Marketing is the process of getting a product from the idea and development stage into the hands of the consumer. Thus, virtually any method or system used to facilitate this process is considered a marketing tool. Marketing tools like cost accounting are used to price products. Marketing tools are also used to design packages, to assess consumer satisfaction and to promote a company's products and services.
A survey questionnaire is a marketing research tool that is used to get feedback from consumers. Questionnaires can be administered by phone, by mail or online. Questionnaires enable a company to learn what consumers think about the company's products and competing products. Questionnaires also can be used to gauge potential consumer demand for a particular product that a company plans to introduce.
Direct Mail Advertising
Direct mail is another effective marketing tool. A direct mail solicitation usually consists of a sales letter, brochure and order form. In direct mail, companies usually purchase a targeted mailing list from a mailing list vendor and then send their materials to potential customers. Direct mail can be used to obtain orders directly or to generate leads. Direct mail also can be distributed in a magazine or in a package that contains advertising from various companies.
Another popular marketing tool is advertising that appears in printed publications such as newspapers, newsletters or magazines. A company can place classified ads or display ads to promote its products. Also, a company's public relations department can distribute information through news releases in an attempt to gain news coverage of the company's products.
The Internet is a highly effective way to reach millions of potential customers. Most companies present both company and product information on their website. Some websites are used for lead generation while others are used for direct orders. Companies can promote their websites on the Internet through various search engines like yahoo.com and google.com, using banners or pay-per-click advertising. Companies also maintain databases of current customers and periodically promote new products to them through e-mail.
TV advertising is more fragmented today because there are so many cable and satellite channels, but it is still an effective marketing tool. Major sporting events like the Super Bowl or Indianapolis 500 provide companies with huge audiences to market their products and services. Cheaper TV advertising is available at the local level or during non-peak hours.
Radio advertising can be an effective advertising tool because companies can target specific age groups on various stations. Also, a company's public relations department can try to arrange for company representatives to be interviewed on radio programs.
Many businesses such as car dealerships or insurance agencies use referrals as a marketing tool. A customer simply writes down the names and numbers of friends or family members who can become potential customers. Referrals are one of the most effective marketing tools to attract new customers, according to the article "Ten Marketing Tools for Home-Based Businesses" at allbusiness.com. This is especially true for small-business owners and direct-sales companies.