The Role of Marketing within A Firm
The official American Marketing Association definition published in July 2013 defines marketing as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. ”
While this definition can help us better comprehend the parameters of marketing, it does not provide a full picture. Definitions of marketing cannot flesh out specific transactions and other relationships among these elements. The following propositions are offered to supplement this definition:
- The overall directive for any organization is the mission statement or an equivalent expression of organizational goals. It reflects the inherent business philosophy of the organization.
- Every organization has a set of functional areas (e.g., accounting, production, finance, data processing, marketing) in which tasks pertinent to the success of the organization are performed. These functional areas must be managed if they are to achieve maximum performance.
- Every functional area is guided by a philosophy (derived from the mission statement or company goals) that governs its approach toward its ultimate set of tasks.
- Marketing differs from the other functional areas, because its primary concern is exchanges that take place in markets outside the organization.
- Marketing is most successful when the philosophy, tasks, and implementation of available technology are coordinated and complementary to the rest of the business.
Marketing is often a critical part of a firm’s success, but its importance must be kept in perspective. For many large manufacturers such as Proctor & Gamble, Microsoft, Toyota, and Sanyo, marketing represents a major expenditure, as these businesses depend on the effectiveness of their marketing effort. Conversely, for regulated industries (such as utilities, social services, medical care, or small businesses providing a one-of-a-kind product ) marketing may be little more than a few informative brochures.
Marketing as a Source of Competitive Advantage
The specific role of marketing is to provide assistance in identifying, satisfying, and retaining customers. Noted Harvard Business Professor Theodore Levitt claimed the purpose of all business is to “find and keep customers. ”
The only way to achieve this objective is to create a competitive advantage. That is, you must convince buyers (potential customers) that what you have to offer satisfies their particular need or want. Hopefully, you will be able to provide this advantage consistently, so eventually the customer will purchase your product without considering alternatives. This loyal behavior is exhibited by people who drive only Fords, brush their teeth only with Crest, and buy only Dell computers.
Creating this blind commitment – without consideration of alternatives – to a particular brand, store, person, or idea is the dream of all businesses. It is unlikely to occur, however, without the support of an effective marketing program.