch.
Basically, marketing tries to make that the products and services of a company coincide with the customers who want to get access to those products and services; eventually, this leads to profitability.
What does the Marketing area do?
The professionals working in the marketing and advertising areas of a company look for drawing key potential customers' attention through advertising. These advertisements are aimed at a particular audience and they can include celebrities' support, catchy phrases and slogans, packaging, unforgettable graphic designs, and general exposure in the media.
4 Ps of marketing
Product, Price, Place and Promotion are the four Ps of Marketing. They represent the essential combination that a company needs to commercialize a product or service. Neil Borden was responsible for making popular this idea of the marketing mix and the Four Ps in the 1950s.
The product is the article (or articles) that the company plans on offering to its customers. The product should cover an absence in the market or satisfy the consumer's demand for a greater amount of a product that is already available. Before preparing an adequate campaign, marketing specialists must understand what product they are selling, how it is better than the one from its competitors, if the product can be combined with a secondary one or with a line of products and if there are alternative products in the market.
The price of the product refers to how much money it is worth. The moment the company sets the price, it has to take into account the unit cost, the marketing cost and the distribution cost. Companies also have to consider the price of the products of the competition in the market and whether the proposed price is good enough to represent a reasonable alternative for consumers.
Place makes reference to the distribution of the product. The most important factors to have in mind here is whether the company is going to sell the product online, in a physical store or if it will use both distribution channels. If the product is sold in a store, what positioning will it get? and if it is sold online, what digital positioning will it get?
Promotion, the fourth P, is the integrated campaign of marketing communication. It includes a wide range of activities such as advertising, selling, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing and guerrilla marketing.
Promotions vary according to the part of the life cycle the product is in. Marketing specialists know that consumers associate the price and the distribution of a product with its quality so they have it in mind when designing the overall marketing strategy.
History and evolution of Marketing
Marketing ideas, as we know them today, began during the Industrial Revolution. This period extended from the 18th century until the 19th century. It was a time of rapid social changes caused by scientific and technological innovations.
It was during the Industrial Revolution that the purchase of goods became easier than its manufacture. Mass production brought about many committed industries to satisfy the needs of a growing market of consumers.
Transport infrastructure and mass media strengthened which created the need for producers to find better ways of developing the products that customers required. This led to a more sophisticated approach to let them know about these basic products.
From the beginning of the 20th century until the end of the 1940s, competition in the business world intensified and that is why the use of marketing techniques to boost sales became an essential part of competitiveness. The ability to develop a trade and commercialize it correctly increased in value.
Competition also encouraged the need for an increase in production and market shares in every industry. Marketing began to highlight distribution methods as well as the types of communication with the consumer. The goal became to persuade consumers that the goods and services offered by one company were better than those offered by another one.
From the 1960s on, the markets of many industries filled up with competition. The need for grabbing and retaining customers required the ability of direct marketing specialists, so companies began to devote entire areas of their business to commercialize their products and services.
It was then when marketing developed such importance in the company's success that marketing managers began to get involved in strategic planning. Their contribution was very important to determine costs, methods used to communicate information about products and services to consumers, among other things.
The marketing world began to change during the 1990s; whenever a product or service was developed, a brand was created automatically. Companies realized that they could focus on selling more high-quality products and create a better brand.
The result of this was that companies achieved an improvement in their margin and their reputation since their brands were becoming famous. Some private label companies could increase their market share by more than 49%.
Websites became a vital tool for commercializing products. At the end of the 1990s, companies' websites began to emerge; first, they were text-based and were used to give information about the products and services that a company offered.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
In the past 25 years, the web and search engines became very important for marketing. At first, web search engines were not very efficient since getting a good ranking was complicated with these engines: results were very easy to change and their quality was very poor.
Eventually, search engines modified their algorithms in order to provide higher-quality results.
The goal was to validate reference sites to guarantee the quality of the results provided by the search engine. Nowadays, it is almost impossible to manipulate SEO classification and when somebody tries to do it, their company is at risk of having the results of their brand buried when they are searched in an engine.
Marketing methodologies: inbound/outbound.
Both concepts originated simultaneously in 2005 to name the inbound marketing methodology and to differentiate it from the traditional marketing methods (outbound marketing).
