Marketing reflections on learning outcomes




The purpose of this case study is to present a brief overview of the
marketing study outcomes and personal interpretation of the key points of
marketing theory covered in this course. The interpretation will be aimed
at emphasizing the practical importance of marketing today.

The idea of marketing must have existed for many centuries. Yet, at the
beginning it probably was not so sophisticated theory as it is today.
Because of the globalization and rapid development of information
technologies people, or market participants, have been urged to systematize
their market experience into a well-organized theory. In our course of
study the marketing has been defined by the term that sounds more specific:
«an approach to business focusing on satisfying customer needs and wants».
To serve its key purpose, the marketing strives to find an answer to such
questions as why customers do not or, conversely, do readily buy products
offered by the sellers, who the ideal buyers are, and what should be done
to have the buyers buy what the sellers offer. In fact, the terms «buyers»
and «sellers» are not absolutely accurate as applied to marketing. To be
more accurate, the marketing approach implies that the business activities
are centered on customer, because the concept of business here means both
profit and non-profit organizations. So, the words «buy» and «products», or
«services», can be identified as the key terms reflecting the idea of
marketing. It should also be noted that the words «buy» and «services»
represent a wide range of services, non-profit activities, and behavior.

The key points of marketing concept are customer satisfaction, profit, and
properly organized efforts to make profit through customer satisfaction. At
the same time, strategically, it is important to understand that a business
can be profitable, or successful, only if it finds a way to satisfy
customers better than its competitors. This means, that today's business
can attract customers only through successful competition. Because of the
highly competitive environment, today it is not enough just to satisfy. The
important thing is to be better. In other words, if a business is unable to
compete, it fails to implement the key marketing ideas simply because such
business will fail to satisfy customers. Moreover, under the competitive
environment it becomes important not only to meet, but also to exceed the
customers' needs. In an organization, the role of marketing concept is more
profound: here the marketing concept implies that everyone's job is to
serve the customers directly, or to serve those who serve the customers.
For example, to contribute to profit through saving costs or, in other
words, to serve the internal customers. This idea is especially important
to emphasize in terms of the roles we may play in an organization in our
day-to-day life: we do not necessarily have to deal with customers directly
to contribute to the common goal of customer satisfaction. But our roles in
it can be significant without doing so.

The key components here are target market (a group of customers to satisfy)
and product mix (product, price, place, and promotion). In real life, these
components boil down to the following objective all businesses need to
fulfill: to increase the number of customers so as to increase sales. To
achieve this goal, the marketing strategy should give us tips on how to do
that. In every particular situation we face in day-to-day life we have to
find answers to specific questions. For example, to sell an accounting
service like filing a personal income tax return we would need to determine
what has to be done to attract customers (Product), what kind of office
would be needed to deliver the service (Place), how much it would cost and
what price would be right (Price), and what should be done to attract more
customers (Promotion). It is easy to see that this pattern would have to be
followed in every real-life situation. Even looking for a job we would have
to be concerned with where we can work (Place), what we can do (Product),
at what remuneration (Price), and how to attract employer's attention to be
employed (Promotion). And in every case we would look for specific
customers who need to have their income tax return filed and a specific
employer who employees specifically like we are (Target market). So, one
way or the other, the marketing strategy will work for our purpose. The
question is just how to identify its components in specific terms as
applied to every specific objective.

Unlike the 4P’s of marketing that can be controlled by us, some
environments are uncontrollable by nature, because we just have no chance
to influence them. They may include, for example, cultural, economic,
legal, political, technological, and social environments. This should not
mean, however, that we should let them control us without any response. To
succeed, businesses have to re-adjust themselves and find the best ways to
work in them. The important point is that we need not only identify them,
but also try to see if there are new opportunities. For example, the
changing demographics inside our country should make us look around to see
how to readjust our products and services to different tastes and
preferences. Internationally, we should always be aware of tariffs and
quotas and estimate our competitive potential. Watching the changes we
develop possible scenarios, make relevant decisions, and get ready to
implement them. What can be the consequences of the war in Iraq for
marketing decisions? Tremendous, to say the least of it. So there are a lot
of things for marketing specialists to think of both internationally and

The supply, demand, and elasticity have a direct impact on marketing
decisions. The low demand may point to the necessity for better promotion
of products and services simply because the consumers may turn out to know
too little about the product, or be unaware of it at all. There would be
little wonder if our specific product is not in demand, even though our
competitors sell the same one very successfully. What if we fail to sell
fresh water in hot summer time? Such paradox is quite possible if we do not
follow simple marketing principle of 4 Ps. In terms of marketing, demand
should not be viewed as something static. Even as applied to fundamentally
new products, it can be created through marketing decisions. To say nothing
of basic needs like fresh water in hot summer. We just have to remember of
4 Ps. The idea of supply in marketing is especially important in terms of
competition: if we fail to provide supply that meets demand, our
competitors will do it for us fast enough to their own advantage. The idea
of demand elasticity is also important in terms of marketing decisions. For
example, inelastic demand for a product usually results from a lack of
substitutes. For this reason, marketing decisions might be aimed at
identifying or creating a new product or service to substitute for the one
with inelastic demand.

