In this article, I want to explore how organizations can successfully position their market offering. In order to fully understand the concept, we will start with a definition of what marketing really is. Marketing can be summarised as putting the right product, in the right place, at the right time and at the right price (Jerome McCarthy, 1960). This is not as easy as it sounds. To get the sequence correct; a tremendous amount of work needs to be put in. E.g finding the target market, developing a relevant product and setting a price people can afford, while also allowing you to make a profit.
Organisations need to contemplate where to place the product. It needs to be easily accessible for their target market to find. They also need to promote it in a way that reaches their target audience. This can lead to disaster if any one of these aspects become misaligned. This underlines the importance of the marketing mix. The marketing mix is the various decisions organizations make in regards to developing and marketing their product, for example – product, price, place, and promotion. I feel all of these considerations are quite similar to the education system, which I will refer to throughout this article, along with the four P’s of marketing.
In an earlier blog post, I noted that a product is anything that is either a tangible or intangible which a consumer is willing to pay for. It needs to satisfy some type of inner need or desire. However, before organizations can focus on satisfying a particular need or want, you need to identify who the customer is. Conducting relevant market research is pivotal.
Companies need to take into account any situational and cultural factors that exist to understand the customer. Not all customers have the same cultural identities meaning businesses need to tailor or adapt their product. For example, if you planned on selling a particular tailored made scarf you need to consider the age of the individual. For instance, a 60-year-old usually would not like something that is too bright and may prefer something more contemporary. However, a teenager, on the other hand, may want something more bright and colourful to express their individuality. Knowing these types of insights pushes the organization to change or adapt the product to cater to different needs.
Similarly, in an educational context, teachers need to understand where the learners are coming from. Otherwise how else can you make the learning relevant to them? For example, Chinese students prefer a constant change in the learning process, whereas Western cultures prefer to be more in control of their learning and be able to predict what way the session will go (Joy and Kolb).
Once a decision has been made on the product offering, it’s now time to make decisions around the pricing strategy. The price will impact upon the profit margins, demand and promotional strategy of the business. All the other elements of the marketing mix revolve around this. For example, the cost to design the product (Product), the cost to promote (Promotion) the product and how much is it going to cost to make (Price) and deliver the product (Place). There are a number of factors organisations need to weigh up in regards to the pricing strategy. E.g will a small decrease in the price gain you additional market share or will it damage the products perceived benefits. Competitors pricing also requires consideration such as how much the target market is willing to pay.
Pricing methods also need to be thought-out such as penetration pricing, skimming pricing, psychological pricing and premium pricing. The education system uses a variety of techniques in setting the price. E.g some universities offer new programmes at an initial price but once they have generated an adequate customer base who are willing to spread positive word of mouth about the course, they begin to slowly increase the price. This can be compared to companies offering TV subscriptions. Initially they attract consumers with at an initial lower level price but then increase the price as their customer base expands.
In the marketing mix, the term place is getting the product to the end customer. It deals with where the product is sold and how the customer can purchase the product. Marketers need to contemplate if a customer would prefer to buy online or offline? If the customer is willing to go to a particular store, then what type of store? For example, a supermarket or a boutique? The correct location is crucial. It needs to focus on where the market is located and how to connect to them. In order to understand and know this, it brings us back to really getting to know who the customer is. Looking at things from their eyes to become them.
This again is extremely like the schooling environment where you need to consider the location of the school, for example, is it easily accessible. Or even pondering the classrooms physical environment. E.g the seats and layout of the room need to be tailored to the individual learning needs in the class. Think about, what type of resources are available i.e. textbooks, eBooks etc. You even need to remember some individuals may prefer a form of online learning instead of attending physical classroom environments. Reflect on the type of distribution channel you plan to use, i.e. direct or indirect (use intermediaries) channel of distribution. Segmenting distribution channels helps address specific target markets needs/requirements.
The promotion strategy is how you plan on getting the message to the target audience. It is making decisions about disseminating relevant product information through a means that is relevant to them. It looks at different elements such as online or offline marketing, for example – social media advertising, email marketing, weblogs, website, TV advertising, radio, billboard, mailshots, PR marketing and much more. The primary aim is to catch the customers attention. Then the tertiary intention is to supply adequate information about the product in order to generate enough interest to motivate them to purchase.
In a teaching context, learners need to know what they are learning something and how it relates to their real life. Only then will they be motivated to learn the new concepts. Integrating all the other elements into the mix ensures the message correlates with the product benefits and the user experience. How the customer or the learner is feeling post-purchase and using the product is often called the user experience. To enhance the user experience, promoting the added after sale service the company provides helps to build a meaningful relationship with the customer.
Throughout the above article, I discussed the concept of the marketing mix and gave a summary of each of the four P’s of marketing – Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. I also discussed how I feel marketing has a lot of similarities to the educational environment. A lot of key decisions need to be made in a company’s positioning strategy in order to succeed in this ever-changing global marketplace.
Educating your target market is like educating your student. You need to truly understand and get to know your students/customer in order to tailor the product offering to suit their individual needs. Every individual has their own views of reality. Marketers and teachers alike need to reflect, adapt and change depending on the target market. This improves the opportunity to target them in a means that is relevant to them. It also helps to change people’s world-views making them recognize their unfulfilled needs to move them to change through either purchasing the product or becoming more engaged within the learning process.