Inbound marketing combines non-intrusive marketing and advertising techniques with the aim of attracting customers by offering them value-added content and relevant experiences. On the other hand, outbound marketing is the group of marketing actions that aim at attracting customers but with direct and one-way methods.
- Inbound marketing: focuses on both users and potential customers. It tries to catch their attention by offering value-added content. It attracts customers without stalking them through digital media (websites, social media, search engines, etc.) trying to get in touch with them. This way, you focus on the needs of the future customer and try to satisfy them. You reach a more qualified public and you do not underestimate your potential customers since you acknowledge that they can research on their own and make their own decisions.
- Outbound marketing: focuses on both the brand and the product by showing its characteristics and advantages. It is invasive since it interrupts customers by providing information they did not ask for only for commercial purposes. It uses traditional methods such as radio, television, press, and e-mail to get to the customer. Its characteristics are one-way and impersonal communication since users cannot exchange views with their interlocutor because he/she is not talking to them but to the general public.
Functions of the marketing area
- Market and competition research.
- Planning and development of marketing strategies.
- Sales promotion.
- Boosting smarketing process.
Next, we are going to describe each of the functions of the marketing area of a company.
A - Market and competition research.
We need to carry out detailed research at this point. The first thing we need to research is the necessary information about the market, the distribution of the product and the mass media that you will use to promote it. The most important things to analyze are consumers' needs, preferences, tastes, wishes, and habits.
At this point, marketing experiments should be carried out, such as market studies with tools to sound consumers' needs out or to create new consumption needs.
The second thing to do research on implies knowing how a product works or how a service works, which are its opportunity areas, what are the promotions associated with its acquisition, and for how long.
The third thing to research is competitors paying attention to their strategies to anticipate their actions. Thanks to this assessment and analysis, you can detect your main competitors, you can learn how to identify them, which is their target market, their main strategies, their capacity, strengths and weaknesses.
The data resulting from this research also help other areas to make production decisions since this information allows them to orient the objectives you want to achieve, making the product as competitive as possible.
B- Planning and development of marketing strategies.
The managers of the marketing area should do marketing planning based on strategies that allow you to achieve the proposed goals of the company. As stated early, marketing strategies tend to be divided into four sections: product, price, place and promotion.
In the first stage, a strategy is designed to accomplish objectives connected to consumers' satisfaction. Later, the development of the planning is implemented by distributing resources, assigning tasks, coordinating activities and carrying out actions.
During the development of the strategies, you should keep control of the activities so that they are implemented according to how they were set in the established time. In order to do this, you should assess constantly both the individual and group performance of the people in charge of the project.
The assessment consists in checking if the established goals are being achieved; otherwise, you should come up with a new corrective plan that guides your goals again.
C- Sales promotion.
It informs consumers about the products or services of the company, encouraging them to get these products or services. It can be done through these methods:
- Digital advertising.
- Physical advertising.
- Personal sale or special advertising in particular places or media.
Marketing managers are in charge of deciding which advertising method they are going to implement based on the resources available in the company.
The last function of the marketing area is oriented to the diffusion of the sales promotion which involves communication with the target audience as well as with the customers. It becomes more important to get in touch with potential customers through media that is useful for this and in harmony with the characteristics of the products and services offered and with the value of the brand.
Marketing professionals will find a way to be forceful, convincing, and appealing so that they persuade the audience to which the advertising strategy is directed.
E- Boosting smarketing process.
It is the process that combines both sales and marketing processes. Its main goal is that sales and marketing functions have a common integrated approach.
According to a study made in 2010, this action can foster the annual growth of the company up to 2%.
Now, what functions does smarketing process have within the marketing area?
- It attracts the audience: The main goal of the marketing team in smarketing processes is to attract and draw the audience. This can only be achieved by implementing an adequate strategy that makes you stand out from your competitors.
- It motivates interactions: The marketing team together with the sales team will have to define the buyer persona who is a semi-fictional representation of the target audience and, then, the customers that they want to attract. Moreover, the marketing area produces interesting content focused on a community to which it is directed. It also multiplies digital channels to have more possibilities of attracting customers which is vital to help the sales team.
- Full-time communication: the marketing team maintains constant communication with users and the audience (visitors, leads, prospects and customers). It creates content, plans and implements different strategies to encourage the conversion from leads to customers.
