Global marketing services
By: Oluwaseun P. Adeola
The bedrock for a successful business or organization is a full understanding of the concept of marketing. In other words, for a business to successfully understand customers’ needs and develop the products or services that meets such needs, one must have a comprehensive understanding of how marketing works.Malcolm & Adrian (2006, 287) posited that the central idea of marketing is to match the organization’s capabilities with the needs of customers so as to achieve the objectives of both parties. To achieve success in the matching process, the company would have to develop its strengths either from the nature of the services offerings or from the way it utilizes the services offerings to give its customers optimum satisfaction. Marketing as a Global discipline has been described by Keegan (2002, 2-4) as a set of concepts, tools, theories, practices, procedures and experience.He further states that although marketing is universal, marketing practice varies from one country to the other; as much as each person is unique, so also is each country. This submission by Keegan therefore suggests that experiences from one country cannot be directly applied to another. Indeed, if factors such as customers, competitors and channels of distributions differ; one would have to adjust the company’s marketing mix or program to account for the differences.
Since almost every meaningful endeavor in life comes with principle, it therefore, means that to be successful in any given endeavor; it then becomes pertinent to adhere and follow the set principles. The same can be said of marketing.The whole essence of marketing is condensed into three abundant principles. These core principles cannot be better explained than how Keegan (2002, 4-8) puts it. They are customer value and the value equation, differential advantage and focus. The three principles will be explained in turns.
Customer Value and the Value Equation
The task of marketing is to create customer value that is greater than the value created by the competitors. Value for the customers can be increased by expanding or improving product or services benefits, by reducing price or the combination of these two elements. A company with cost advantage can employ price as a competitive tool.If a company is creative enough and also has a full understanding of its customer base, such company can offer an utter service package that is superior to competitors’.Also, if a company’s products or services have sufficient benefits; its products do not need to be the cheapest in the market place before it can win customers (Keegan 2002, 4; Jobber 2001, 11.)
The second great principle of marketing is the differential advantage. When a company offers an utterly unique products or services which consumer perceive and believe that customers or prospective customers cannot get elsewhere, then a company can be said to possess a competitive advantage. The competitive advantage may exist in a company’s product, price and the other marketing tools.Impliedly, this means that when a company intends to penetrate a new market, one of the best weapons to deploy is to ensure that a superior product or service is offered at a lower price.The low price will serve as ‘bait’ for customers who dare to buy the product or service but more importantly, the superb quality will definitely drive home a message.Now, there is no better strategy to penetrate a new market. This is because when customers tried the products or service (enticed by the low price) and discovered the benefits and values derived surpasses the price; they tend to spread the news by word of mouth.And once this happens, the beginning of a success story has begun, if well managed (Keegan 2002, 4; Jobber 2001, 12; Kotler & Armstrong 2008, 9.)
The last pronounced marketing principle is the focus or concentration of attention as highlighted by Keegan (2002). Just as it is applicable in any given undertaking, marketing also needs focus. Indeed, a lot of focus is required if a company must not just survive but win in the current turbulent and ever increasing competitive business environment. It is somewhat easy to get distracted by the early stage of success stories, but to continually be at the receiving end of favourable feedbacks and positive word of mouth ‘advertisements’ by loyal customers; a company would need to focus on the need(s) that is (are) most crucial to the customers.When a company is totally focus on delivering value to its customers, then it will assiduously work on constantly improving its services package and also timely meeting customers’ requirement.It can therefore, be concisely put that to be successful in the global market place, a firm will need to direct her limited resources on the dynamic environmental opportunities and consumers’ needs (Kotler & Armstrong 2008, 10).
It is commonly believed that marketing is universal and as such, it concepts can be applied to both products and services. However true the statement is, what is also true is that there are distinguishing characteristics between product and service. Therefore, there should be separate approaches to services as well as there should be separate approaches to products. And since the major concern of the research is on services, therefore, only the distinguishing characteristics of services will be discussed here. According to Kotler (2006, 239-243), the services characteristics have been broadly grouped into four. They are:
1.Intangibility- Services are somewhat nonconcrete, cannot be touched or held
2.Heterogeneity- Services are somewhat variable
3.Inseparability- services are produced and consumed at the same time. Services producer are part of the service.
4.Perishability- Services cannot be stored in the warehouse or inventory.
