Marketing and selling your products or services

Marketing and sales are related but different. Marketing looks at everything to do with getting a product or service to customers, from development to pricing, place and promotion.  

Sales focuses on place and promotion, to make sure that where and how you sell are right for your customers.

Marketing looks at everything from start to finish

Marketing is an umbrella term for the co-ordinated process of getting a product or service into the hands of customers.

Marketers use what they know about the target customer to shape the four Ps of their marketing strategy:

  • product – how to develop the product
  • price – what price to set
  • place – where and how to sell the product
  • promotion – how to promote the product.

These four elements make up your marketing mix. For example, you’d want to make sure your leading product is priced, placed and promoted correctly for your market.

How marketing sets you up for success

The Internet has made reaching your customers much easier and cheaper than before — no matter where they are. Making the most of your online presence lets you get to know your customers better and strengthen your business.

Assess how you use social media planning, building engagement, email marketing and advertising online. See how you rate and where you should focus.

At the end of this assessment you’ll get:

  • a better idea of your digital marketing strengths and weaknesses
  • practical tips and links to expert advice.

5 - 10 minutes

Self assessment: Digital marketing

Social media engagement

group of people

Did you know...

About 3.03 billion people are on social media around the globe, according to BrizFeel (publishers of digital marketing stats).

How much does your business use social media to engage with customers?

Social media engagement

Tool group talking

Did you know...

More than 70% of people who experience good customer service on social media recommend that business to others, according to Local Measure (customer experience specialists).

How much value does your business get from social media?


woman at computer

Did you know...

3.5 million Kiwis are active on social media and spend an average of 1 hour 53 minutes there every day, according to research by Hootsuite and We Are Social.

How well does your business plan its social media activity?

Email marketing

people at desk

Did you know...

Email marketing is the most cost-effective advertising method available today, as well as the most measurable, according to Harvard Business Review.

How much does your business use email marketing?

Email marketing

woman business planning

Did you know...

It’s a very safe bet that email will beat all your other marketing methods in terms of return on investment. — Harvard Business Review

How much value does your business get from email marketing?


woman at computer

Did you know...

According to CoSchedule, a series of US-based studies suggest that:

  • the best day to send email is Tuesday, followed by Thursday and then Wednesday
  • the best time to send email is 10am, followed by 8pm, 2pm, and 6am.

How well does your business plan its email marketing activities?

Paid advertising

group of people

Did you know...

Social media is the most relevant advertising channel for Generation Z and Millennials, according to Adobe's Digital Insights.

How much paid advertising do you do on social media platforms?

Paid advertising

business woman

Did you know...

Around 65% of people click on Google ads when looking to buy an item online, according to WordStream (online advertising specialists).

How much do you use other methods to advertise online (such as displaying advertisements or appearing in search results)?

Sales is about place and promotion

Sales is made up of:

  • place – do you sell through a wholesaler, through a retailer or directly to the consumer?
  • promotion – what sales, public relations, and advertising decisions do you make?

Place and promotion are equally important parts that should work together in your marketing plan. For example, you may decide to sell your product or service directly on your own website, instead of sharing your profit with a wholesaler or retailer. But if you later find that advertising and attracting customers to your website is too costly, you might reconsider using a wholesaler or retailer.

Look at your whole marketing mix before making promotion decisions, even common decisions like special offers and discount vouchers. Check that the promotion is suitable for your product or service.

Selling in all the right places

Find the best way to promote your business

The influence of market research

Marketing plans are based around the marketing mix, but to optimise each of the four Ps, marketers first carry out market research in several key areas.

Customer research

Marketers study the market (customers) to determine demand for a new product, and identify target markets so products can be marketed more effectively to the right type of customers.

One of the most common mistakes businesses make is assuming their product or service will appeal to everybody, but that’s never the case. Your offering will always appeal more to some types of customers and demographics than others. Focusing on the types that they appeal to is the most cost-effective way to find success. 

The trick is accurately identifying your target markets through surveys, discussion groups and other common market research methods.

Expand your market

After you’ve been in business a while, you might want to expand where you do business, the “place” part of your marketing mix. You might want more customers to grow your business. You might want to be less dependent on one or two markets, so you spread your risk. Or you might want to offer a slightly different product or service that’s more suited to a different market.

Grow in New Zealand

You could grow domestically. Already have a shop in Christchurch? Why not open another in Wellington? Growing in the same country means you already know the culture, language and laws. You’ll be in the same time zone, so you don’t have to think about time differences when you arrange meetings. Want to visit the shop? Just book a flight or drive over. 

Draw on government funds and support for businesses that expand into different regions of the country.

Explore Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit(external link) — Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Discover New Zealand’s regions(external link) — New Zealand Trade and Enterprise

Grow overseas

Growing internationally is more challenging. Even if you open a shop “next door” in Australia, you’ll have lots to wrangle. Sure, they speak English too, and the culture is similar. But they have different laws and regulations.

When you set prices and budgets, you’ll need to think of currency fluctuations too. Depending on how exchange rates change, you might earn less (or more) than you expect.

But you can usually overcome such challenges by doing research, and by being prepared to learn and adjust. Success will be rewarding, and will take your businesses to new heights.

What you need to know about exporting

Create a good export plan

Get export support from the government

Growth requires thought

Wherever you grow, you’ll need to plan for it. You’ll need to think about why you want to expand, and which market is right for your product. Even if you “just” grow within New Zealand, you’ll need to do your research.

Which place works best for your other Ps (product, price and promotion)? Will you need to adjust your marketing mix? You might not be able to create an exact copy of your business in the new place. 

How will you finance your growth? Doing market research, setting up a shop or an office, recruiting staff, and so on all take time and money. Depending on your business, it could take a few years to earn back that money. 

Can you find advisors who understand the market and culture? Will you be able to recruit the staff you need? If a lot of your business comes from foot traffic, is there enough foot traffic throughout the year?

Test if you’re ready to grow

Hear how a Wellington-based start-up used statistics and data to research their potential market, refine their product, build a case for investment and make better business decisions.

Video transcript

Competitor research

Identifying threats is an important part of marketing. Often your biggest threats are competitors.

Find out your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses to compete effectively. You could create a special deal or make a special offer to compete. Or you could identify their strengths and make sure you improve in those areas, to close the gap between you.

You could research your competitors online, or through mystery shopping. (Mystery shopping is when you get someone else to shop with competitors to find out more about them. They look for detail on things like products, pricing, deals and customer service).

SWOT your business

SWOT stands for “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats”. A SWOT analysis is a great way to assess what your business does well, and where you’ll need to improve. It can also help you identify ways you can exploit opportunities, and to identify and prepare for potential threats to your business success.

How to write a business plan

Businesses often use a SWOT analysis to develop their plans and approach, including their marketing goals.

Your analysis can start as simply as drawing a large square and dividing it into four smaller squares. Fill in each square with one element of the SWOT analysis: your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

For example, a SWOT analysis might help you identify that:

  • your strength is your brand reputation in your core market
  • your weakness is your reliance on one core product for revenue
  • an opportunity is a current lack of significant players in a related emerging market
  • your threat is a competitor’s diverse product streams.

You might now decide to enter a new market to improve your position in all four areas.

Do you know when to give a customer a refund, repair or replacement? Take this quiz to find out. When you're done, follow the links in the answers for more details.

Do use complaints to improve your customer service and your business as a whole.

Do use complaints to improve your customer service and your business as a whole.

Complaints can be a valuable source of data. Use this data to identify problems — and see if your solutions are working.

Analysing complaints data

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