Your marketing team's efforts are influenced by various factors, not all of which can be controlled. Three main "environments" or categories for these factors are internal environments, micro environments and macro environments. Understanding how these environments can affect your marketing efforts helps you mitigate risk, take advantage of opportunities and make other strategic decisions.
Internal Marketing Environment
The internal marketing environment is the only environment in which the marketing team can often leverage some control, because it is made up of the basic policies, procedures and operations within the business. Items to consider in your internal marketing environment include:
- Current Strategy: The first factor to evaluate in your internal marketing environment is your current strategy. What are its strengths and weaknesses? Does the current strategy work? Or does it leave a lot to be desired? These may overlap with some of the additional bullet points below.
- Employee Skills: What are your employees really good at? What do they struggle with? Maybe your team is technically skilled but lacks the kind of innovative and creative thinking that can launch your campaigns into overdrive.
- Capabilities: Instead of looking at the skills of individual employees, now consider the skills or capabilities of the entire company as a whole. What does the company do extremely well? How can you promote or leverage these core competencies in your marketing campaigns?
- Top Management Values: The attitude of the CEO can absolutely impact your marketing campaigns. Does the top management approve of taking bold risks? Or do they prefer that you stick to tried-and-true tactics?
- Stakeholder Goals: Stakeholders can take the form of the board of directors, high-profile investors and everyday consumers of your company's products or services. What are their goals? What do they want to see from your company and how does that translate into a marketing approach?
- Additional Resources: What other resources are at your fingertips? Specifically, what are your advantages? Maybe you already have a large customer base, which makes it possible to send email marketing campaigns to many people at once. Or perhaps you have great funding, which allows you to invest in the absolute best in terms of advertising placement, content writing, photographs, videos, etc.
If your internal environment proves too combative, you will be swimming against the current when you try to produce quality marketing campaigns. You will be most successful when you have the skills, capabilities and resources that you really need, plus a supportive management team to back you up. You can attempt to influence your internal marketing environment by having an open conversation with management, hiring employees with specific skills, etc.
Difference Between Micro- and Macro-Environments
Before we dive into the elements that make up the next two marketing environments, it is important to differentiate a micro-environment and a macro-environment.
A micro-environment involves factors that can impact your business on a daily basis. These are usually industry-specific.
A macro-environment looks at the forces that can impact your business over time. These are usually regional, national or even global factors.
This difference between micro- and macro-environments necessitates a strategy for both, but with unique details.
Examples of a Marketing Micro-Environment
You need to evaluate your micro-environment in order to understand whether your sales funnel will be effective. Each of these elements has the potential to affect whether or not your customers feel satisfied. Here is how:
- Suppliers: Does your purchasing department work with multiple suppliers? When the supply market is diverse, there is competition for your business, which means you can shop around for a good price or even negotiate a discount. You can also turn to a back-up supplier if one runs out of stock. However, if you only have one supplier, they have the power to bring your business to a halt if they run out of the products you need. In turn, you cannot provide those products to your customers, which results in their dissatisfaction. Diversify your suppliers to prevent this.
- Resellers: Resellers and distributors are third parties who present your product to the public. In order to establish trust in your brand, you want to associate your company with trustworthy distributors. For example, if a store has a reputation for selling cheap, low-quality items, do you want your product to appear there? How customers view distributors has an effect on how they view your brand.
- Competitors: Your competitors vie for the attention of your customers on a daily basis. What do they do that makes them more or less attractive? Study their tactics to determine what kinds of proactive measures you can take. You have strengths and weaknesses, but so do your competitors. Learn how to use your strengths to combat their weaknesses and bring more customers your way.
Some marketing experts also classify employees and shareholders as part of the micro-environment, especially in terms of how they influence the public's perception of your brand. For example, do your employees offer good customer service?
6 Macro-Environments Considered in Marketing
Now let us take a look at the macro-environments, which a marketing team has no control over but nonetheless can study for a risk management plan.
- Demographics: As a marketer, you know how important it is to create a buyer persona, which includes demographic factors like age, household income, education level and cultural values. These demographics can change, and your marketing efforts need to change accordingly. For example, Facebook was once the playground of college students, but now it has a much more diverse user base. Imagine if Facebook's marketing team never bothered to adapt to those changes and continued to only market to college students. So much potential would be lost.
- Politics: Legislation can potentially impact your business, whether it be in the form of new regulations, taxes, subsidies, etc. Some political changes can be good, and some can be detrimental. For example, farmers can benefit from laws that allow industrial hemp to be grown in their area, as this gives them a new and competitive resource to introduce to the market. But they also have to be wary of losing subsidies or paying a new tax rate.
- Economics: If the dollar suddenly depreciated in value, would anyone buy your product? If you provide a luxury item, your business could be severely impacted in this way. Take into consideration less drastic ebbs and flows in the economy as well.
- Nature: Mother Nature answers to no one, but if you live in an area prone to natural disasters, you can take some measures to protect your investments by building offices and warehouses that can withstand the weather as much as possible. Still, have a natural disaster plan in place. It may seem like marketing would be the last thing on your mind in such a circumstance, but you can leverage it as long as you think ahead and are prepared.
- Technology: Who could have predicted that we would all be carrying calculators, cameras, calendars, games, the Internet and even our work documents around in our pockets? Technology changes rapidly. What is your plan for leveraging those changes?
- Culture and Society: Each generation brings its own values into the mix. So does each region of the world. You may need to change how you market to the up-and-coming generations. For example, do young people factor in the environmental impact of a product before making a purchase? Does your product meet their standards in this way? You will need to do market research to find out, make necessary product changes and then market to them in a way that speaks to their values.
Studying both the micro- and macro-environment in marketing helps to inform each decision you make and leaves you well-prepared for any changes that come your way.
Cathy Habas specializes in marketing, customer experiences, and behind-the-scenes management. Cathy has contributed to sites like Business and Finance, Business 2 Community, and Inside Small Business. She served as the managing editor for a small content marketing agency before continuing with her writing career.