These middle-level environmental factors, which impinge on marketing management, comprise factors which unlike the lowest level intra-company components lie outside the normal boundaries of the organization. Unlike the top level, macro-environmental factors, which we shortly examine, the organization has some measure of control over its micro-environment. The more important elements of the micro- or task-environment include: competitors, distributors, suppliers, customers and external marketing services, e.g. market research companies and advertising agencies, and the organization’s publics. Micro-environmental factors are self-explanatory, although their significance to strategy formulation is such that many of them, including competitor, customer and distributor analysis, are considered in more detail later. The micro-environmental factor ‘publics’ is any group that has an impact on a company’s ability to achieve its objectives.
As would be expected from such a broad definition, a company’s public(s) are diverse and include groups such as the local community, the general public, shareholders, the financial community in general and governments.
The key points for the marketing strategist are to acknowledge the importance of such publics to the process of planning and ensure that relationships with significant publics are effectively managed. Traditionally these relationships have been the concern and responsibility of the public relations function in companies, but many now think that this is too narrow a view and that everyone in a company can contribute to effective relationships with an organization’s publics. An example of the importance of a company’s publics in developing strategic marketing plans is the increased influence and power that company shareholders now have. At one time the interest of shareholders was restricted mainly to the level of financial return and profits which they received from their investment. Increasingly, shareholders are taking a greater interest in how companies are managed, including their marketing strategies.