Basic Principles of Marketing

by Anam Ahmed - Updated October 16, 2018
Businesswoman working on whiteboard at brick wall in office

Businesses of all sizes in all industries need to market their products and services to their target audience. Whether your company makes handmade children’s clothing or you operate a nail salon, you will find that effectively marketing your product or service is the best way to catch the attention of your consumers and increase sales.

There are many basic principles of marketing, but five of the most important are understanding the problems of your consumer, learning about your ideal market, demonstrating the value of your product or service, generating leads and building relationships.

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In order to market effectively, a business needs to focus on the four essential areas of product, price, place and promotion, which are also known as the marketing mix. By controlling these aspects, organizations can satisfy the needs of their customers, which helps them to increase sales and revenue. The marketing mix, which is sometimes called the four P’s of marketing, consists of the foundational strategies marketers use to reach their goals.

What Are the Principles of Marketing?

One of the fundamental principles of marketing involves understanding the problems of your consumer. What is the issue that your customers are trying to solve, and how does your product or service attempt to solve that problem better than your competitors? Many businesses fall into the trap of talking about their process or features in their marketing materials instead of focusing on the benefits for which the consumers are looking. Many customers don’t care about how you solve their problem as long as you are actually solving the problem itself.

For example, if you’re a massage therapist, instead of focusing on the hot stones you use in your therapy, center your marketing message on how relaxed your massage will make the customer feel. The benefit of a massage is relaxation, not the use of hot stones. If the problems your consumers are feeling are tension and stress, they will want to hear more about the result of relaxation rather than your methods.

In line with understanding the problems your consumers are facing, another principle of marketing is creating a detailed picture of your ideal buyer. Who are the people you want to target with your message? It’s important to know their demographics, income, location, means of transportation, interests, motivations and goals because that way you can target your marketing message to them in a more specific way. For example, if you have done your research and determined that your ideal clients for your massage clinic are working moms with young children who live in your neighborhood, you can target your customers more effectively. In this case, you can talk in your marketing materials about how hard it can be on your back and shoulders to lift children after working at a computer all day, getting to the heart of the issue your customers are facing.

Demonstrating the value of your offering is a key principle of marketing. There are a few ways businesses can do this. Companies can offer free samples of products so customers can try them before making a commitment. Small businesses can share information and ideas around their area of expertise to build credibility. One of the most effective ways to demonstrate value is through social proof, otherwise known as testimonials. Consumers trust the word of other people like them; they want to know if your product or service has worked for others who have faced the same problem they have. In the example of the massage therapist who caters to working moms, a good way to demonstrate the value of the service would be to gather and share testimonials from previous customers.

Generating leads is one of the most important principles of marketing. To do this, businesses need to motivate qualified prospects to trust them enough to share their contact information so they can receive marketing materials. By having a pool of prospects with whom to share marketing materials, businesses will always have the opportunity to convert leads into customers. The massage therapist can offer free tips on her website about how to relax the back and shoulders in exchange for the prospects’ email address.

Building relationships is likely the most important principle of marketing because customers want to buy from companies they trust. In order to build trust, businesses need to show that they care about the consumers and that they fully understand the problems they are going through. If you’re the massage therapist catering to working moms, try offering a monthly newsletter with tips on how to balance family and work, stretches they can do at the office and techniques to help with aching neck muscles. By showing you care about the pain they feel, the consumers may be more inclined to trust you the next time they want to get a massage.

What Are the Four Basic Marketing Strategies?

The fundamentals of marketing are based on the four P’s: product, price, place and promotion. By controlling these aspects and turning them into strategies to meet their goals, businesses can successfully capture the attention of their customers. For marketing to be successful, businesses have to ensure that these four elements of the marketing mix work together in unison.

A product can refer to a physical good, such as a beaded necklace or an automotive part. Product can also refer to an intangible service, such as health coaching or house cleaning. Businesses need to clearly define their products by focusing on how they help their target audience. What aspects of the product help to solve the problem their ideal consumers are having? By identifying this information, businesses can effectively create messaging that appeals to their customers. Aspects such as branding, quality and packaging also fall under the product umbrella. One of the most important elements of working on the product includes differentiating it from competitive products on the market.

