A. Before you read the text discuss the following questions. Then, scan the text for answers. 

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A. Before you read the text discuss the following questions. Then, scan the text for answers.

1. What is marketing about?

2. What makes customers buy a certain product?

3. What business areas should you research for successful marketing?

4. What kinds of costs are there in marketing? Which costs are projected?

5. What is the function of distributors in marketing?

6. How is price formed? What are the phases in pricing policies?

7. Why are contingency plans necessary in marketing?

8. What are the common promotional tools in marketing?

Marketing: The all Important Tool for a Successful Business [11]

You may have a good product or service that you believe is essential and marketable, yet customers will not exactly beat a path to your door. You still have to sell it to them and at a profit. Customers won't begrudge you a profit, if you give them what they need, when they need it, with quality always a priority - and that's marketing.

Marketing is the crucial area which will decide the fate of your business, big or small. Success of a business will largely depend on effective marketing. Small businesses may have some advantages over the larger ones, being able to move quickly, change course more easily and offer better personalized services at less cost. Successful marketing consists of nine basic areas.

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Research and identify the potential of your product or service in relation to the market. The composition and size of the marketplace and your proposed share will form the base. You should analyze your potential customers and competitors and anticipate their reactions to your business coming on the scene. Also important is the state of your market, whether it is new and growing; has reached maturity with little room for expansion; or it has reached saturation point and is on the decline.

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Marketing can take the form of:

Direct Selling - will give you complete control, immediate feedback, quick response and higher profits. The negative aspects will be the need to arrange for delivery, product return costs, advertising and sales promotion costs. Also, it will call for a maximum effort from you.

Distributors - a distributor will stock your products, and also others, and sell to retailers and end-users. You will carry less inventory, sales will be in bulk, while the negatives will be lower profit margins, possible irregular feedback and could lead to problems in production scheduling.

Agents - agents will sell your products for a commission to be paid after a sale, with the advantages to you being lesser costs for reaching markets, larger sales through intimate knowledge and their contacts in the market. Disadvantages will be little loyalty, shared attention and difficulty in planning inventory.

Retailers - Probably the most common way for goods to reach the retailers is through wholesalers or distributors. Advantages will be good access to customers, a sound knowledge of the markets, effective presentation, and quick introduction to the marketplace, through advertising and sales promotion. Negatives would be shared attention, possible higher product returns, little control over pricing and difficulty in forecasting demand.

Strategic Alliances - This is a general term to include joint ventures, joint production or marketing agreements. It works on the basis of your forming an alliance with a company that is already well-established and also strong in an area where you are weak. You share the profits, ownership, a good share of the market and so on. Risks also have to be shared, as well as the advantages.

Franchising - Licensing or other forms of agreements where others are given the right to market your products or services. Advantages are rapid expansion, receipt of a substantial fee and possible royalties and commissions, promotion and recognition of your products in the marketplace. Disadvantages will be to guarantee an established market, cost of providing training, site selection, ensuring constant product quality and so on.

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It is important to establish an effective price structure based on a sound pricing policy. Keep in mind the four different phases: manufacturing, distribution, retailing and direct sales to customers. The price structures will have to take into account: the prime cost, overheads, margins, markup, sales taxes and so on. If you plan to export, a completely different price structure has to be worked out, which could generally be: prime cost or ex- factory cost plus a percentage margin. In Canada, a new costing method called the 'Profit Velocity' is being adopted to maximize profits.

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A very important aspect of successful marketing is conducting consumer research and analysis, periodically. This will reveal the features of your product or service, the problems or defects and the actual acceptance level of your products in the marketplace. With this information, you could decide whether to improve or expand your current lines, to introduce new ones, or change your strategy. Independent surveys and your direct contact with customers may well surprise you with their feedback.

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You may have a good product or service but you still have to inform the marketplace about it. You also have to compete with other businesses already on the scene. Depending on your budget some of the promotional tools you could use would be: television, newspapers, magazines, flyers, bill-boards, presentations, websites, networking and a host of others.

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All businesses need objectives and sales targets to keep your business on track. Your projected sales forecasts and your actual performance will show you the degree of success of your marketing efforts. The overall picture may look good but you must break it down into different categories such as: direct sales, distribution sales, agent's sales, retail sales. Break the dollar values into regions, stores, outlets and products, and then an overall picture will appear. Further analysis will tell you the strengths and weaknesses and enable you take corrective action where necessary.

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Your marketing strategy is the key for successful marketing. Your business plan would have included a sound marketing strategy. When compared to the actual performance, you can see how well your planned strategy has worked. The cash flow 'liquidity' will also be an indication whether your marketing plan needs change.

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Budgets are schedules showing anticipated incomes and expenditures over a given period of time. They become an important and integral part of your business plan. A sound marketing budget must include detailed projections of incomes and expenditures by product categories, among others, projected over short and long periods of time. Projected costs should include: selling, distribution, promotion, discounts, provisions for returns, taxes, commissions and, importantly, a contingency factor.

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All good business plans will contain a contingency plan for the marketing area also. Markets are sometimes unpredictable and, especially during unstable economic times, a sound flexible contingency plan is an essential part of any business. Your plan could be based on a short term and a long term basis and your initial research and the subsequent constant surveys will help and guide you to do this.

Marketing is a very exciting and challenging area of activity in any type of business or service. An initial detailed research carried out will be the guidelines to work out a base from which to form a marketing plan, and a sound understanding of the information available with diligent analysis, coupled with your initiative and innovative thinking, will be the key to successful marketing.

b. Fill in the gaps in the text with subheadings and take notes of main ideas:


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