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Introduction: Academic Life Imitating Christian Life
Parables in the Bible teach us valuable lessons about life. Jesus Christ told many simple yet appealing stories. Each story was crafted to teach us good morals and lessons about love, family, friendship, faith, and righteousness, which will ultimately help us become the kind of people God wants us to be. In the same way, students study many different courses in their education programs so that they could learn all necessary concepts and information that would help them become competent professionals as they continue to pursue their chosen career paths. This is why I am convinced of the importance of taking up different courses in higher education. Just as Jesus Christ taught different values of faith, love, and hope through His well-crafted stories that enlighten us spiritually and emotionally, academic institutions offer a variety of courses so that students could learn various concepts, theories, and ideas that help us become intelligent. I studied three different courses related to business recently: Marketing Strategy, Business Finance, and Marketplace Economics. I believe that like it is with parables, breaking up courses into separate digestible parts helped me grasp all necessary concepts required for us to become efficient and God-fearing business professionals today and in the future.
Synthesis: Concepts in Marketing Strategy, Business Finance, and Marketplace Economics
Organization’s marketing strategies, financial management practices, and knowledge of marketplace economics encompass different aspects of leadership and management. When taken collectively, the combination of strategic marketing, financial management, and application of economics in business planning is critical for success of any organization because these practices influence business outcomes. For instance, economic conditions in the marketplace help organizations determine purchasing power of consumers. They also help determine trends in consumption and consequently make important decisions in selecting target market segments based on income and expenditure of these segments on particular products. Following the evaluation of the marketplace economy, organizations develop marketing strategies to attract the attention of their target market segments. Implementation of marketing strategies, however, will depend on organization’s capacity to spend. Through proper financial management, the organization can allocate resources appropriately to achieve its marketing objectives as well as organization’s overall mission and objectives.
Concepts taught in each course help answer questions that arise during the application of marketing, financial, and economic practices. Financial management helps the organization identify its existing capital. Economics helps the organization determine how to invest its capital. Lastly, strategic marketing helps the organization determine which market segments the organization should invest in. Overall, marketing strategies, finance management, and marketplace economics in the business context could be considered as determinants of organizational success. They also help the organization set up goals and objectives, conduct business planning, and make important decisions.
During the first stages of business development, the management must determine what direction the business will take considering its working capital, business strengths and capabilities, business risks and weaknesses, competition, and marketplace environment. One of the main objectives of business organizations is to earn profit. Therefore, planning and decision-making processes must be structured to enable the business to do so. In this case, applying concepts in marketplace economics is a good starting point in business planning because it reflects conditions in the market. In business planning and decision-making, a manager must evaluate economic conditions in the market. These include the flow of goods and services to households, which would consequently influence factors of production. The Circular Flow of Economic Activity (Welch & Welch, 2009) illustrates how household income and expenditure shapes the workflow in business organization. The cycle begins with the evaluation of household expenditures that determine prevalent market segments and products in the market. Consequently, consumer spending patterns influence elements of production in businesses. Household spending determines the volume of sales in the market, which determines how resources are acquired or allocated among businesses. “Businesses need resources, or factors of production, which belong to households, to produce goods and services” (Welch & Welch, 2009, p. 41). Overall, the circular flow reflects how households and businesses become both buyers and sellers simultaneously throughout the cycle.
Business organizations, however, cannot make serious decisions based on the flow of economic activity alone. Simply determining household expenditure does not help management understand how to allocate resources, what products and services to offer, and how to facilitate production and distribution of these products and services. Through implementation of marketing strategies business organizations can make important decisions about product development and resource allocation. Businesses can make marketing decisions based on economic conditions. The realization that “some parts of their market have a higher income elasticity demand than others” will prompt the organization to redirect its marketing efforts at this particular segment (Bagad, 2008, p. 2-15).
Therefore, basic concepts in marketplace economics in this case merge with marketing strategies to characterize target market segments. Businesses cannot analyze households without specifying the type and characteristics of households as market segments. This process can be carried out through the practice of market segmentation. Through market segmentation businesses can divide the market into smaller segments that share similar characteristics, qualities, and interests. They can later select which segments they will purchase or subscribe to business offerings. Furthermore, market segmentation allows the organization to “concentrate resources in the most efficient way… and fully satisfy all the potential customers in the market” (Blythe, et al., 2005, p. 138).
Studying marketplace economics helps professionals understand the movement (inflow and outflow ) of business capital and consumer wealth. Moreover, marketplace economics helps determine what kind of products consumers purchase, what products or services are demanded in the market, what products or services consumers do not need, how pricing affects the demand for specific products and services, how the demand for a particular product or service affects supply and vice versa. If to take a closer look, there is an impersonal relationship between businesses and consumers within the context of marketplace economics. However, it is possible to bridge the gap between them through marketing practices. This is because it allows organizations to understand consumers on a deeper level. On the basic level, market segmentation helps businesses identify demographic characteristics of consumers. However, marketing practices also involve an understanding of behavioral factors reflected through psychographic characteristics of a market segment (Weinstein, 2004). If marketplace economics answers “what” and “how much” questions of household spending, marketing research, on the other hand, answers “who” and “why” questions related to consumer spending patterns and purchasing decisions.
