Basics of the "Micro" Marketing Environment
The Marketing Environment
A company’s marketing environment consists of all of the influences and forces inside and outside the field of marketing that affect marketing management’s ability to build and maintain successful relationships with current and prospective customers.
This Hub will take a close-up look at marketing's "micro" environment. In planning for marketing, which includes all that precedes development of marketing plans, marketing management must take into consideration external and internal concerns, issues, opportunities, and threats, as well as the company's strengths and weaknesses. And, although the "micro" marketing environment consists of elements that are external to marketing management, the company has input into how it operates within its micro environment, and that input provides an element of control.
More than any other group in a corporate setting, marketing personnel must be on top of trend tracking and opportunity seeking. They must understand and know how to use disciplined methods of marketing intelligence and marketing research to collect as much information as possible about the marketing environment. They must be willing and able to learn continuously, spending as much time as possible absorbing information from its micro environment--which includes its customers and its competitors.
The Company’s Micro Environment
For a company to be successful, those responsible for marketing must be able to manage or to react to things that happen in its micro environment (including those things that are "close" to the company). "Micro" level occurrences can affect any firm's ability to serve or to respond, as needed, to its customers, suppliers, intermediaries, selling markets, competitors, and publics.
With this in mind, the micro environment of marketing includes six major areas of concern that, potentially, can exert a more "immediate" effect on a company's marketing program. These areas include:
- The whole organization that makes up the company, from top management to personnel in all departments outside of marketing. (The company itself, not normally considered as part of the micro environment, is included here because relationships inside the company, not under the direct control of marketing management, have inputs that can influence/impact the success of marketing management).
- Those consumer markets representing the company's customers or its best customer prospects.
- The company's suppliers.
- The company's marketing channel intermediaries.
- Competitors inside the market(s) in which the company competes.
- The company's publics--those people and/or organizations with the potential to exert influence or have an impact on the company's ability to achieve its goals.
1. The whole organization influences marketing decision-making
Everything that makes up the internal environment of the organization helps to make it a viable business, and, therefore, plays a role in marketing's micro environment. This includes everything from top management to marketing personnel, to all other departments and personnel employed by the company.
The table below includes some of the major decisions and responsibilities that must be carried out by personnel in departments across the organization, that are linked to marketing success:
Plan/develop company/organizational mission, vision, objectives/guiding strategies and business policies.
Develop plans/make decisions for marketing, within the parameters of plans made by top management.
Other Company Departments
From accounting, to IT, to R&D and HR, company departments produce better results when department objectives are aligned with overall strategic objectives.
All Departments & All Personnel
Need to put customers first, for marketing to be as successful as possible. Job #1 is doing all that's possible to provide the most value and satisfaction for customers.
2. Markets of customers/prospective customers
An organization's customers can include one or a variety of markets, such as:
- Consumer markets (individuals and households that buy goods and services for personal consumption.
- Business markets (those buying goods and services for further procession or for use in their production process).
- Reseller markets (those buying good and services to resell at a profit) producers, resellers, and governments).
Government markets (government agencies that buy goods and services to produce public services or transfer the goods and services to others who need them).
International markets (consist of buyers in other countries, including consumers, producers, resellers, and governments.)
3. The company's suppliers
Suppliers—Someone must supply the resources a company needs to produce products/services. That means a firm's suppliers are a critical part of it's existence because they make it possible to create and deliver value to customers.
Companies that are marketing products and services must pay careful attention to supply availability. They must keep watch on pricing trends, as they treat their suppliers as partners in creating and delivering customer value.
4. Marketing channel Intermediaries
Marketing intermediaries are companies that help in the selling, promotion, and distribution of products to a firm's final buyers. Intermediaries include such groups as:
- Resellers--(includes distribution channel firms that help the company find and/or sell to final buyers). This group includes wholesalers and retailers. Some reseller firms are powerful and demanding, so much so that it can be difficult for companies to work with them.
- Distributors--These are the companies that help to warehouse (store and protect goods) and move goods from their points of origin to their destinations.
- Advertising/marketing services--Advertising/promotional agencies, media agencies, marketing research firms are companies that supply the help that is needed to promote products by targeting/reaching/communicating the best prospects for products and services.
- Finance-related intermediaries--This group includes banks, insurance companies, and credit-related agencies that supply the financing needed for the conduct of business, and insurance against risks connected with the conduct of business.
5. The company's competitors
The marketing landscape is filled with competitors of all kinds. Most companies have a wide range of competitors, and therefore must work hard to gain and to keep a strategic advantage.
Those responsible for marketing planning must determine the best way to strongly position (communicate to consumers how to "think" about offerings) the company's products/services against competitive offerings. A company's size and standing in its industry are important considerations for marketers when planning positioning strategies and tactics.
6. The company's publics
It is important for marketing management to appreciate the value of having good relations with all of a company's many publics. A public is any group with an actual or a potential interest in the company or its products/services, that might exert influence on an organization’s ability to achieve its objectives. When planning and developing strategic marketing plans, careful consideration should be given to each of its major publics.
The most important among the company's external publics is the “customer public.” This public includes those already patronize the company or purchase/use its products or services, and those the company sees as “potential” customers.
Next, there is the general/local public, or anyone located where a company's products/services are distributed or sold—locally, regionally, or nationally—that might influence its ability to achieve marketing objectives. A local public includes neighborhood residents as well as community organizations.
Other external publics include:
- Financial publics: People with the ability to influence or impact a company’s access to credit and/or its ability to obtain funds.
- Media publics: Professionals with the ability to publish news, features, and editorial opinions about a company that can affect or influence what others believe about the company.
- Government publics: Those with the ability to affect the company or its products/services through legislation and laws that could regulate or restrict product manufacturing or marketing efforts.
- Citizen-action publics: Organized groups with special interests who could question the actions of a company, potentially placing it in the public spotlight.
And last, but certainly not least, is the company’s internal publics. These include employees, executives, managers, volunteers, and members of the boards of directors, those who, through their work, keep the company producing products and/or delivering services. Internal publics are just as important as external ones, and should never be taken for granted.
This Hub's Author
Dr. Middlebrook is a former college professor of marketing and mass communications. She spent nearly twenty years behind the desk teaching courses in advertising, marketing, public relations, and journalism. In addition, she worked, for many years, as a consultant and as an employee in corporate marketing and communications.
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© 2012 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD