Marketing manages the business processes involved in creating products and getting them to customers. In practical terms, it encompasses the Four Ps of the "marketing mix" -- product, price, place and promotion -- to identify and communicate value to the target market. Each of the six fields of marketing falls within this marketing mix.
Market research entails collecting, analyzing and interpreting information about what people buy and why they buy it. Tools such as market analysis, surveys, focus groups and product testing help companies identify markets for their products so that they can direct their marketing efforts and dollars to the target groups most likely to buy. Market research also identifies potential barriers customers face in entering the market and suggests ways to overcome them.
Brand, or product, management is devoted to conceptualizing products and getting them to market. Branding management includes market research, research and development, production, distribution, advertising and sales.
Advertising uses the media to communicate a product's value. It involves both a creative process and an analytic one. The creative process conceptualizes ad campaigns and designs and produces the ads themselves. The analytic processes identify the best media outlets in which to place ads and develop and track metrics to measure the ads' effectiveness.
Public relations is closely related to advertising but rather than focus on products, it focuses on the company's public image. Public relations messages communicate the company's values and its activities and achievements that illustrate adherence to those values.
Promotion builds relationships between wholesalers and retailers and uses incentives to entice customers to purchase a product. Incentives include discounts, samples and other tools that add value and make an offer too good to refuse.
Sales manages the process of getting products to the customer. It presents the personal "face" of a company and its products -- the sales rep -- to customers in an effort to get them to purchase, and then ensures that the purchase is delivered. Relationship-building is a vital sales function, as it takes fewer resources for a company to keep an existing customer than to replace one.
Retailing is a sales function that puts a company's products directly before an end user rather than a wholesaler who'll act as a go-between for the company and the end user. Merchandising, which uses information gleaned from market research about what arrangement of products and what decor and atmosphere in a store entice customers to purchase, is an important aspect of retailing.