Marketing (as defined by the American Marketing Association) is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods, services , organizations and events to create exchanges that will satisfy individual and organizational objectives.

A successful marketing effort includes identifying customer needs (find a need and fill it!), then

  • designing goods and services to meet those needs,
  • pricing goods and services to reflect costs, competition, and the customers’ ability to buy,
  • communicating information about those goods and services to prospective buyers , and
  • making the goods and services available at the times and places that meet customers’ needs.

These four are commonly called the 4 P’s of marketing: product, price, promotion, and place. Marketing Mix is the term marketers use to describe the combination of these elements.

Today, we often add one more:

  • providing the necessary services and follow-up to ensure customer satisfaction after the purchase.

All of these elements are vital to marketing your product or service.

Be sure to budget money for advertising. What good is a business if no one knows about it?

How should I go about marketing my product or service? The basic elements of a marketing strategy are: (1) the target market, and (2) the marketing mix.

Step 1: Determine your target market — who is it, how big is it?

To whom are you really trying to sell? Two key questions you need to answer are: 

Who will use my product/service? Where can I sell my product/service? 

The narrower your target market, the easier it is to determine what marketing approach to use. For example, “homeowners” is a broad target market, while “homeowners who own a dog” is a much narrower one. You might even want to narrow the target market to “homeowners in Knox County who own a dog.”

Once you have defined your target market, you need to determine how many potential customers are in it. You can usually get this information in a business library or the yellow pages, from your local Chamber of Commerce, or from a government agency -city, county, state or federal,depending on where your market is.

Step 2: Determine your marketing mix.

This step involves blending the following strategy elements to fit the needs and preferences of your target market. Here are some things to consider: 

Product Strategy – involves more than just deciding what products or services to offer. It also involves decisions about customer service, package designs, brand names, trademarks, warranties, product life cycles, positioning, and new-product development.

Pricing Strategy – is one of the most difficult areas of marketing decision making. It deals with the methods of setting profitable and justifiable prices, and includes evaluation of such factors as customary prices, supply and demand, and competition.

Promotional Strategy – is the communication link between buyers and sellers. It includes a wide variety of choices, including personal selling, advertising, sales promotion, and public relations. Often, several of these options are used simultaneously.

Distribution Strategy – is necessary to ensure that your products are available in the proper quantities at the right times and places. Distribution decisions involve modes of transportation, warehousing, inventory control, order processing, and selection of marketing channels (e.g., retailers, wholesalers).

Getting Expert Advice

Another suggestion is to get a marketing expert on your team as soon as possible. Such an individual should be able to help you with all of your marketing decisions. The challenge is finding the right expert for your business. The book From Patent to Profit* suggests to inventors eleven places to find a marketing expert, as well as ten attributes to look for in such an expert.

One More Idea

Today’s hottest new marketing vehicle is the World Wide Web. Using the Web, you can introduce your product far beyond your local area or region–to anyone in the world who has Internet access. Every day more information becomes available on how to market on the Web. The Greater Knoxville SCORE Chapter Web site (which you are currently viewing) lists several good sources of information in its section on Selected Web Sites. You can also sign up to receive a free e-mail newsletter dedicated to helping individuals market on the web. Do so by sending an e-mail to join-web-marketing@laser.sparklist.com. Back issues of this newsletter are available thttp://www.wilsonweb.com/wmt/

* This book is available at Lawson McGhee Library. Another helpful text for inventors available at Lawson McGhee is Inventor's Marketing Handbook by Reece A. Franklin.