Outcomes of marketing research are also valuable because they help organizations make important decisions in business management. Results of market segmentation, for instance, help “improve sales and profits because it allows the organization to target specific market segments” and “effectively allocate scarce marketing resources aimed at those market segments” (Reid & Bojanic, 2009, p. 128). Marketing mix illustrates how businesses make decisions in conjunction with characteristics and behavior of its target market segments. Marketing mix refers to “the blend of product offering, pricing, promotional methods, and distribution system that brings a specific group of consumers superior value” (Gitman & McDaniel, 2008, p. 295). Design of the marketing mix relies on results of market segment analysis.
After determining demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics of a target market segment, businesses design marketing mix in accordance to those characteristics. For instance, pricing strategy of a business may be influenced by the demand for products or services but socio-economic characteristics of the market segment will also influence how those products or services will be priced. Distribution strategy will also be influenced by the behavior of target market segments and types of distribution channels that are accessible to them. Promotion strategies, which involve advertising strategies, will depend on interests of the market segment. If the market segment watches news on television every night, then businesses will chose to air advertisements during these shows. Overall, characteristics of target market segments, buyer behavior, and consumer decision-making are critical in marketing practices.
Businesses, however, cannot implement planned marketing strategies without adequate amount of resources. Marketing practices will also require application of concepts in business finance. In making decisions related to marketing businesses should consider different classifications of cost: variable versus fixed costs, programmed versus standby costs, and direct versus indirect costs (Capon & Hulbert, 2007, p. A2). Resources or materials used in the organization determine variable costs, while taxes, salaries, debt payments, insurance, and marketing research initiatives are part of fixed cost. Since expenses used in marketing practices are considered as fixed cost and not adjustable or flexible, businesses should consider the amount allocated for marketing initiatives before making any plans and decisions.
Furthermore, businesses cannot simply produce advertising materials without considering the cost of production. According to Wrenn (2004), financial assessment is a requirement before any business can organize its marketing efforts. Organization’s marketing orientation, which involves understanding characteristics and behaviors of consumers, has financial implications that should be taken into consideration during the phases of planning, implementing, and connecting with consumers. In this process implementing marketing practices should be included in financial analysis of revenues, costs, cash flow, and return on investment (ROI). Moreover, pricing strategies will also be affected by the cost of production. The price of a product or service will be set so that it covers certain percentage of overall marketing cost. Business financial analysis should in its turn reflect organization’s marketing expenses so that the management could evaluate whether it needs to increase or decrease allocated funding or adjust marketing practices to avoid overspending and incurring large debts. Overall, implementing marketing plans and making marketing decisions will depend on organization’s monetary capabilities, which can be determined with a help of financial analysis.
Three courses individually encompass different ideas and concepts. The preceding discussion illustrates only few examples of how marketing strategies, business finances, and marketplace economics relate to one another to guide leadership and management practices. In general, marketing, finance, and economics are correlated because different concepts underlying each course help answer various questions that arise during practical application and implementation of these concepts. These courses should not be taken separately because understanding the value of each will require an understanding of entire business discipline through synthesis of diverse concepts. Marketplace economics provides business organizations with a view of the market environment, while marketing practices help businesses make sense of market trends and apply such trends in pricing, distribution, and promotional strategies. Financial analysis, on the other hand, helps businesses make sound decisions when investing resources in marketing practices.
Christian Worldview and its Application to Real World Business Experience
In the realm of business it is easy for people to be engrossed in planning and implementing activities to make money and watch their respective organizations succeed. Temptations in the industry are numerous and some business organizations fall into the trap of dishonesty and fraud just so they could achieve their goals. They do so even at the expense of other people – usually consumers. Staying faithful to the Lord and observing Christian worldview will help centered and motivated individuals in the business to always observe moral conduct and integrity. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
Most organizations view their mission, goals, and objectives as the center or foundation of their business. Some employ deceitful strategies to compete in the cutthroat industry without acknowledging risks involved not only to consumers and stakeholders, but also to their own reputation and financial standing in the long run. Throughout the years, the fall and decline of various business organizations have been witnessed. Many organizations were involved in corporate scandals for various reasons such as financial or accounting fraud, bribery, violations of safety and quality control regulations, and more recently, mortgage crises. A closer look at their business situations help to see that their inability to maintain integrity and accountability were the primary reasons why they failed. Proverbs 20:17 says, “Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.”
Therefore, God’s righteousness must be central for the organization. His teachings are principles, which provide moral guidance to people. Consequently, they shape practices and strategies so that organizations could nurture favorable and positive environment, which not only helps to earn income but also helps consumers and stakeholders in the process. A business that puts honesty and modesty as a priority will be rewarded in the long run because they will be reflected on practices and outcomes of the business. Conducting business in accordance with Christian worldview will cultivate a working environment that will motivate employees. The latter in their turn will work productively and efficiently making up a powerful workforce. Moreover, honest business practices will help the organization build good partnerships with other business organizations. This in turn will lead to fruitful project collaborations. Sincere and truthful marketing practices will also be favorable for consumers and will help increase consumer loyalty and increase market share for the organization. Psalm 2:20-21 says: “So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it…”