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Q&A on Marketing
 
By Peter Lowy

What is marketing? Sounds like a trick question, because everybody knows the answer, right? Wrong. Ask 10 people what marketing is and six of them will say it's equivalent to sales. It's not.

Marketing is all the activity you engage in to make sales possible. That includes research, pricing, branding, advertising, public relations, direct mail, as well as various support activities, like customer relations, that enable more sales.

Sure, there's more to it. The following will fill in some of the blanks.

Q: Doesn't marketing just happen?

A: If you create a product, set a price, and tell potential customers about your product, you are engaged in marketing. However, the more deliberate you are, the more successful you will be.

Q: Who is responsible for marketing?

A: Ideally, everyone in your organization. That's because everything you do, from research to production to answering the telephone, should help you make a sale. That said, it's a good idea to have someone coordinate related functions, like advertising and promotion, to ensure a consistent message.

Q: How do you get started?

A: By understanding your business goals. Everything else-who you hire, how you sell, produce, and service, and what you decide to develop-flows from that. So does your marketing program.

Q: How do you set marketing goals?

A: Develop a master plan. Then break it down into individual components and set goals for each. This creates a logical structure and gives you the most control.

Q: How do you know you've done well?

A: Measure everything you do and learn from it. Marketing is a continuous feedback loop shaped by events external and internal to your company.

Q: What makes for great marketing?

A: Whatever helps you achieve, and maybe even exceed, your business goals.

Q: When is your marketing job done?

A: When you no longer want to sell.

Everyone sells-from matchbook makers to university presidents. In all cases, the more competition, the more you need to market.

© Peter Lowy