I took a number of marketing courses in my MBA at Melbourne Business School (MBS) and it was during my Consumer Behaviour course with Brian Gibbs that we got the best, single-page overview of the marketing process.
Framework for Marketing Management
Gibbs called this the ‘Framework for Marketing Management’ and it’s an excellent summary of how marketing is done:
[Note: The diagram above is one that I made based on my notes from the course.]
It works like this:
- The marketing concept says you begin by looking at your customers, company, and competition – these are the three Cs. Let’s say your company makes pens:
- Ask yourself what it is that your customers need. How can you satisfy that need? In real life a lot of research would go into answering questions like these. Then consider what your customers do to satisfy those needs. What factors contribute to their decision making process? Again, more research would be done.
- Also look at your company. Can you make the pens your customers want? Do those types of pens fit with your company’s corporate objectives? For example, if you’re Montblanc, you won’t be making cheap plastic pens anytime soon even if some your customers say that’s what they want in a writing instrument.
- Don’t forget to analyze your competition as well. How will your competitors respond to your product (say, when you introduce a new version)? Also ask yourself who else satisfies the needs of your customers. For example, should you be looking at companies that make markers and pencils as competition?
- Once you’ve done that, you segment your customers according to primary bases, such as their identified needs. For example, Group A wants cheap plastic ballpoint pens, Group B wants fancy liquid ink pens, and so on. You also segment by secondary bases, which are often things like demographics. You keep slicing and dicing using a combination of bases till you get useful segments; i.e. those you can target properly. For example, you could further segment Group B by age bracket and annual income.
- Next, you decide which specific segments you’re going to target (and why). For example, Montblanc may be targeting only, say, richer and older people from Group B. They know they can communicate well with these people, they can defend this segment from the competition, and ultimately that’s the area of the market they want their company to operate in.
- That sets you up with the positioning of your product. Getting your positioning right is incredibly important because it’s the key to your entire plan. So, for example, Montblanc may position themselves in the luxury space as a company that sells excellent writing instruments that have the highest level of craftsmanship. In effect, their pens are high-end gifts, much like hand-crafted jewellery. They would then position themselves appropriately in the luxury gift jewellery markets, but not in the broader writing instruments market.
- Once you’ve got your positioning done, you figure out how you’re going to to create, capture, communicate, and deliver value to your customer. This value is created by the existence of your product, captured by its price, communicated through your promotion, and delivered by where you place (or how you distribute) your product – these are the four Ps.
- Finally, as the market grows and develops, you will need to tweak these four Ps to maintain your positioning. Then, at regular intervals, you will need to re-do your three Cs because the market will change and you will need to change with it. Repeat ad infinitum…well, at least as long as your company continues to exist.
It All Comes Down to Positioning
As you may have gathered, a good way of remembering the entire marketing process is to think of the just the three Cs and four Ps. However, if you want to distil it further, you can bring it all down to positioning.
Positioning is a summary of the first part (analysis & strategy: the three Cs) and a guide for the second part (planning & implementation: the four Ps).
From the consumer behaviour point of view, it is also the psychological epicentre of the marketing process. That’s because positioning – with the help of the four Ps – is what translates the ‘actual product’ into the ‘perceived product’ within the consumer’s mind (they are often not the same).
So while a Montblanc pen is in essence just a writing instrument, in the mind of the consumer, it is much more than just that. And it is the pen’s positioning that will determine what qualities above its ability to put ink on paper set it apart from its competitors.
Thanks for Sharing, But What Was the Point?
This one-page overview of the marketing process is useful in many ways:
- It provides a great sanity check for what you’re doing in your job. For example, the Web & New Media Strategy that Melbourne Water developed over the last year followed pretty much this process. That strategy now forms the basis of my day-to-day work. So, if we hadn’t done the three Cs right, for example, I would have had a hard time getting the four Ps done properly.
- It’s a great way to analyze the marketing, branding, and product positioning that’s going on around you all the time.
- It brings good overall project management and business strategy rigour to whatever it is that you’re doing.
Oh, and if you’re a job seeker, it’s particularly useful because it provides a good framework for when you get asked questions about the company’s products or services.