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Remember that best selling book “All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten” by Robert Fulgham?1 In it he suggests that it is the little things in life - like playing fair, sharing, and cleaning up your own mess - that truly define who you are, your happiness, and your success. For many organizations, the principles we learn in introductory marketing classes play that same role. It is the basic concepts of who is my customer, what do they want and need, and how can I make them happy that should drive the organization.

Marketing is among the most misunderstood of business activities. Often, the term marketing is used  anonymously with sales. It is true that “sales” is one of the functions that occur within the overall marketing system; yet sales is simply one small component of a much broader marketing role that properly includes functions ranging from product conception and design to packaging, pricing, and service following the sale. 

Given the broad role of marketing it is perhaps not surprising that for some products, marketing accounts for a majority of the product cost. To illustrate consider the twenty-cent product in the two-dollar package (e.g. a package with one bolt for two dollars versus a box of 50 bolts for ten dollars). Rationally, we might suggest that it is crazy to spend two-plus dollars for a twenty-cent part. Yet, the customer may well be achieving benefits from this approach beyond the specific needs addressed by the part (e.g. they don’t have to buy 49 bolts they don’t need – so from their point of view they save eight dollars!). It is the job of marketing to identify and assess such wants and needs, and to ensure that the organization’s product offerings satisfy them.

Good marketing is the process by which organizations better understand the inner nature of those they wish to serve. Does the person looking for a pet cat have a problem with mice – or loneliness? Are they buying coffee for the flavor, the warmth, or the experience at the coffee shop? Is the person buying a boat seeking a means of transportation across water, or seeking a state-of-the art fishing craft, or are they buying quality time with their family? Not that many years ago one boat did it all. Today, astute marketers have identified the many  independent customer needs and desires in boating and, as a result, there is a boat tailored for almost every use. 

This report looks at some of the core activities that fall within the marketing realm and are at the heart of all businesses. We aim to just hit the highlights of those areas that everyone should be familiar with. You might say that we are covering the “everything you really need to know about marketing” lessons of kindergarten. 

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