The basic idea behind the 'marketing concept' - that you make what you can sell rather than sell what you make - does not mean that your product will sell all by itself. Even a good, attractively priced product that clearly satisfies a need has to be made known to its (1) ___ customers. During the introduction and growth stages of the standard product life cycle, the producer (or importer, and so on) has to develop product or brand (2) ___, i.e. inform potential customers (and distributors, dealers and retailers) about the product's existence, its features, its advantages, and so on.
According to the well-known 'Four Ps' formulation of the marketing mix (product, place, promotion and price), this is clearly a matter of promotion. Since budgets are always limited, marketers usually have to decide which tools - advertising, public relations, sales promotion, or personal selling - to use, and in what proportion.
Public relations (often abbreviated to PR) is concerned with maintaining, improving or protecting the image of a company or product. The most important element of PR is publicity which (as opposed to advertising) is any mention of a company's products that is not paid for, in any (3) ___ read, viewed or heard by a company's customers or potential customers, aimed at assisting sales. Many companies attempt to place stories or information in news media to attract attention to a product or service. Publicity can have a huge impact on public awareness that could not be achieved by advertising, or at least not without an enormous cost. A lot of research has shown that people are more likely to read and believe publicity than advertising.
Sales promotions such as free samples, coupons, price reductions, competitions, and so on, are temporary (4) ___ designed to stimulate either earlier or stronger sales of a product. Free samples, for example, (combined with extensive advertising), may generate the initial (5) ___ of a new product. But the majority of products available at any given time are of course in the (6) ___ stage of the life cycle. This may last many years, until the product begins to be replaced by new ones and enters the decline stage. During this time, marketers can try out a number of promotional strategies and tactics. Reduced-price packs in supermarkets, for example, can be used to attract price-conscious brand-switchers, and also to counter a promotion by a competitor. Stores also often reduce prices of specific items as loss leaders which bring customers into the shop where they will also buy other goods.
Sales promotions can also be (7) ___ at distributors, dealers and retailers, to encourage them to stock new items or larger quantities, or to encourage off-season buying, or the stocking of items related to an existing product. They might equally be designed to strengthen brand (8) ___ among retailers, or to gain entry to increase their activities in selling a particular product.
Personal selling is the most expensive promotional tool, and is generally only used sparingly, e.g. as a complement to (9) ___ . As well as prospecting for customers, spreading information about a company's products and services, selling these products and services, and assisting customers with possible technical problems, salespeople have another important function. Since they are often the only person from a company that customers see, they are an extremely important (10) ___ of information. It has been calculated that the majority of new product ideas come from customers via sales representatives.
HOW MANY Ps?
Although most marketers talk about the four Ps, one marketing research student has suggested that there are in fact eight more. Vivien Keller, an MBA student at Midrand University in South Africa, says that a service-orientated economy requires a marketing mix that also includes:
people - not only human resources and customers, but also non-customers: marketers need to analyse why they are not buying.
process - the way in which a product is delivered can be as important as the product itself; a customer receiving excellent service with an average product is more likely to return than a customer receiving a good product with very bad service.
physical evidence - or the way things look: people expect everything about a company to look good, from its premises to its notepaper.
positioning - situating a product or a brand in relation to others already on the market.
profit - the ultimate judge of a company's marketing efforts and the culmination of all the Ps; marketers cannot just focus on finding and fulfilling customers' needs but must always balance this with contributing to the company's profit.
Keller's other three Ps concern the need for the whole company to understand and practice marketing. Planning involves ensuring that marketing activities are integrated with the rest of the company's activities, which will lead it to formulate the right policies. Finally, probing means developing a marketing information system that is continuously searching for relevant information.