In order to reach the goal of creating a relationship that holds value for customers and for the organization, marketers use a diverse Toolkit that includes (but is not limited to) making decisions regarding:
- Target Markets – markets consist of customers identified as possessing needs the marketer believes can be addressed by its marketing efforts
- Products – consists of tangible (e.g., goods) or intangible (e.g., services) solution to the market’s needs
- Promotion – a means for communicating information about the marketing organization’s products to the market
- Distribution – the methods used by the marketer that enable the market to obtain products
- Pricing – ways for the marketer to set and adjust the cost paid by the market to obtain products
- Supporting Services – additional options that enhance a product’s value
While these decisions are shown with a number, the order of decision-making does not necessarily follow this sequence. However, as we will discuss, in almost all cases marketers should first identify target markets (#1) prior to making decisions #2 through #6 (commonly called the Marketing Mix) since these decisions are going to be directed toward satisfying the desired target markets.
Each option within the Marketer’s Toolkit is tightly integrated with all other options so that a decision in one area could, and often does, impact decisions in other areas. For instance, a change in the price of a product (e.g., lowering the price) could impact the distribution area (e.g., requires increased product shipments to retail stores).
Additionally, options within the Toolkit are affected by factors that are not controlled by the marketer. These factors include economic conditions, legal issues, technological developments, social/cultural changes, and many more. While not managed in the way marketers control their Toolkit, these external factors must be monitored and dealt with since these can cause considerable harm to the organization. Ignoring outside elements also can lead to missed opportunities in the market especially if competitors are the first to take advantage of the opportunities. As part of the strategic and tactical planning process discussed above it is wise for marketers to pay close attention to the environment outside the organization.
Finally, as noted earlier, research plays a significant role in all marketing decisions areas. As we will see in the Marketing Research Tutorial, marketing decisions should not be made without first committing time and resources to obtaining needed information.