- It guides the leads: all marketing content and efforts are directed to communicate to and, mainly, attract potential customers who visit a site and subscribe to receive value material through the use of inbound philosophy. When these leads have been qualified by the marketing team, they will be derived to the sales team who will communicate with them more directly, prioritizing the needs that motivated their visits to the website and reading of the content.
- It continues creating opportunities: this is achieved by keeping on producing value content and publishing it on social media and the blog. It can also be accomplished by optimizing SEO searches by adding the most searched keywords.
Main issues in the area
Companies have problems such as everybody else does. Something that is very common is that marketing is not on the same page as the sales area because their strategies are not aligned and they cannot agree on a plan that combines goals and challenges proposed to enter the market. Next, we will list the most common problems that you can encounter:
- Inability to explain the product.
- Inability to find your market segmentation.
- Business invisibility.
- Incoordination between marketing and sales.
- Not having a good marketing plan.
- Not having enough online presence.
- Showing ROI on the marketing action.
- Calculating and assuring a budget that is enough for every campaign.
- Optimizing the website to produce sales.
- Identifying the correct tools for the needs of the company.
- Knowing ecommerce.
- Training the marketing team.
- Managing content for the buyer persona.
- Adapting to the contingencies that the pandemic caused (remote work and home office).
Marketing area members
Defining the people who are in charge of these functions is not that simple so we often ask ourselves "what does a marketing team do?." As it is widely known, this will always depend on the way in which each company needs to work. The members who stand out the most in this area are organized as follows:
Chief Marketing Officer-CMO (Marketing manager)
The person in charge of coordinating the team members and of developing the strategic vision of the team according to the goals of the company. His/her main tasks, together with the team, include managing and developing every activity related to the attraction of prospects, brand promotion, events, PR, among others.
At the same time, he/she gets together regularly with the managers and the rest of the team to analyze the business status and how marketing strategies are contributing to the achievement of the goals of the company.
Social media manager
This person is in charge of the correct profile administration of the social media of the company. Besides, he/she develops strategies that support the goals of the company throughout the user journey.
Strategist and copywriter
This person is in charge of developing all the content that is published on the company's blog. Moreover, he/she works together with the SEO team to establish which topics he/she will deal with in a particular month; he/she also works with the rest of the teams to look for editorial opportunities.
This person is in charge of the analysis of the whole SEO ecosystem. He/she identifies the organic opportunities for the blog and the search words which the company could use to produce content. He/she mainly manages the growth of the organic presence in the SERP.
This person is in charge of marketing automation: when a lead downloads a content offer, the conversion from lead to MQL, blog notifications, among others. He/she allows the prospects delivery between marketing and sales is done organically and with no friction thanks to a nutrition of leads process accordingly elaborated.
Importance of the marketing area in a company
First of all, the marketing area is in charge of developing sales strategies that will help the company to be placed in a profitable place within the market by putting it on the map, improving the offer, increasing the sales and utilities, optimizing resources and, especially, encouraging the customers' fidelity to the products or services.
The main function of the marketing area is to communicate the value of a product, the brand service to a particular segment of the public in order to fulfill a final goal: promoting or selling the products, services, or brand. It gathers the facts and factors that have an influence on the market in order to create the content that the consumer needs.
Moreover, the marketing team can intervene and make decisions in other areas, such as production, and determine if the product is discarded or modified according to the consumers' needs.
For these reasons, it is vital the existence of a marketing department from the beginning of the company and during its expansion to other markets because it allows the company to assess the future possibilities of it as well as helping create policies to attract customers by advertising the products or services.
Many times, it is possible that the marketing area is dependent on other areas such as the commercial area, or it could be that its functions are divided among many departments that include marketing, communication, and advertising: It all depends on the company's needs.
In some companies, there is only one of these departments but in some others, especially in larger ones, work can be more demanding and this is why these departments should be completely differentiated to avoid complications with the information. In the end, all areas collaborate to create more sales and generate a great customer experience.
In conclusion, the marketing area is in charge of creating content to attract more customers and making potential customers that visit the website of the company become real customers once the marketing area has approved them as qualified leads.
It has a team made up of a marketing leader, a person in charge of diffusing and managing social media information, a content editor, and one more person in charge of automating the processes of the area.
As we previously explained, it works in accordance with the sales area and, together, they design strategies to achieve greater profitability in the company by fulfilling the marketing and commercial objectives proposed in particular campaigns.