A marketing department serves as a beacon for a company, guiding it on which product, pricing, promotional and distribution strategies to use. Professionals employed in this department are usually highly creative and have many duties. Some gather input from current consumers, while others disseminate information to other departments and businesses. Whatever the case, a marketing department's duties are almost always tied to increasing an organization's sales and profits and maximizing shareholder earnings.
One primary duty of a marketing department is obtaining customer feedback. This function is usually the responsibility of marketing research managers or analysts. They usually obtain feedback by conducting surveys by phone, in person, online or by mail. Most hire outside research firms to do the surveys. The objective of the surveys is measuring how satisfied customers are with current products or services. Consumers who are highly satisfied with products are more inclined to become repeat buyers. Another objective of gathering customer feedback is determining which additional products or features customers want. The needs of consumers change over time, as does technology. The marketing department keeps the company apprised of these changes in the marketplace.
Creating Promotional Materials and Ads
Marketing departments create promotional materials and ads for companies. Promotional materials include corporate annual reports, brochures, sales letters, visual aids for sales reps, newsletters and blogs. Ads are designed or written to appear in newspapers, magazines, radio and on television. Marketing also runs podcasts or video ads that people can download from their computers or cell phones. Marketing communications managers and coordinators usually manage the creation of promotional materials and ads. Copy writers create the verbiage for the ads while graphic designers or artists prepare the layout and color schemes. All promotions and ads are designed to create attention and interest, prompting customers to seek additional information or to buy.
Gathering Competitive Intelligence
Corporate marketers must keep track of competitors' activity to know which strategies to implement themselves. Some of this information is available in secondary research reports, which can be purchased from outside agencies like Nielsen and Forrester Research. Secondary research information may include data such as industry sales trends, market share and marketing activities used by competitors. Marketing also collects competitive brochures, fliers and studies competitive products sold in stores. One objective of keeping tabs on the competition is to combat aggressive tactics aimed at the marketer's own company. Another is to find better ways to differentiate the company's products, making them more desirable than the competitions' wares.
Marketing departments help to establish prices for products and services. This duty usually falls in the bailiwick of brand or product managers. Marketers use a variety of pricing strategies. For example, a company introducing a new product may use a price penetration strategy, setting prices lower initially to quickly gain market share. This strategy is particularly appealing when consumers are more price sensitive in the market, according to "NetMBA." Seasonal and cash discounts are types of pricing strategies organizations use. However, marketing must set prices high enough to cover costs. The exception would be pricing strategies used to get rid of inventory or loss-leader pricing. A loss leader is a product that is priced low to draw people into the store. Sales reps then try to upsell customers into buying something more expensive.