When talking about marketing, many people think it’s just about using promotional tactics to sell products. However, those who are in the field can identify at least seven functions of marketing that govern almost all aspects of a business and should factor in all business decisions.
It’s true that the primary goal of marketing is to attract customers and motivate them to buy your products and services. Behind the scenes, marketing is an entire process that directly affects the production, distribution, and all other aspects of communication and delivery.
Following are the seven functions of marketing.
- Product Management
- Marketing Information Management
Let’s discuss each of these in detail.
Promotion means creating awareness about your product through mass communication and encouraging people to purchase it.
Marketing and promotion are considered synonymous by most people outside the marketing profession. Although the two are not synonymous, it’s a crucial function of marketing that aims to create awareness about your product or service in the market.
A promotional strategy can make or break a marketing campaign. Marketers use a set of different strategies like public relations (PR), direct outreach, social media, and advertising to let an audience know about a new product and why it matters. From content marketing to social media and email, any medium used for awareness building essentially falls under promotion.
Businesses promote their products in many ways informed by marketing research. For example, Nike’s flagship store London introduced plus-size mannequins in a successful campaign for the brand’s full plus-size line and bespoke personalization services by celebrating diversity and inclusivity of sports.
Post-launch searches for the keywords ‘Nike’ and ‘plus size’ increased by +387% on Love the Sales, and clicks on the tights featured on the mannequin increased by 200%.
Selling involves motivating customers to buy a product or service by telling them how it fulfills customer needs.
You’d want to argue… but isn’t it the sales team’s job? Yes, the sales team is the one talking to the customer and making the final transaction. However, it’s a marketer’s job to sell the product to the customer long before speaking to a sales rep.
The ultimate goal of marketing is to sell the products; however, it’s done with tact. The key is to not come on the readers too strong ‒ no one likes to be sold.
This involves grabbing the audience’s attention through content marketing and keeping them engaged with relevant content. A well-executed content plan continuously makes a case for your brand and introduces your products in a subtle and helpful way to convert that interest into a lead.
That’s where the sales reps come in and seal the deal. By then, the customers already know everything about the product, how it solves their problems, and how it compares with competing products.
Sephora has an entire Beauty Insider community to attract and engage its customers and convert audience interest into leads and transactions.
Many companies have blogs to attract and engage their target audience. Businesses that blog get 2x email traffic than businesses without blogs.
For example, Help Scout, which has helpful blogs for its readers. Ahrefs has also created a complete resource on SEO that revolves around its tools and sells them without selling. Look at all the traffic its content attracts in the screenshot below.
3. Product And Service Management
Product and service management is a function of marketing because it requires designing, developing, and modifying the product or service to meet the customers’ ever-changing needs.
Only those products or services survive the changing times that can keep pace with the evolving market trends. Product and service management involves customer engagement to get their feedback and keeping an eye on the changing customer needs and perceptions.
Based on the findings, it generates suggestions and helps in redesigning the product to keep it relevant, creating new versions to suit customer needs or beat the competitors, or identifying new growth opportunities.
One of the best examples of product management is the Coca-Cola company. Over the years, it has experimented with flavors and kept the Coke flavor close to the original, which people love. However, other aspects of branding evolved with time, and it can be appreciated visually by how their contoured bottles have changed throughout the years.
4. Marketing Information Management
Market information management is all about gathering consumer data and using it to improve other marketing functions and facilitate critical business decisions.
Marketers try to understand the customers’ needs and interests before the product launch so that they can make sure the product fulfills their expectations. Companies get this information through customer feedback, surveys, and most prominently, through social media. This information also helps create on-point promotional campaigns that hit the mark and bring in returns on investment (ROI).
Marketing information management also deals with competitor research and keeps an eye on the market trends. All of this information is crucial for the business to make key decisions, whether it’s about product design, price point, promotional campaigns, or financing and distribution.
For example, J.Crew collects its customers’ zip codes with every purchase. This information helps marketers understand the distribution of their customers ‒ where their most loyal customers live and which areas need more attention.
Zip codes also give marketers an insight into which locations will be the best for opening a new outlet. With all this information at their disposal, they can zero in on how to make the magic happen.
Pricing involves setting the price for a product or a service to maximize the profit, keeping in view the consumers’ perception of the value, production price and the competitors’ pricing.
