Marketing tends to be seen as a creative industry, which includes advertising, distribution and selling. It is also concerned with anticipating the customers' future needs and wants, which are often discovered through market research. Essentially, marketing is the process of creating or directing an organization to be successful in selling a product or service that people not only desire, but are willing to buy. Therefore good marketing must be able to create a "proposition" or set of benefits for the end customer that delivers value through products or services.
For a marketing plan to be successful, the mix of the four "Ps"- Product, Pricing, Place and Promotion must reflect the wants and desires of the consumers in the target market. Trying to convince a market segment to buy something they don't want is extremely expensive and seldom successful. Marketers depend on insights from marketing research, both formal and informal, to determine what consumers want and what they are willing to pay for: they then hope that this process will give them a sustainable competitive advantage. Marketing management is the practical application of this process.

Regardless of the organizational unit of the firm responsible for managing them, marketing management functions and activities include the following:

Marketing research and analysis:
In order to make fact-based decisions regarding marketing strategy and design effective, cost-efficient implementation programs, firms must possess a detailed, objective understanding of their own business and the market in which they operate. In analyzing these issues, the discipline of marketing management often overlaps with the related discipline of strategic planning. The focus of customer analysis is to develop a scheme for market segmentation, breaking down the market into various constituent groups of customers, which are called customer segments or market segments. Marketing managers work to develop detailed profiles of each segment, focusing on any number of variables that may differ among the segments. In company analysis, marketers focus on understanding the company's cost structure and cost position relative to competitors, as well as working to identify a firm's core competencies and other competitively distinct company resources.

Marketing strategy:
Once the company has obtained an adequate understanding of the customer base and its own competitive position in the industry, marketing managers are able to make key strategic decisions and develop a marketing strategy designed to maximize the revenues and profits of the firm. The selected strategy may aim for any of a variety of specific objectives, including optimizing short-term unit margins, revenue growth, market share, long-term profitability, or other goals.

Implementation planning:
After the firm's strategic objectives have been identified, the target market selected, and the desired positioning for the company, product or brand has been determined, marketing managers focus on how to best implement the chosen strategy.

Reporting, measurement, feedback and control systems:
Marketing management often makes use of various organizational control systems such as sales forecasts, sales force and reseller incentive programs, sales force management systems, and customer relationship management tools.
Measuring the return on investment of and marketing effectiveness is a significant problem for marketing management. Various market research, accounting and financial tools are used to help estimate the ROI of marketing investments. Brand valuation, for example, attempts to identify the percentage of a company's market value that is generated by the company's brands, and thereby estimate the financial value of specific investments in brand equity. Another technique, integrated marketing communications (IMC), is a CRM database-driven approach that attempts to estimate the value of marketing mix executions based on the changes in customer behavior these executions generate.

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