With a summary of the research undertaken in step 7 and your export SWOT analysis (discussed in the previous section) in hand, and your export objectives clearly outlined, you can now move on to prepare an export marketing strategy. The export marketing strategy describes how you will meet the needs of the foreign customer. More specifically, the export marketing strategy must indicate how you will adapt your product to meet the needs of the foreign customer, at what price you will attempt to sell the product, how you will inform the customer of your product and encourage them to buy your products, and, finally, how you will get your product to the customer. The marketing information obtained from your export research efforts will be used to draw up your export marketing strategy.
We have mentioned marketing a few times already in the above introduction as well as in several other sections leading up to step 8. At this point, it is appropriate just to briefly define marketing.
From this definition can be distilled a number of key elements. The first is the question of exchange. Exchanges occur when at least two parties that each have something of value, and who wish to transact with the other person, communicate with each other and then either accept or reject the other’s offer.
The second is the issue of satisfying customer needs and organisational goals. The focus of any marketer is the customer; indeed, marketing can be said to be customer-centric. To begin with, the marketer must identify who the customer is and what their needs are (this you will already hopefully have done in the export research section). This information is vital in shaping your future export marketing efforts. The information so far gathered will suggest what changes you need to incorporate into your product, what price you can pitch your product at, how best to inform the marketplace of your product, its attributes and where they can purchase it, and, finally, how best to get the product to the customer.
In addition to having a customer focus, it is important to realise that the companies do not go into business or export for no good reason. All organisations – whether profit-making firms or non-profit organisations – have certain goals. These goals may be to generate a return on investment for the firm’s shareholders or to delivery certain services to their target audience. As we are mainly dealing with private sector companies, the profit motive is the main organisational goal.
The process of planning and executing the activities that we have outlined above, suggests that the firm must bring together all of its resources (financial, equipment, labour and management skills) to achieve customer satisfaction and organisational goals. A total systems approach by the firm to its activities is therefore another key element of this definition.
|The American Marketing Association defines marketing as:|
“…the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, marketing communication and distribution of ideas, products and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organisational goals.”
The marketing concept
These three elements (i.e. customer focus, goal/profit orientation and total systems approach) combine to underpin the marketing concept, which says that in order to be marketing orientated, firms must take a systematic approach in their business activities, bringing to bear all of the resources of the firm in order to achieve customer satisfaction, while at the same time achieving company goals.
The marketing mix
- Planning and developing/adapting products (and their packaging), and services according to customer requirements
- Establishing prices that offer value to customers and a profit to the supplier
- Promoting products and services through personal selling, advertising, direct mail, the internet, etc.
- Distributing (also referred to as “place”, hence the 4Ps) the products and services from the supplier to the ultimate customer through appropriate distribution channels
These four activities constitute the traditional marketing mix and represent those aspects of marketing over which you, the marketer, have control.
The marketing environments
Leading on from the above statement, the variables comprising the marketing mix are sometimes referred to as controllable factors and represent the micro environment of the firm. They are referred to as controllable varibales because the firm has control over them and can (relatively easily) change them as may be thought appropriate. The marketing manager, however, must also take into account uncontrollable factors such as the market and macro environments within which the firm must operate. In the domestic market, the market environment includes shareholders, customers, suppliers and the other business partners of the firm, while in the foreign marketplace, the market environment includes the import intermediaries, customers and other organisations that the exporter must deal with in his/her export endeavours. The macro environment, on the other hand, includes the legal-, politic-, socio-cultural-, technological-, and economic-environments that firms around the world have to deal with on a daily basis. These environments we dealt with in step 1 of the export process – we link to them again here, should you wish to refresh yopur memory. The market and macro environments are also commonly referred to as the external environment, while the micro environment is known as the internal environment.
In both the case of the market and macro environments, the marketer has very little or even no control whatsoever. The marketer, for example, cannot change the cultural, legal or political environments within which they operate. Similarly, although they may be able to influence their suppliers or customers, they do not actual have full control over them; for this reason the variables in the market and macro environments are known as uncontrollable factors.
A company which is able to co-ordinate its entire business system including its finances, its machinery and equipment, its human resources, its competitive processes, its management expertise, and its marketing mix to focus on the satisfaction of customer needs profitably within a dynamic external environment is usually assured of success (quite a tall order, mind you). Against the background of the company’s overall business and marketing objectives, the challenge of the marketing manager is to use tools such as market research to mould the controllable elements of marketing (i.e. product, price, promotion and distribution) within the framework of the uncontrollable elements of the market place.
One mistake often made by some individuals is to confuse marketing with advertising or promotion or even selling. While marketing incorporates all of these things, it involves much more. Marketing drives the firm’s activities; from the research that is required to understand the firm’s potential customers, to sourcing and procuring the materials needed to manufacture the products that customers need at a price they can afford, to promoting and selling these products to customers, to ensuring that the products are delivered to the customers where they need them, and, finally, to ensuring that customers are satisfied with the firm’s efforts. Of course, the more foreign markets you attempt to target the more difficult and expensive your export marketing endeavours will become – it is therefore advisable to select a particular market at first and then once you have succeeded in this market, you can then extend your marketing endeavours to other markets.
Moving on to your export market strategy
The above discussion hopefully provides you with a broad overview of what marketing entails. Clearly, there is much more to marketing than this, but that is not part of the scope of this website. What we now need to do is to prepare an export marketing strategy. This strategy, we have already said. will outline how your firm intends to adapt the countrollable variables (the product, its price, promotion and distribution) to best meet the needs of the foreugn customer.
The export marketing strategy provides a fairly broad discussion of these four elements, with perhaps no more than a page or two being devoted to each of the four elements. In the coming sections we will discuss each element in more detail highlighting some of the issues that need to be considered when preparing your strategy in respect of each element.