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Marketing explained

There are many definitions of marketing. Broadly, it involves activities that help to build your brand and business. It’s about identifying and understanding your customers, and developing products and services that meet their needs. Marketing requires careful planning and research – but investing time and money now will pay off in the long term.

Marketing is more than just advertising and logos, it can be across many areas of your business, including:

  • how your customers are greeted on the phone
  • your customer service procedures
  • what your staff wear
  • your email signature.

Benefits of marketing

Good marketing tells a story about your business and gives your customers a reason to purchase from you instead of your competitors. It helps you to look at everything in your business that could affect how your customers identify you.

Writing a marketing plan can help you define certain aspects of your business and focus on your priorities.

Marketing and position

Marketing aims to build your brand and business. It can help you to reach your customers, attract new ones and increase your profit. But before you plan your marketing, you need to have a clear idea of your business’s position in the market.

Positioning is your business niche or how you want your customers to think about your products or services. For example, is your business a budget choice for families? Or do you offer more high-end services?

Positioning helps you to be clear and focused in your marketing efforts. It shows what your business does, who you do it for and why you're different from your competitors.

You can use key features such as your location, your experience or packaging, to position your business. For example, a home-based accountant might use their international experience to position themselves as an up-market service provider.

The 5 Ps of marketing

Once you have a clear idea of your positioning, you can use the 5Ps of marketing to reach your target market. Working your way through each of the Ps can help you identify areas of your business you can change or improve on – to meet your targeted customers’ needs.

Product refers to what you are offering as a whole. What exactly are you selling to your customers? This includes the value added features, branding and packaging as well as service and warranty terms.

For example, if you're a jewellery maker who is looking to grow your business, you might think about giving your customers a free gift wrapping service as an incentive to buy from you.

Find out more about product labelling

Price refers to the way you set prices for your products or services. It generally includes all the parts that make up your overall cost, including the advertised price, any discounts, sales, credit terms or other payment arrangements or price matching services you offer.

Your pricing will also depend on your business's position in the market. For example, if you advertise your business as a budget car rental service, your pricing should reflect that choice. If you're looking to grow your business, consider if your pricing reflects your positioning.

Read more about pricing

Promotion refers to all the activities and methods you use to promote your business and products. This includes sales, public relations, direct marketing and advertising. For example, if you're growing your sports management business, you might add sponsorships to your marketing mix to help promote your business. Your promotional strategy will be part of your marketing plan.

Things to consider before promoting your business:

  • Before you start any promotion, write down your goals and objectives. You’ll then be able to track and evaluate your success after the campaign. This will help you decide whether to take this approach or to trial different promotions in the future.
  • Have a good understanding of who your target customers are. Look for ways to make sure your promotional activities are reaching them.
  • Know where to advertise or promote, it could be through the internet, social media, word of mouth, flyer, ad in a publication, online, on radio or TV. Find out how your current customers find you, then target your advertisements and promotions in these areas.
  • Have a budget as advertising and promotion can be expensive. Pick options that will give you the best value for money, while still reaching your target customers. Remember, the cheapest option is not always the best. The best option will be whatever is most effective for your business. Some budget-friendly advertising options include flyers, posters, social media and newsletters.

Place refers to how you deliver your product or service to your customers. This might include the physical location (such as a shopfront, online or a distributor), your delivery methods and how you manage your stock levels. For example, you could choose to provide your product from a shopfront, over the internet or through a distributor.

If you're looking to grow your business, you might consider changing or expanding the way you sell your products and services. For example, if you're a homewares distributor, you might think about setting up a new store in a different location or offering franchises. Or you might consider setting up an online website to supply other businesses.

People refers to you, your staff and your customers. This covers customer service, as well as communication and training for your staff.

For example, if you're thinking of expanding your business online, you'll need to think about:

  • how your customers use the internet
  • how comfortable would they feel purchasing your goods online
  • whether they’d be willing to pay shipping costs for your products
  • if your staff have the skills to manage a website
  • if you need to provide further staff training.

Learn more about customer service

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