Marketing is the means by which your business identifies, anticipates and then satisfies customer demand. If carried out effectively it will not only ensure that your business is seen and heard but will give the business flexibility to adapt to changing customer demands and a changing business environment.
Businesses that really succeed are those where the owner has a vision for the firm and is dedicated to seeing it through. A marketing plan will help achieve focus and establish the vision.
Marketing will help you understand who your potential customers are, place and price the product compared to the competition and also position the company in the market place. It will also help identify future opportunities for self-promotion.
Though there are established guidelines to follow, marketing is more of an art than a science and is a difficult skill to develop. But in terms of successful impact on the future commercial effectiveness of the business, it is worth cultivating. It can offer improved returns and profitability and a greater understanding of realistic business development opportunities.
One of the major problems for startups when considering marketing is quantifying in advance the expected result for a given spend.
But consider Microsoft. While your ambitions may be more modest than that of Bill Gates his company's domination of the software industry is a testament to the power of successful marketing.
Gates targeted potential rivals by undercutting bitter rival, Apple Computers, and at the same time launching a sustained marketing blitz. Today he is the richest man in the world and the PC dominates the home computer market. Industry observers attribute Microsoft's success as much to its marketing as Apple's lack of it.
Don't confuse sales with marketing. It is a common enough mistake for any small business to lump sales together with marketing under the perception that the two disciplines are different heads of the same beast. This is because tactics can overlap. However, they are not the same.
The mission of sales is to increase turnover through a number of tricks such as margin reductions, discounts, two for the price of one, special offers and so on. The mission of marketing is to identify the market, build the company and promote the product.
Marketing, which attempts to embrace the two areas is a complex, expensive and resource intensive activity. In the long run it is far more productive to have a dedicated marketing manager or assign the task to a marketing team.