Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD
What is Marketing?Before you learn more about marketing in the many links later on below topic, you should first understand what marketing is, because the topic is so often misunderstood. Marketing is the wide range of activities involved in making sure that you're continuing to meet the needs of your customers and are getting appropriate value in return.
How Marketing is So MisunderstoodFar too often, organizations try to develop a product to meet customers’ needs without ever really verifying what the customers wanted in the first place. Instead, those organizations make a strenuous effort to “sell” the product through rigorous, ongoing advertising, promotions and publicity -- through "outbound" marketing. These organizations may have built a beautiful ladder – but it may be entirely on the wrong roof! Far too often, that lesson comes from painful experience.
Experienced organizations have learned that it is not their opinion that matters most regarding whether their product is needed or not. The opinion that matters most is that of the customers. These organizations have learned that they might not know what they don't know about their customers. That precious knowledge about the customers comes from "inbound" marketing -- through market research to clarify customers' needs and what they are willing to do to get those needs met. If the inbound marketing is done well, the outbound marketing is particularly easy -- and effective.
Inbound Marketing Includes Market Research to Find Out:
- What specific groups of potential customers/clients (markets) might have which specific needs (nonprofits often already have a very clear community need in mind when starting out with a new program -- however, the emerging practice of nonprofit business development, or earned income development, often starts by researching a broad group of clients to identify new opportunities for programs)
- How those needs might be met for each group (or target market), which suggests how a product might be designed to meet the need (nonprofits might think in terms of outcomes, or changes, to accomplish among the groups of clients in order to meet the needs)
- How each of the target markets might choose to access the product, etc. (its "packaging")
- How much the customers/clients might be willing pay and how (pricing analysis)
- Who the competitors are (competitor analysis)
- How to design and describe the product such that customers/clients will buy from the organization, rather than from its competitors (its unique value proposition)
- How the product should be identified -- its personality -- to be most identifiable (its naming and branding)
Outbound Marketing Includes:
- Advertising and promotions (focused on the product)
- Public and media relations (focused on the entire organization)
- Customer service
- Customer satisfaction