People�s needs and wants change daily, and marketers constantly advertise a plethora of products for customer attention and interest. This makes the marketing process very dynamic. At times, it seems like everybody is searching for an exchange. At other times, it seems nobody is. Marketing exchanges depend on three types of participants: customers, markets (groups of customers), and marketers.
Customers are the people or organizations who consume goods and services. They fall into three general categories: current customers, prospective customers, and centers of influence.
Current customers have already bought something from a business; in fact, they may buy it regularly. One way to measure a business�s success is by calculating the number of its current customers and their repeat purchases. Prospective customers are people about to make an exchange or considering it. Centers of influence are those customers, prospective customers, or opinion leaders whose ideas and actions others respect. A center of influence is often the link to many prospective customers.
The second participant in the marketing process is the market, which is simply a group of current customers, prospective customers, and noncustomers who share a common interest, need, or desire; who have the money to spend to satisfy needs or solve problems; and who have the authority to make expenditure decisions. Market never includes everybody. Companies advertise to four broad classifications of markets:
- Consumer markets comprise people who buy goods and services for their own use. Both Nissan and Ford, for example, aim at the consumer market. But they cater to different groups within that market. They advertise some vehicles to single women; others to upscale young families; and still others to retired people.
- Business markets are composed of organizations that buy services, natural resources, and component products that they resell, use to conduct their business, or use to manufacture another product.
- Government markets buy products for municipal, state, federal, and other government activities. Some firms are immensely successful selling only to government markets. They advertise post office vehicles, police and military weapons, and tax collector office equipment in trade magazines read by government buyers.
- Transnational (or global) markets include any of the other three markets located in foreign countries.
The third participant in the marketing process, marketers, includes every person or organization that has products, services, or ideas to sell. Manufacturers market consumer and business products. Farmers market wheat; doctors market medical services; banks market financial products; and political organizations market philosophies and candidates. To be successful, marketers must know their markets intimately�before they start advertising.