In simple terms, the idea of market segmentation (naming and segmenting) is
how not to lose the focus. For this purpose, identifying most promising
consumers is really a critical part of marketing activities. Would it be a
reasonable decision for us to try selling air conditioners in Northern
Territories and snow-removing equipment in South California? Hopefully not.
The idea of positioning is also important in terms of consumers'
psychology. With the diversity of products today, it becomes important to
be able to have a proper understanding of consumer’s needs and attitude, to
see what and why they need and how their needs are satisfied by the
existing market.

The idea of consumer product classifications is important in terms of
understanding how they think of them and what can be the motivation to buy
them. This understanding is really critical, because to project our own
perceptions on what we want to sell should be the last thing to do. Since
the human nature is really a complicated thing, therefore the accumulated
knowledge and observations made by the marketing scientists can be really
helpful in making decisions. This may apply to certain particular classes
of consumers' products like convenience, shopping, specialty, and unsought
products. The useful thing to realize is that in selling a specific product
or service we need to take into account specific qualities they offer, in
terms of both material and psychological implications. Branding is also an
important factor in marketing decisions. The idea of branding is to win
wider and steadier recognition, though in real life a brand would not
necessarily ensure a desired quality. Yet it works and, therefore, should
be taken into account for competitive considerations. One of the important
real life implications here is that to sell a branded product we would have
to think well of what kind of advantages might contrast our product or
service against the competitor’s one. The product life cycle is especially
important to in terms of planning of our marketing activities. For example,
when dealing with a new product on the market it is important to be aware
of the main stages of product’s life. The low sales at the introduction and
market growth stages would affect our marketing decisions in many ways,
specifically in terms of promotion approaches, pricing policies, scale of
production, financing, risk taking, etc.

Intermediaries, as an indirect channel of distribution, play a very
important role in selling, which is one of most critical marketing
functions. In real life it could hardly be possible to properly identify
and effectively use all channels of distribution as they may represent
quite complex ramifications of different channels. For example, for a small
or medium-size production company it just might not be affordable to keep a
large enough marketing department to deal with all problems of products
distribution. Therefore, the services of intermediaries could be
indispensable, even though they may take extra costs. Intermediaries help
us cover larger market sectors. On the other hand, the value of
intermediaries consists in their practical experience in trading. If our
business is focused on production, we may need to concentrate more on
production problems rather than trading, otherwise we lose the focus and
there is always price to be paid for it. So the use of intermediaries might
pay back.

Integrated marketing communications may be defined as what we manage to
achieve through all our efforts to promote a product or service. In simple
terms, it might look like our ability to work out the right way to
influence consumers using our communications skills. The practical approach
(defined in theory as AIDA = Attention + Interest + Desire + Action) could
be basically described as a complex process of informing and persuading. In
other words, we need to design our messages to influence the consumers’
perception about our products. The importance of this ability in real life
can hardly be overestimated. In today’s world of tough competition the
communication process should be viewed as one of key elements of success.
Life is full of practical examples of how the effective communication just
works wonders. In a literal sense, the power of word can just be
materialized. A dentist would not attract many clients without sending a
specific message saying that he or she can do a good job, and accountant
would not attract many customers and would not be employed by a company
without convincing them he is a good specialist.

The important thing the marketing theory makes us understand about pricing
is that it should not be viewed just as adding up the values of costs and
markups guided by supply and demand. Such an approach would be incomplete
to reflect the reality. The process, in real life, is much more complex.
The real economic life makes us set various objectives and choose different
policies. Reasons and objectives may be numerous. To win more customers we
may need first to give them a chance to use our products at affordable
prices to see, for example, that our product is in no way inferior to a
similar branded one, or simply to increase sales. A lawyer or an accountant
beginning a new business might choose to work harder at comparatively low
prices for their services with an objective to gain more popularity and
recognition. Or, besides competitive reasons there can be different
motivations, such as survival. A monopoly may set prices without caring
much about how it affects consumers’ interests because of inelastic demand
for its products: in such a case a monopoly is just not interested in
working harder, because the inelastic demand would reduce its efforts to
zero. In other words, the economic reality requires us to be especially
aware of the problem of pricing. Too many factors have to be taken into
consideration, and, therefore, a very good understanding is needed to
choose the right policies.

The most important conclusion regarding my learning outcomes in this course
of study might be summarized as follows: the complex reality of today's
economic life requires a comprehensive knowledge and profound understanding
of the marketing theory. The great variety of specific marketing decisions
the businesses have to make in day-to-day life always relies not only on
our specific accumulated experience and skills, but also on our learning
process and ability to filter and make use of specific marketing
information in every particular case, be it a small family business or a
large corporation.

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