There are a variety of marketing methods available to businesses, individuals, and organizations that are looking to sell or promote a product, service or idea to a wider audience. While the term "marketing method" can theoretically be applied to just about any action that is taken to promote or sell a product, there are a set of common marketing methods that typically comprise most marketing campaigns. These methods include direct marketing, database marketing, advertising, web marketing, promotions, sponsorship, and public relations. Each of these marketing methods has its own benefits and drawbacks, and no one method is superior to the rest by rule. The general rule of thumb when creating a marketing campaign is to select the method or methods that will allow you to deliver the most effective message to the largest portion of your target audience, while still remaining within your budgetary constraints.
Keywords Advertising; Banner Ads; Database Marketing; Differentiating Quality; Direct Marketing; Positioning; Promotion; Public Relations; Search Engine Optimization; Segmentation; Sponsorship; Target Audience
Marketing: Marketing Methods
The marketing process encompasses designing, developing and naming a product, service or idea; determining how it will be priced, packaged, and distributed; creating a campaign for positioning the product in the marketplace; and touting its features and benefits to a target audience.
Virtually any action that is undertaken by a business or an individual to create demand and desire for a product or service could be considered a "marketing method." You are essentially limited only by your own creative imagination.
However, there are a number of commonly used marketing methods that are important to consider. These methods include database marketing, direct marketing, radio, television and print advertising, web marketing, promotions, sponsorship and public relations.
While the largest, loudest and most dramatic marketing campaigns often draw the most attention, they are not necessarily the most cost-effective. For a smart marketer, it is often possible — and far more financially prudent — to develop a targeted marketing plan that is based on a deep understanding of what your message is, who your target audience is, and what marketing methods your target audience is most likely to respond to.
Choosing the right marketing message — and the methods to convey that message — requires a great deal of market analysis and self-examination. It is necessary to determine what is unique about what a company has to offer, what the competition has to offer, and who the target audience is. By gaining a good understanding of these three factors, you will be better equipped to choose the right marketing methods for your campaign.
Determining Differentiating Qualities
The first step in the process is to determine what the differentiating quality or qualities are of the product, service or idea that a company is hoping to promote. Differentiating qualities are those aspects of the product, service or idea that are unique, and thus worthy of the customers' specific attention and consideration.
In her book, "Getting More Business" (1999), Sallyann Sheridan suggests that marketers consider a variety of aspects when it comes to determining the differentiating qualities of the products they are trying to promote. Is there something particularly unique about your location, approach to business, service policy, product guarantees, or customer service that is worth highlighting? Perhaps there is something unique about the selection you offer, how much product you have to offer, or the prices at which you offer goods.
Determining this differentiating quality is easy if a company is trying to promote a brand new invention that no one has ever seen before. But what about a men's clothing store along a busy commercial strip, facing competition from a several other retail outfitters within a short driving distance? Customers in the area have several options to choose from. Why should they visit a specific company?
Factors that could differentiate one company from another could include: selection, better prices, exclusive brands, better customer service, hours of operation, promotions, etc.
Once a company has determined what is special about what it has to offer, and what makes it different from the competition, it can start to think about the audience that it is trying to reach.
Determining the Target Audience
A target audience is a group of individuals that a company has identified as being the most important to reach with the message of a particular marketing campaign. A company determines the target audience through the process of market segmentation — division of a market into smaller, more specialized categories based on a variety of factors, including customer buying habits.
A target audience can vary depending on the purpose of the campaign. If the purpose of the campaign is to generate fast sales, the target audience might be existing customers who are likely to make large purchases quickly. If the purpose of the campaign is to broaden the customer base, the campaign could be targeted to individuals that have been identified as a good fit for the company, or former customers that a company is trying to win back.
The more a company knows about their customers, the easier it will be to create a marketing plan that appeals to them. What factors influence their decision-making habits? What do they like about the company? What do they dislike?
There are many ways to gather information about a company's customers and potential customers. A company can host focus groups, visit trade shows, and talk with those in the company who interact with customers on a daily basis. A company can send out customer satisfaction surveys, or ask for comments on a web bulletin board.
There are now a variety of data-crunching computer software programs, such as SQL, that can be used to collect and analyze a huge repository of information about customer buying habits. Programs like SQL are able to break down consumer information based on a variety of factors, including geographical location, buying habits, buying frequency, most desired products, and so forth. In the past, advertisers targeted audiences by demographic, for example, running commercials aimed at married women of a certain age during weekday soap operas or ads for breakfast cereals and toys during Saturday morning cartoons. With data collection, campaigns can be crafted almost at the individual level, anticipating the likelihood that a consumer will be interested in a product based on their real time activity. Supermarkets can issue instant coupons in response to purchases. Internet browsers and Web sites can populate screens with ads based on recent searches. A diaper manufacturer, for example, does not need to waste marketing dollars advertising to all women in the eighteen to thirty-four year old category but can instead buy ad space on the digital devices of anyone searching for key words indicating pregnancy or the presence of a baby in the consumer's life. Such targeted market is both more efficient (saving dollars) and more effective (increasing sales) (WIND & Nelson-field, 2013). Data collection also helps a company track how well sales are responding to a certain marketing campaign, which is a great help in determining what marketing methods are working, and what aren't.
Choosing a Marketing Method
Once a company knows who it is, who its competition is, who the target audience is, and what it wants its message to be, it can start thinking about what marketing methods will work the best for a campaign.
Choosing the best marketing method is not an exact science. There is always an element of chance that comes with any marketing campaign. A company can, however, vastly improve its chances for success by carefully collecting and studying data about the buying habits of its target audience.
It is also important for an organization to maintain a flexible approach. A company shouldn't commit all of its resources and energy to one method until it has had a chance to gauge its success. It may be necessary to alter or abandon a course of action if it is not producing the desired result, and it always helpful to rethink, refresh and reconfigure an approach from time to time to prevent stagnation.
No matter what methods a company uses, the overall campaign should perform three basic functions. It should implicitly or explicitly set a company apart from the competition, clearly outline the message sent to the target audience, and be crafted in a way that is most likely to generate customer response.
A direct marketing campaign is one that has a specific goal and seeks an immediate response from the customer. Direct marketing can take a variety of forms (including print advertisements, brochures, coupons, and television commercials) but the overall message includes some kind of request: "Ask your cable provider to add the NFL Network to your service package." "Call for free information on this revolutionary exercise machine." "Mail in this subscription card to start receiving National Geographic at home."
The advantage of direct marketing is that it is highly measurable — if a company's campaign desires that the members of its target audience perform a specific task, the effectiveness of the campaign can be gauged by determining how many do what is asked.
One of the drawbacks of a direct marketing campaign is that it is narrow in its focus. A company may lose out on other business opportunities by asking customers to do one specific thing. Direct marketing campaigns can also be expensive to produce, and new regulations on telemarketing and other aspects of direct marketing can make it difficult for marketers to connect with their target audience.
Database marketing is marketing directly to a defined group of individuals, whose addresses and/or contact information have been accumulated in database form.
The advantage of database marketing is that a company can send its message directly to individuals that have already been identified as interested in the product or service being offered.
These individuals could be existing customers, individuals who have expressed interest in company products in the past, customers who have expressed dissatisfaction with company products and services, or individuals that have been identified through research as likely customers for a product.
Clients that have been identified through a database marketing plan can be contacted using a variety of marketing methods, including email, phone calls, letters, catalogs, brochures, or mailings. A company can also market to them by using...
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