Marketing delivers a product that satisfies the needs of a target market at a price that reflects its value. In addition to decisions related to the product, marketing has to decide on elements of the delivery and how to inform the target market of the buying opportunity. You have to integrate all these decisions to make them work together and help with the implementation of an effective marketing initiative. When all the key marketing decisions support one another, you can reach the goals set for the campaign.


Key marketing decisions relate to the product features and characteristics. Market studies show you what the members of the target market value in a product, but some things may be too difficult or too expensive to include. You have to give priority to features and characteristics that add value for the customers but don't cost much for your company to produce. Especially important are features that you can add at a lower cost than your competitors, giving you a competitive advantage.


Companies set a price based on cost, value and competition. You want to set a competitive price for a product that the target market values more highly than the products of your competitors. The price has to cover your costs and generate a profit or, if your strategy is to gain market share, leave room for future price increases and profits. Finally, you have to decide on a price that members of your target market can afford or they will not be able to buy your product.


Once you have decided on product characteristics and price, you have to think about how your customers can buy it. Distribution decisions rely heavily on how you can best reach the target market. If your potential customers spend a lot of time online, a website might be an appropriate sales channel. If they are concentrated in a particular area, a local store might be the best approach. Driving these decisions are customer convenience and the cost of using a particular distribution channel.


Next you have to decide how to inform people in the target market that a product they need is available at a price they can afford and at a convenient location. Advertising is a traditional means of promotion, but it is expensive, especially for smaller companies. Public relations -- the issuing of press releases and publicly promoting your initiative -- is one alternative. Direct marketing, approaching your potential customers directly, is effective. Personal selling -- salespeople interacting with consumers -- works well but doesn't lend itself to high sales volumes. Deciding to use several means of promotion increases the likelihood of success.