As marketing developed, it took a variety of forms. It was noted above that marketing can be viewed as a set of functions in the sense that certain activities are traditionally associated with the exchange process. A common but incorrect view is that selling and advertising are the only marketing activities. Yet, in addition to promotion, marketing includes a much broader set of functions, including product development, packaging, pricing, distribution, and customer service.
Many organizations and businesses assign responsibility for these marketing functions to a specific group of individuals within the organization. In this respect, marketing is a unique and separate entity. Those who make up the marketing department may include brand and product managers, marketing researchers, sales representatives, advertising and promotion managers, pricing specialists, and customer service personnel.
As a managerial process, marketing is the way in which an organization determines its best opportunities in the marketplace, given its objectives and resources. The marketing process is divided into a strategic and a tactical phase. The strategic phase has three components—segmentation, targeting, and positioning (STP). The organization must distinguish among different groups of customers in the market (segmentation), choose which group(s) it can serve effectively (targeting), and communicate the central benefit it offers to that group (positioning). The marketing process includes designing and implementing various tactics, commonly referred to as the “marketing mix,” or the “4 Ps”: product, price, place (or distribution), and promotion. The marketing mix is followed by evaluating, controlling, and revising the marketing process to achieve the organization’s objectives (see below Marketing-mix planning).
The managerial philosophy of marketing puts central emphasis on customer satisfaction as the means for gaining and keeping loyal customers. Marketers urge their organizations to carefully and continually gauge target customers’ expectations and to consistently meet or exceed these expectations. In order to accomplish this, everyone in all areas of the organization must focus on understanding and serving customers; it will not succeed if all marketing occurs only in the marketing department. Marketing, consequently, is far too important to be done solely by the marketing department. Marketers also want their organizations to move from practicing transaction-oriented marketing, which focuses on individual exchanges, to relationship-driven marketing, which emphasizes serving the customer over the long term. Simply getting new customers and losing old ones will not help the organization achieve its objectives.
Finally, marketing is a social process that occurs in all economies, regardless of their political structure and orientation. It is the process by which a society organizes and distributes its resources to meet the material needs of its citizens. However, marketing activity is more pronounced under conditions of goods surpluses than goods shortages. When goods are in short supply, consumers are usually so desirous of goods that the exchange process does not require significant promotion or facilitation. In contrast, when there are more goods and services than consumers need or want, companies must work harder to convince customers to exchange with them.