Bob Smith, Extension Specialist, Forest Products Marketing, Virginia Tech;
Eric Hansen, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Forest Products Marketing, Oregon State University;
David Ola, Graduate Research Assistant, Virginia Tech
Marketing: Why it is Vital to Your Firm
No matter the size of the company, the principles of marketing applied properly can improve one's profitability. Marketing is an evolutionary process that links firms to customers. Marketing encourages the exchange of goods and services for money in a way that is profitable to the firm and satisfying to the customer. The marketing process is constantly being adjusted and tailored to different situations based on three strategic business factors: the company, the customers, and the competition. It is important that wood products' organizations and their managers be aware of how these three factors interact and constantly adjust business strategy.
It must never be over-looked that marketing is the income generating activity of the firm. Marketing is also the function of the firm that reaches out to customers and communicates with them. Regardless of how good the product is, without acquiring satisfied customers, and the business that they generate, wood products' firms will not be able to operate at their optimal profitability level. Marketing is the mechanism through which this can be achieved.
OK, so it's important, but WHAT IS IT?
Somewhere around the time all garbage collectors became sanitation engineers and all janitors became maintenance supervisors, a funny thing happened to a lot of sales people: they became marketing managers, marketing engineers and marketing associates, and some even became marketing representatives. (Blake, 1983)
This quote helps to illustrate just how misunderstood and misused the term marketing really is. It is hard to define and includes such functions as sales, distribution, pricing, promotion, products, and many others. Here is an example of a definition which attempts to encapsulate the many different aspects of marketing: "Marketing is the discovery or identification of needs and the execution of those activities necessary to plan and provide need-satisfying products and services and to price, promote, distribute, and effect exchange of these products at an acceptable cost and in a socially responsible manner" (Shaw and Semenik, 1985).
There are many definitions similar to this one which try to capture everything which marketing actually involves. Most, however, fall short. Others would like to believe that marketing is simply promoting and selling a product. It must be realized that these are simply pieces of the puzzle. And we all know what happens when some of the pieces of a puzzle are lost or ignored; it just doesn't fit together. Another way to view marketing is as a philosophy - "a disciplined way of thinking about organizational goals and their relationship to overall business goals" (Ghosh 1988).
Because of the difficulty in defining this abstract concept called marketing, it is often thought of as a concept. This Marketing Concept is based on two simple objectives. The objectives are aimed at satisfying its customers, while making a profit (McCarthy and Perreault 1987). This is a fairly simple concept that is vital to the success of the firm. Unfortunately, marketing can be difficult at times to implement.
In upcoming sections, we will examine the main functional areas within marketing. Perhaps through a deeper understanding of these areas you will develop your own philosophy of what marketing is.
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