Operational marketing is a crucial area impacting the performance of companies. It is the marketing actions taken to achieve the objectives defined by the marketing strategy.
Ahmed et al. (2014) emphasizes in their research that the internal resources related to marketing and operations are an essential point of the performance and competitiveness of a company. This impact is notably moderated by economic conditions and top management’s involvement in creating and providing marketing and operational resources.
If you only have 30 seconds
- Operational marketing consists of setting up different actions to achieve the objectives defined by the marketing strategy.
- These actions are based on market knowledge and analysis as well as overall marketing objectives.
- Operational marketing is short-term and therefore has the advantage that it can be adapted according to the different actions’ success.
- Operational Marketing: definition
- Marketing Mix
- Some operational marketing tools
- Performance Indicators
Operational marketing is based on strategic marketing and information, comments, and data from the field to define concrete actions to meet the company’s marketing objectives. The actions thus defined can (and should) be adapted over time based on feedback and performance.
Several steps are necessary before implementing these actions:
- Market research aimed at understanding the market’s issues
- Strategic marketing that defines an overall direction and long-term objectives.
- Operational marketing, which breaks down objectives into concrete action points in the short term.
Operational marketing is the means to achieve the objectives set by the company in terms of marketing strategy. It is thus a question of defining the promotional and communication actions to be carried out. The goals can be diverse and varied and revolve around sales and turnover, but increasingly around brand awareness.
The marketing mix, theorized for the first time by Neil Borden, is one of operational marketing’s main levers. Over time, several approaches have been developed to identify consumer needs and appropriately implement products and services.
The 4 P’s
- Product: This involves defining product characteristics (design, utility, use, options), ranges (e.g., associated products), packaging, associated services, and conditions linked to the product (guarantees, returns, life cycle).
- Price: This applies to the pricing strategy(ies), the chosen positioning, discounts, and means of payment.
- Place: This point is closely linked to the presence of the product(s) on the market. It is a question of determining the implementation strategies, market coverage, distribution channels (offline or online), geographical presence, etc.
- Promotion: As you can imagine, it is a question here of defining communication strategies (advertising, direct marketing, digital marketing), establishing an editorial line (messages, content, communication channels, media, frequency of communication).
The 7 P’s
The 7 P’s were developed in response to a strong demand from marketers to recognize the strategic and operational difference between products and services. To the 4 P’s have been added 3 analyses:
- People: This aspect includes training needs, customer relationship management, and complaint management guidelines. The aim is to link strategy and the representation of the brand by the staff.
- Process: This involves defining the company’s processes, the procedures put in place: the degree of standardization, performance analysis, best practices, etc.
- Physical evidence: This point corresponds to the elements external to the service but influencing the consumer’s perception: layout, design, and decoration of the space, ambient conditions (temperature, smell, sound).
The 4 C’s
We are also talking about the 4 C’s, which allow a new segmentation of operational marketing by considering the customer perspective.
- Consumer: The objective is to highlight the needs and desires of consumers to respond to them in the best possible way.
- Cost: This aspect encompasses much more than the “price” of the 4 P’s since it considers the entire investment of the consumer with, for example, the time spent to find the item. For example, going to Disneyland doesn’t just cost the price of a ticket to the park. It also considers the high probability that the consumer needs to buy a train ticket, a night in a hotel, that the purchase is made for a group, etc.
- Convenience: The ease of access to the product or service in question and ease of use, simplified purchase, etc.
- Communication: This involves going beyond advertising options and creating a real dialogue between a brand and its customers.
Many tools are available to carry out operational marketing actions: direct marketing, advertising, digital marketing. The options are not lacking and are continually evolving.
- Direct marketing aims to disseminate a message to a defined target (B2B, B2C, B2B2C) in a personalized and incentive way. Different goals can be associated with it: acquisition, conversion, loyalty…
- Advertising: television, radio, out-to-box (mail), OOH, i.e., Out-Of-Home (billboards), paper ads (in newspapers and magazines, for example), or on digital platforms. We have dedicated an article to the impact of covid-19 on the advertising industry.
- Digital marketing or web-marketing includes all the marketing techniques implemented on digital channels (websites, social networks, e-mailing, SEO, SEA, etc.).
These tools can be integrated into inbound or outbound marketing strategies.
- Inbound marketing is the creation of content that attracts visitors and loyal readers to the brand. This blog is an excellent example of this: we publish articles on subjects close to your interests and our industry: market research, marketing, and big data. Another example is the publication of our podcasts and videos on our YouTube channel.
- As for outbound marketing, it corresponds to more traditional and unidirectional approaches such as canvassing, advertising, and telemarketing.
To ensure the relevance of the actions with the established marketing strategy, it will be imperative to measure their performance. In this way, you will adapt investments according to the most promising channels or content. For your website, for example, go to Google Analytics. You will find many KPIs such as the number of visitors, page views, source of traffic, conversion rate, etc. This will allow you to improve pages with gaps or simplify access to these pages (internal link building). An e-mailing campaign can be measured by the opening rate, the rate of clicks, unsubscription, or deliverability.
Performance indicators are incredibly dependent on the action (communication channel, content, format, etc.) and objective (AIDA: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action).
The conversion funnel (AIDA)
- Awareness corresponds to the awareness of the existence of your brand and its values. You want to attract qualified prospects that you have targeted beforehand according to their issues. Then measure the number of visitors, on your website or in your store, that you can associate with a marketing effort.
- Interest is linked to the interest in a product or service. Among the visitors to your website resulting from the marketing activities, how many go to one or more pages of your website?
- Desire is the intermediate step between perceived interest and action. It can be a question of defining how much time a visitor has spent on a product page, for example.
- Action is traditionally linked to purchase but can take different forms: addition to the basket, to the wish list, subscription to your newsletter, for example.
Increasingly, customer loyalty and recommendations are integrated into this model. They are a crucial lever for customer satisfaction and the promotion of your company. Nespresso has understood this very well: in this article, we detail the techniques implemented by the famous coffee brand to build customer loyalty from the very first online purchases. Several research studies prove that design is a crucial factor in customer loyalty.
Lackermair et al. (2013) and many other scientific publications highlight the importance of customer recommendations on purchasing behavior. Indeed, it is increasingly common for consumers to conduct in-depth research before making a significant purchase (vehicle, household appliances, etc.). Beyond word of mouth, the opinions published by your customers can have a positive but also a negative impact on the perception of your brand, product, or service.importance-product-reviews-lackermair
For example, a Facebook ad aimed at generating awareness, attention towards your brand can be evaluated according to the number of clicks redirected to your website or the time spent viewing the video if it is the format you have chosen. An advertisement on social networks with a conversion objective should be analyzed via the number of clicks concerning the number of purchases and the average basket resulting from this action.
Operational marketing can take many forms. Many media are flourishing; to give just two examples: videos are referenced among the first results of a Google search, and podcasts are growing in popularity. It is mainly a question of implementing short-term actions to achieve the marketing strategy objectives established over the long term.
- Blythe, J. (2009). Key Concepts in Marketing. SAGE Publications Ltd.
- Kasabov, E. (2015). Marketing Mix. Wiley Encyclopedia of Management, 1–1.
- Ahmed, M. U., Kristal, M. M., & Pagell, M. (2014). Impact of operational and marketing capabilities on firm performance: Evidence from economic growth and downturns. International Journal of Production Economics, 154, 59–71.
- Lackermair, G., Kailer, D., Kanmaz, K. (2013). Importance of Online Product Reviews from a Consumer’s Perspective. Advances in Economics and Business, 1(1), 1-5.