Companies of all sizes depend on customers buying their products or services. After all without customers any business will fail, and spreading the word about your business is the job of your marketing partners. But marketing is more than just advertising your company with billboards or in the local newspaper. It is about creating a presence, or a brand for your company and making sure that people know about it. Marketing 101 teaches that there are four aspects to all marketing functions. Often called the four P's, marketing looks at the product, price, place, and promotion. You have to have a product or service to sell. The product has to meet your customers needs in some way, even if sometimes

the customer doesn't even know they have a need to begin with. Pricing is not just a function of the accounting department. Of course you need to sell your product at a price to cover your costs and earn a profit. But marketing professionals know that a change in the price can have a dramatic affect on the sales volume. By looking at what people are willing to pay, a marketing professional can help you decide to shave a few dollars off each item or service call in return for increased sales.

Sometimes, you might even find your selling for too little money and with the right persuasion, people may pay you more. The third P represents the place where your product is being sold. If you are a manufacturer of toys, for example, of course you want your product in all the toy stores, but a marketing professional can look at other places where your toy might sell well like gas stations, or grocery stores and help you secure placement in those channels. Finally, promotion is the classic function of marketing, but it goes beyond the traditional advertising. Promotion involves the creation of your company's personality or its brand. Your brand is important because it is how your customers perceive you and your products. Classic companies like Coca-Cola, Purina, and Microsoft invest millions of dollars to make sure their brands are well known and customers can easily identify with the company's products and philosophy. A marketing professional will look at everything from the font and logo on your business cards to the image your products have in your customer's minds. Of course, promotion also means advertising, and a true marketer will select the best places for you to advertise that both sells your product but enhances your brand with your customers.