Thursday, August 28, 2008


Currently we have easily around 20,000 graduates who are waiting to be employed. By June next year over 60,000 more graduates will be in the market. We can expect 50% of them to be unemployed. Why?

I think many institutions of higher learning are teaching students based on outdated syllabi and courses not customized to the needs of our industries. These institutions are concentrating on the development of students’ intelligent quotient (IQ) and less on emotional quotient (EQ) and social quotient (SQ). The EQ and SQ require soft skills training that should be part and parcel of today’s education. Even the IQ enhancing portion of education teaches students mostly to be excellent information gatherers rather than as critical thinkers and skilled in their chosen fields. The industries, in this fastmoving and highly competitive business environment can’t afford to spend time to retrain graduates. They want graduates of ready use (with the necessary skills), able to withstand pressure, work well in a team and know how to socialize and above all smart enough in handling customers.

If you browse through advertisements on job vacancies in the media, you will find easily around 80% of them are directly related to marketing – sales, customer relations, telesales, business development, after sale services, brand management etc. It is difficult to find job vacancies that suit your qualifications. Even then, if your skills in your particular fields are not up to expectations, rest assured that you will not be selected for these limited jobs. Sales, even if taboo to you are the only jobs around.. This is the reality of the day! What choice do you have now? Selling skills are in fact natural.

Everyone has the skills. A baby sells his/her cries to get milk! You must have sold yourselves well (in your studies, of course) to get your lecturers to give you your desired grades! You will have to sell yourselves creatively (show that you know how to love and take care of that special somebody) to attract your potential partners and your potential in-laws as well! Therefore selling is not taboo after all. The selling skills are part of you, like it or not! You need to develop them and keep on polishing them further. You can’t do these alone. You need experts to guide you. And above all, you need to have the right attitude and iron will to be a successful sales persons.

You do not need a qualification in marketing to be a good salesman. If you do have one, it will be an added advantage.

Remember this: Any business has two basic functions: MARKETING AND INNOVATION. (Drucker, 1955).

What is marketing? Before we define marketing we must understand the following terms first:• Market – the business of selling and buying commodities (products and services). It is not confined to space, locality and time. The internet enables market to be in cyber space, 24 hours a day (interactive online marketing). • Marketer- a person who promotes sales. • Market economy – Principles of free enterprise applied to market – less interventions from authorities. • Marketable – Commodities fit to be offered for sale. Marketing is the business of moving goods and services from the producer to the customer. It involves the act of promoting sales of commodities, including research, advertising and packaging.A universally accepted definition of marketing:

“Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipation and satisfying customer requirements profitably” – The Chartered Institute of Marketing. • Management process – forecasting, planning, coordinating, directing, controlling, monitoring, communicating and motivating. • Identifying – recognizing, specifying, selecting and prioritizing customer needs. • Anticipation – visualizing and projecting customer wants and desires. • Satisfying – meeting customer needs – value for money. • Customer – a person who agrees to offer to buy a commodity. • Profitably – good returns to investments.

A simpler definition of marketing is: “ Marketing is the creation, development and delivery of products and services that satisfy the needs and wants of the customer, at a profit.” – Madsen J. and Tan B. (2005) p.37.

Marketing must be an organizationwide practice. It must be focused on the customer, product & services and work with the segmentation of the markets in the most productive and cost-efficient manner to derive profitability.

The fundamental marketing goal is to capture and retain customers profitably. Core functions of marketing: • Marketing research establishes the needs and wants and the target market;• Product development creates the specifications to satisfy the target market; • Manufacturing makes the products in accordance with specifications;• Branding attaches an identity that differentiates the products from competitors’;• Advertising communicates brand value and benefits; • Promotion stimulates consumer demand and repeated purchases; • Sales and distribution ensures products are made available at retail outlets; • Logistics delivers the products cost-efficiently on a timely basis;• Merchandising maintains product quality and freshness at the retail outlets;• Customer service provides support for the products to reinforce customer value.Marketing is vital to the success of a business organization.

Everyone in the organization must be able to market its products and services. Successful marketing results in stronger products, happier and loyal customers and bigger profit. Skills demanded of marketing professionals: • Selling and sales management, including the collection of payments. • Advertising – creative ways with less expenditures.• Sales promotion – good communications skill.• Publicity.• Public relations• Exhibitions and other event management.• Packaging and branding• Corporate identity and image• Market research• Encourage word of mouth.

Above all, a marketing professional must master the art of persuasion (influencing and negotiating) and be patient, passionate and able to persevere at all times. He or she must accept the fact that the customer is always the king. He or she must aim to inform and educate the customer and satisfy his/her needs, provide good backup service, maintain relationship and make sure that the customer pay the bills (be a debt collector if you have to).Marketing has moved from customer acquisition (winning new customers); through customer retention (keeping existing customers for life); through customer selection (be selective in choosing customers – priority for the profitable ones).

If customers are wrongly selected they might end up as bargain hunters only who exploit sales promotion and move on and on. Keep loyal and profitable customers. Selling to them is more profitable than winning the new ones. Lifetime customer with lifetime values against one-off sales syndrome.What are the rights of the customer?

Farber (2005 p.155) list down the followings:• The customer has the right to be told the truth• The customer has the right to expect the salesperson to have expert knowledge • The customer has the right to expect that all promises and commitments will be kept• The customer has the right to be treated with dignity and respect• The customer has the right to expect satisfaction from the product or service• The customer has the right to a breakdown of costs and fees• The customer has the right to service and support• The customer has the right to have calls returned promptly even when he or she may be calling with a problem or to complainHow to be effective in marketing?

Effective marketing is often described as “making what you can sell, not selling what you can make”. Organizations that sell what they can make are product-led: they make the product first, consider customers afterwards, and see marketing simply as a means of persuading customers to buy. The most successful organizations make what they can sell. They are customer-led, creating products and services in response to customer need.

Everyone markets something without even realizing it throughout his or her life. Marketing is not mere selling. But selling is at the heart of marketing. Like it or not, marketing has been, is and will certainly be part and parcel of our life. If you are looking for a suitable job, you must know how to market yourself. If you want to win a competition you must understand and practice the art of marketing, more so on the ability to communicate and influence your target audience effectively and master the ways to develop a saleable brand out of yourself or your products and se vices. Learning marketing formally from experts will definitely help you to understand and put to practice the proven ways of doing marketing.

Main references:
Faber, B.J. “State of the Art of Selling” Advantage Quests Pub: P.J. Malaysia
Moi, A. (2001) “Marketing Effectively”. Dorling Kingdersley: Hampton.
Kotler,P. (2003) “Principles of Marketing”. 4th edit. Prentice-Hall: New York.
Madsen, J. and Tan, B. (2005) “The Streetwise Marketer”. MIM : Kuala Lumpur.
Taylor J. and Smith P. (2004) “Marketing Communications” 4th edit. Kogan Pag: London

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