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Today in a marketing job, it is extremely important to keep up-to-date and abreast of new research. Knowledge is power, and knowledge can make or break your career as a marketing professional. The other day, while browsing through the Internet, I chanced upon a research paper on marketing by Stanley F. Slater of the University of Washington and Eric M. Olson of the College of Business Administration, University of Colorado. Though this article is not about the subject matter of that research, I found a questionnaire in the paper that seemed to underline the key points of marketing, something that anyone in a marketing job would appreciate as a guideline rather than as a questionnaire.

What is Marketing Strategy?

To begin with, Slater and Olson (following Day, Cravens, Varadarajan and Clark), defined marketing strategy as a set of integrated decisions and actions by which a business expects to achieve its marketing objectives and meet the value requirements of its customers. It is concerned with decisions relating to market segmentation and targeting and with positioning the product or brand in the market using the four components of marketing—product, price, distribution, and promotion.



Activities in a Marketing Campaign

The points found in the questionnaire and presented systematically for the interest of any marketing professional as components of modern marketing are as follows:

1. Market Research: The first component of a marketing campaign involves
  • learning about customers systematically
  • analyzing competitor objectives and actions
  • collecting information about industry trends systematically
2. Segmentation/Targeting: This involves the satisfaction of the needs of particular customer groups by developing capabilities and making investments. It involves
  • segmentation of markets
  • systematic evaluation of the markets and identification of the target markets
  • focusing of marketing activities on specific market segments
  • attracting new customers
3. Product Line Breadth: As noted by Slater and Olson, determining the breadth of the product line is one of the most important product decisions. The question is whether the product line should be narrowly focused or whether it should be broad enough to cover a set of complementary products ranging across a variety of performance, specification, and price-based criteria. The activities include
  • offering a broad product/service line
  • offering a focused product/service line
  • developing products/services that have broad market appeal
4. Product Innovation: This is in the area of lateral marketing and focuses on service as an expanded form of the product. Activities include
  • development of innovative new products and services
  • utilizing early adopters for new products, service ideas, and feedback
  • decreasing the time gap between concept to introduction of the product and service
5. Product Quality: Enhancing product quality involves
  • providing products/services that have a longer operating life than competing products
  • providing products/services with a low probability of failure
  • focusing on regularly increasing the technical sophistication of products/services
  • focusing on achieving superior product performance
6. Service Quality: This is an era of service, and marketing fails if service fails. Key activities in maintaining enhanced service quality include
  • providing service with a high degree of consistency and accuracy
  • responding quickly to customers' requests and problems
  • clearly understanding and communicating with customers
  • focusing on providing superior post-sale service quality
  • developing long-term relationships with key customers
7. Premium Pricing: Achieving cost leadership is one of the greatest marketing objectives. However, premium pricing must be justified on innovativeness, superior product or service quality, or brand equity. Lower prices are justified to gain market share with a disadvantaged product. Activities and objectives of pricing strategy involve
  • use of premium pricing
  • pricing below industry average
  • using price promotions and discounts to boost sales and visibility
8. Selective Distribution: Distribution decisions involve determining whether a selective or an intensive distribution system should be used. Most mass-manufactured products require pre- and post-sale service, have high costs of stocking and selling, and try to position themselves as prestige products. Typical activities in distribution involve
  • selective distribution through best distributors available
  • distribution through an exclusive distributor that invests in specialized selling effort or provides unique facilities
9. Advertising: This is the dominant form of mass product promotion. Advertising is used to create awareness within a broad market. Activities and objectives involve
  • achieving above-industry-average exposure through advertising
  • generating high-quality advertising materials
  • using proper media channels for advertising
  • using the Internet for advertising
  • using direct-mail advertising
  • using integrated marketing communications programs
  • using public relations effectively
10. Personal Selling: Personal selling is the oldest method of product promotion known to humankind. Today, personal selling is used when consumers need in-depth information in real time. Activities and objectives of personal selling include
  • developing a highly skilled and knowledgeable sales force
  • generating sales through an internal sales force
  • maintaining a high salesperson-to-sales-manager ratio
  • evaluation of salesperson performance based on achievement of targets or quotas
  • evaluating salesperson performance based on accomplishment of prescribed behaviors
11. Support to the Promotion Process: This often-neglected step is one of the most crucial in sustaining a marketing campaign as a whole. Activities and objectives include
  • providing support to customer contact personnel
  • using "specialist" marketing personnel who direct their efforts to a well-defined set of activities
The Stanley F. Slater and Eric M. Olson research paper was published in the Strategic Management Journal in 2001. The paper, titled "Marketing's Contribution to the Implementation of Business Strategy: An Empirical Analysis," studied the performance implications of matching marketing strategy to business strategy, and can be accessed at www.biz.colostate.edu/faculty/stans/4MktStrategy.pdf.
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 market segmentation  customers  integrated marketing communications  objectives  investments  industry  integrated marketing strategy  ingredients  Internet  University of Colorado


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