Over the past week, I have spent many hours exploring and researching the importance and process of marketing - a key element that determines a large amount of the prolonged success and longevity of a brand.

 Having studied business economics, business management and marketing, I was thrilled to finally have the chance to apply the knowledge gained to a practical experience. I quickly realized that understanding the learning material was easy, however the application of this knowledge was not going to be going a short joyride. As Jay Levinso once stated, "Marketing is not an event, but a process . . . It has a beginning, a middle, but never an end, for it is a process. You improve it, perfect it, change it, even pause it. But you never stop it completely."

My starting point within my research was to explore the importance of marketing. After asking a few of my work contacts and friends about the importance of marketing I realized that many of them understood marketing as a tool to gain a larger market share, in other words increasing your clientele. This is indeed the main reason for marketing, however it is important to understand that marketing is so much more. It is a process, where the results and outcome are ten-fold. The results of successful marketing can also consist of building customer relationships, creating brand awareness, creating and sustaining a favorable image or reputation of your business as well as allowing you to stay one step ahead of your competitors.

As part of my research I started to explore how individual South African designers market their designs and businesses. I was astounded to see that the majority of designers don’t invest their capital or time in marketing campaigns, as seen with basically every overseas brand. They merely depend on the exposure that accompanies fashion weeks, magazine editorials, celebrity endorsements and websites. If you look at international brands that are marketed in South Africa, the appeal is huge! I find myself extremely surprised that we are not using the media and other marketing tools to their full potential. Thinking back to an article I wrote about 2 weeks ago, entitled "Trend Setters- to be or not to be?" I could not help think that a mitigating circumstance as to why South African designers are not recognized at an international level is the fact that we are not marketing our talents to a large enough extent.

I have come to understand that marketing really does hold the key to unlock the door to success. It requires a whole lot of patience and constant, consistent and dedicated effort before a business can begin to build a reputation, but the effort seems well worth it. As I have just begun to peel off the first layer, I have so much more marketing research ahead of me, and I hope that you will enjoy my future findings and marketing plan template that will be posted up next week In "Marketing is key-part 2."

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