After creating the product, businesses need to establish the price. In simple terms, the price is how much money the business expects the customer to pay in exchange for the product. Figuring out the price involves more than knowing how much the product costs to make. Businesses need to do market research and see how much customers are willing to pay for similar products on the market. In addition, it’s important to decide whether you will price your product above, below or at the market average. Whatever the decision, it’s important to create a message that clearly communicates that value to the consumer. Aspects such as discounts, price flexibility and price sensitivity also need to be considered.

Place refers to where the product will be sold. This can include brick-and-mortar retailers, online stores or nontraditional channels such as pop-up shops or market stalls. The distribution of the product is a key element of this aspect of the marketing mix. Not only do marketers need to figure out where to sell the product, but they also need to devise a plan to get the product into the hands of the consumer. This may involve transporting the product from the manufacturer to the wholesaler and then to the retailer, where it can then be purchased by the consumer, or it may involve directly shipping from the manufacturer to the consumer after purchasing it from a website.

Lastly, promotion is arguably the most popular element of the marketing mix and is what most people think of when they think about marketing. Promotion refers to communicating valuable information about your brand and product to the consumer. There are five distinct channels for promotion: advertising, public relations, direct marketing, personal selling and sales promotion. Each channel helps businesses to achieve different goals. For example, advertising is used to reach a broad audience, whereas direct marketing is used to reach a small, specific group of people. By working on each of the four elements of the marketing mix, businesses can develop marketing strategies that help them capture their audience's attention and sell their product.

What Is the Process of Marketing?

People often think of marketers as going by their gut feel and making big decisions based only on instinct. While marketing certainly is considered an art in many ways, it is also scientific. Marketers follow a clear process when developing marketing strategies.

One of the basics of marketing management is that businesses need to analyze the situation. This includes identifying the customers’ problems and needs and looking at the current market. In addition, the business needs to understand its own limitations in terms of resources, budget and organizational factors. External aspects such as the financial climate and distribution issues also need to be considered. After completing the situational analysis, the business needs to develop a summary of the problems they may face by releasing the product in addition to the potential opportunities that will be available to them.

The next step is to develop a marketing strategy. This involves conducting detailed market research to understand the different audience segments the business serves, targeting specific problems the audience faces, positioning the product to meet consumer needs and establishing the value of the product to the consumer.

After the marketing strategy has been created, the business needs to make tactical decisions based on the four elements of the marketing mix. This includes product development, pricing decisions, location and distribution handling and promotional campaign development.

Finally, the last step in the marketing process involves implementing the plans and executing the strategy. The marketers’ job isn’t over once the marketing strategy has been put into place. Instead, businesses need to constantly monitor their marketing campaigns and make changes as the market shifts. By adapting to the changing landscape and analyzing their metrics closely, businesses can ensure their strategies will be successful.

Why Every Business Needs to Do Marketing

All businesses need to market their brand and their products because doing so comes with many benefits. Small businesses can increase brand awareness through marketing. In addition, they can establish brand loyalty and develop a following for their company that includes prospects and customers who trust them. They can do this by sharing valuable information about their industry for free. Through marketing, companies can establish credibility and expertise in their specific industry, which helps create authority. This helps customers to remember the business in comparison to their competitors.

Through clear messaging, marketing helps businesses to educate and inform their customers about the many benefits their product provides. Depending on the promotional vehicle used, such as social media, marketing can also open a two-way channel of communication between customers and businesses. This kind of communication helps customers to develop a relationship with the business and see them as human instead of a faceless corporation.

Once the customers know how the product can help solve their problems and they establish trust with the business, customers are more inclined to buy. As a result, marketing helps businesses to increase sales and revenue by helping customers to make the purchasing decision. While the benefits of marketing are endless, it’s important to remember that without marketing, customers likely wouldn’t know the business exists. Marketing is a fundamental aspect of running any business, regardless of industry, size or location.

About the Author

Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing articles for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.

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