Having highlighted and established that differences subsist between services and products which mean that each deserves its own marketing approach. Now, the question is how does one market services in a result-oriented manner and in a manner that only accounts for and/or concentrates on services marketing alone; no more, no less. The ultimate answer to the stated question can be answered through the questions of Lovelock (1993, 245). The questions are:
1.What is the nature of the service act?
2.What type of relationship does this services organization have with its customers?
3.How much room is there for customization and judgement?
4.What is the nature of supply and demand for the service?
5.How is the services delivered?
·The Nature of the Service
To be able to serve a given market target, definite answers should be provided as regards the nature of the services offerings. In other words, a company must be able to determine what definite benefits the service provides its customers. In addition, a business should also try to determine whether the benefits derived from the service offered is capable to make a difference in the lives of the customers. Even so, it is likewise important as part of the nature of the service to determine how the services offering will get to the final consumers or customers. Also important is how a company manages its relationships with the customers. This suggests that one would have to answer the questions as to whether customers would have to move out of their comfort zones to get the service or the company can provide the service even at the cosiness of customers’ households and/or workplaces. By pragmatically providing answers to these questions, a company would be better positioned to strengthen its competitive advantage (Jobber 2001, 684-687; Kotler & Armstrong 2008, 239.)
·Type of Relationship
The central point in this question is to help an organization know and determine whether or not a kind of formal relationship exists between customers and the services provider. Also, another underlining factor in this question is for the organization to be able to know whether its services will be provided continuously or in disconnected dealings. It is certainly advantageous for a company to have and maintain some kind of relationships with its customers. This affords the company the ability to understand the unique needs of each customer and as such, services can be tailored to accurately address such unique needs. And again it will be somewhat easy for the company to maintain a sizable database that might be useful for direct marketing. More importantly, maintaining good relationships with customers will lead to increased purchases, decreased cost, and higher quality service and in the long run help build customer loyalty which in turn will lead to increased brand equity (Jobber 2001, 688; Kotler &Armstrong 2008, 20-21; Ghauri & Cateora 2010, 249.)
·Room for Customization and Judgement
As mentioned above, good formal relationships with customers will help a service provider to get acquainted with the needs of its customers and subsequently, tailor-made services can then be provided to meet such needs. This is because customers have unique needs and requirements that must be satisfied and met. Service providers have to see each customer or potential buyer as separate from others. However, it is not only sufficient to know the distinctive needs of customers; the real question is the level to which services provided can be tailored. In other words, how flexible is the nature of the service? It then follows that; service flexibility should be substantially factored into the services design stage (Kotler &Armstrong 2008, 195).
·The Nature of Supply and Demand for the Service
Usually one would expect that fluctuations in the demand for a service will sometimes occur. Therefore, in such situations where demand is relatively high, the question is, how prepared is the company to cater for the increased demand. It is crucial to remember that one of the characteristics of services is that it cannot be stored. Therefore, service providers are usually faced with the difficulty of meeting customers’ demands when supply is inadequate. Apparently, in such situations where demand outstrips supply what happens inadvertently is that customers are being sent away to the competitors. And that is delicate. Importantly, what this question is striking is that a company should be able to know and interpret the pattern of demand for its services. Failure to accurately familiarize with the demand pattern may mark the beginning of a firm’s abysmal business performance (Jobber 2001, 687.)
·How Is The Service Delivered?
Malcolm & Arian (2006, 253) pointed out that the method by which the service is delivered to customers can be another area where a change of marketing strategy could pay dividends. For a company to appropriately answer the question of how its services are delivered, four questions must first be answered. They are:
1.Should the service be delivered at a single site or through multiple outlets?
2.What is the most convenient type of transaction for customers?
3.If the type interaction changed, would the service quality improve or deteriorate?
4.Can suitable intermediaries be used in order to achieve multiple outlets (e.g. franchises)? (Malcolm & Adrian 2006, 259.)
Clearly, every business should know that the delivery of services to customers is important to the total services package. There is no such thing as quality services when customers do not get the services when they need or want them. Also, the means of accessing the services by customers should be simplified by service provider. Under no circumstance should a company lazily allow its services difficult to access by customers. Once it proves difficult for customers to get or use the services they need as at when needed, then they lose confidence in the service provided and subsequently try another service provider (Ghauri & Cateora 2010, 409-418.)
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