This is the toughest of the seven marketing functions since it involves an extensive understanding of the market. Pricing cannot be too low or too high compared to the market average. Then you have to factor in the target audience and how much they will be willing to pay for a product and the value it brings.
Another factor that affects pricing is the brand’s reputation. Esteemed brands can sometimes sell their products at a higher price point than most competitors because they enjoy the trust of their customers.
Most of the time, pricing fluctuates at different times of the year. The marketing department should help the business adapt its pricing depending on those fluctuations and still make the desired profit.
Let’s suppose a business sells organic vegetables. If this brand has a unique product, it can exercise some monopoly on the price because of the absence of any competitors. However, it will still need to keep an eye on the purchasing power of its target customers. Now, if it had some competitors too, it would need to do a lot of research to set the right price.
Rolex is a perfect example of a brand that can command higher pricing because of its brand perception. The pricing also reflects the buying power of its target audience and the promise of luxury. That’s why pricing is a function of marketing and cannot be set otherwise.
Financing involves obtaining the required capital to run or scale your business or deciding how to spend money for the maximum ROI.
Of all the functions of marketing, financing is the least discussed, yet it’s a highly important aspect of marketing. Marketing does and should affect the financial decisions, even ones outside of what would be considered the marketing “department.”
Effective marketing management can affect financing in a company in many ways. The most obvious connection is, of course, budgeting for marketing campaigns. Financial restraints can impact marketing decisions, including the marketing channels you can use.
The marketing department should inform the decisions such as when to offer discounts, when to offer free products, and when to apply price cuts. Excellent marketing campaigns can also help companies secure financing from investors or banks. At the same time, marketers know which strategies to use that will maximize ROI.
For example, if your target customers are young people, social media ads can be more productive. However, if you’re targeting senior citizens, printed press or television ads may offer better results even though they may cost more.
A strong marketing department can also guide the company on when and which new markets should be explored and how to spend the funds to obtain maximum profits.
For example, Bodyform created a campaign, Womb Stories, in 2020 to highlight unspoken menstrual issues. The ad was a HUGE success and got 1.1.m views and 54.6k likes on Instagram, and 1.2k retweets and 3.4k likes on Twitter. It reinforced the company’s image as a brand that walks the talk and is an increasing traffic source for their website. Talk about money well spent!
Distribution involves decisions regarding when and where the product should be made available and in which condition.
You’re correct to think that distribution should be the responsibility of the supply chain management team. However, it’s also one of the seven functions of marketing. Here’s why.
When, where, and how you distribute your products largely depends on your target audience and brand perception. For example, if you’re a high-end luxury brand, you won’t be distributing your products through Target, right? Hence, marketing guides the distribution of products according to the promotional campaign and where the target audience typically buys such products.
Logistics is the responsibility of the supply chain management team. However, the marketing team needs to closely coordinate to ensure there’s no disconnect between the demand and supply.
Similarly, a new brand may opt for a different distribution channel compared to an established business. If you’re a new business, you may choose a well-known shopping mall to sell your products. Once your brand gains enough popularity, your marketing team can advise you to open an independent store. They can help you select an area where most of your customers hang out. They can advise you to transition to an online store if most of your sales are happening online. So, the onus of taking distribution-related decisions ultimately falls on the marketing team.
One extraordinary example of commitment to quality and the importance of distribution in upholding brand image is Peet’s Coffee. Even though it’s a billion-dollar company, it has a Direct Store Delivery System (DSD). Over 700 reps personally rotate their products on store shelves every week to fulfill the company promise ‒ to provide the freshest cup of coffee to their consumers.
It’s a massive commitment in terms of money and logistics but worth it. Certainly, money is well spent because it positions Peet’s to sell their products at premium prices and gain customers’ trust.
Every marketer who wants to make it big in the marketing sector needs to understand these 7 functions of marketing. The companies that base critical decisions on marketing insights often make good decisions that are well informed. They are typically ready for unforeseen situations and better understand their company’s growth and future timeline.
Karli is content marketing consultant behind Wild Idea, a content marketing and SEO collective focused on driving big results. With over 12 years in the marketing industry, she’s worked with brands large and small across many industries to grow organic traffic and reach new audiences. She writes on everything from marketing, social, and SEO to travel and real estate. On the weekends, she loves to explore new places, enjoy the outdoors and have a glass or two of vino!