Marketing makes your kite stand out from the crowd !
Marketing is fundamentally about the strategy of exciting interest in your product, service or company. Sales, is better thought of as thetactics you employ to achieve actual orders. It follows that without a clear strategy in place, gaining good margin sales will be increasingly difficult, time consuming and unnecessarily costly.
This article and the one following will look at Marketing; off-line this week and on-line next week. An examination of sales techniques will follow. A word of caution; please do not be too swayed by press articles announcing the death of conventional techniques like the Harvard Business Review (August 2012),”traditional marketing – i.e. advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications – has failed”.
Whilst it is un-deniable that the internet and social media have surpassed anything the conventional marketeers laid claim to, it is also far more important to make marketing judgements based on your specific market niche, your customer profile and your product category etc. rather than blindly following market trends..
For most businesses a mix of on and off-line marketing strategies will support achievable and profitable growth. The off-line structure for marketing has successfully matured along the 1948 principles of the 7 ‘P’s; and if you carefully select the right combination of marketing across product, price, promotion, place, people, process and physical evidence, your marketing strategy is more likely to be a success.
Put simply, at best, marketing is about;
- Broadcasting the features and benefits of your business it’s products and services to the widest potential market for those services. It is a general relationship; one to many.
- It tells the story behind the formation of your business or the development of your product.
- Marketing seeks to establish your brand value or unique product value to a wide audience.
- It repeats the stories about your business in order to retain it’s value to the future purchaser or existing user, of your business’s products, it’s services and it’s ethos.
- Marketing looks for; and tries to anticipate; trends in the core markets your business trades in.
- Marketing is targeted, on-going promotion of all the positive features and benefits attached to your business.
- Marketing is ambiguous and aspirational. It does not have to satisfy any specific demand that is the role of sales.
Sales is about;
- Individual relationships with the specific goal of achieving a commitment to purchase or use your company, product or service. It is a specific relationship, one to one.
- Sales leverages the features and benefits of your business for the commercial benefit of seller and purchaser.
- Whether as a market trader or B2B service provider it is built on relationships between seller and purchaser.
- Sales has a nurturing role, as ‘prospective’ purchasers are invited to appreciate the benefits of owning your product or using your service and paying for this entitlement.
- It is specific in function, with a pre-determined outcome ie: a purchase.
- Sales is the function of turning ambiguity and aspiration into a specific action by the ‘prospect’.
- The role of sales is to take the features of your products and services and extrapolate the benefits of these features to meet the specific needs of the prospective customer.
- Selling establishes the value to the user of your company, product and service and the cost of that transferred ownership.
There is still a role for direct printed mail delivered to householders and businesses. In fact latest figures from the 2014 retail industry survey reveal;
- Australia’s leading retailers spend between 55-65% of their entire marketing budget on letterbox advertising.
- 54 per cent of recipients were more likely to shop with a retailer as a direct result of receiving letterbox advertising.
- 88 per cent of people aged 14+ who have received letterbox advertising in the last 7-days have read or looked into it.
- 74 per cent of letterbox advertising recipients are the primary shopper in the household.
Developing your marketing strategy, rests on identifying your overarching business goals (Strategic Aims see Part 1 Building a Business Plan), so that you can then define a set of marketing goals to support them. Your business goals might include: increasing awareness of your products and services. Building awareness of the uniqueness of your brand or establishing your business’s role in a specific industry.
Effective marketing starts with a considered, well-informed marketing strategy that is constructed from the results of your market research. A good marketing strategy helps you define your vision, mission and business goals, and outlines the steps you need to take to achieve these goals. Your marketing strategy will identify the most appropriate medium that reach and influence your potential or existing customers. It is a common mistake to try and impose a marketing messageor a format of communication on a prospective audience.
Good, effective marketing relies of a thorough understanding of your business’s position in the market; understanding how your products and services will actually be used and the specific medium most influential on your potential prospects.
Whilst marketing can be used to educate and influence an audience, it must not be confused with propaganda. The message must always be truthful as well as appropriate. Un-truthful content will always catch up with businesses witness this week’s share collapse of Volkswagen over the emissions scandal.
Your marketing strategy reflects and affects the way you run your entire business, so it should be planned and developed in consultation with, and reference to, all your market research. It is a wide-reaching and comprehensive strategic planning tool that you should use appropriately to:
- describe your business and its products and services
- explain the position and role of your products and services in the market
- profile your customers and your competition
- identify the marketing tactics you will use
- allow you to build a marketing plan and measure its effectiveness.
Your marketing strategy sets the overall direction and goals for your marketing, and is therefore different from a marketing plan, which outlines the specific actions you will take to implement your marketing strategy. The marketing plan should have specific dates by which you intend to achieve identified goals.
When setting goals it’s critical to be as targeted as possible so you can effectively measure the outcomes against what you set out to achieve. A simple criteria for goal-setting is the SMART method:
- Specific – state clearly what you want to achieve
- Measurable – set tangible goals so you can measure your results
- Achievable – identify objectives that are within your capacity and budget
- Relevant – set objectives that will help you improve particular aspects of your business
- Time-bound – establish goals you can achieve within the time you need them.
It is best practice to use your market research to develop a profile of the customers that you are targeting and to identify those needs that your business can satisfy.
The profile will reveal customer buying patterns, including how they buy, where they buy and what they buy. Your marketing strategy will need to be reviewed annually if not more frequently to reflect on new opportunities and identify aspects that are now irrelevant with your marketing message because the market or technology has changed. Your marketing plan will also need to be adjusted regularly to reflect these market changes.
Similarly as part of your marketing strategy you should develop a profile of your competitors by identifying their products, supply chains, pricing and marketing tactics.
Use this to identify your competitive advantage; what sets your business apart from your competitors. This will also enable you to focus and identify the strengths and weaknesses of your own internal processes and proposals; to help improve your performance compared with your competition.
I like to think of marketing as a pot of soup on the stove; it requires constant attention, regular stirring to maintain it’s appropriate consistency and mix of ingredients. Don’t be afraid to change your marketing plan where it does not show that it is achieving the goals you have set.
Listen and observe your chosen market at all times and avoid assuming the market will continue the pattern it has followed previously. ALL markets change and even the biggest companies get caught out where they take their eye of actual demand as opposed toperceived demand, witness the problems in the Australian mining sector this week.
This extract is taken from my weekly blog on how to research and construct a meaningful Business Plan. All the information is FREEand will be FREE to download from the end of September 2015.
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Thank you for reading this blog and please feel free to add any comments to the discussion.