Wikipedia says Marketing is a social and managerial function that attempts to create, expand and maintain a collection of customers.
Most organizations tend to have a marketing function, alongside finance, production, distribution and HR (human resource). There is no doubt that without marketing, most businesses would have collapsed. In a wide experience, marketing, is more of a philosophy and management style, and must not be confused with selling.
At one level, marketing is a very simple stuff which it’s complex at another level. However, people take different degrees in the subject of marketing. For others, it is a black art directly linked to TV commercials and subliminal selling.
There are many books on Marketing. People who have created and implemented marketing plans and learned from their mistakes have written some of the best books. Many are written for multinational organizations with large budgets. For SMEs, remember you must keep marketing as simple as possible.
So, why are many small and medium organizations still have ‘marketing challenges’?
believe me, marketing is not easy but can be made simple. Even if you’ve read every business success story out there, because every company is different, there’s simply no guarantee that your chosen sales methods will be effective. To some extent, you’re probably already aware of how your company is doing; you know how many clients you’re pulling in, how big of a profit you’re making, and so on. But if you’re not tracking every marketing channel, it’s impossible to get a feel for how each individual approach is faring as you move from step to step. If a step suggests it, you should not be afraid of changing your plans or indeed scrapping the idea altogether.
Three big Secret you should always remember.
- Customers are more important than prospects (prospects are those who you consider to buy your products). If you have satisfied customers, they will buy again and recommend you to others.
- Benefits come before features. Customers and prospects are more interested in what you can do for them, than how you do it.
- Offering a continuous low price does not work. Customers look for added value. Most times, distrust comes when there are ‘low price for every’ products or services. This often times does not encourage the customers to shop around; they will think your services are not of good qualities?
FIVE MARKETING SUCCESSES SECRET
Don’t spend serious money and time unless you have followed these steps. Each step becomes progressively more expensive.
Step One. On one side of A4, clearly define your product or services, quantify your immediate objectives, describe your target customers, as you see it describe the benefits to them and why they should choose you above competitors. Check with people not directly involved with the project. Does it make sense? Would they buy it? Seek objective criticism. Make changes and re-check. If it is a commercial project, when does it start to make a profit?
Step Two. Gather as much information as possible about your customers, the market and your competitors. Start in your files, read customer complaints and customer endorsements, interview any staff with a direct connection with customers, discreetly speak to your customers by running a customer survey program, ask trade bodies for information, search the internet, visit business libraries, become a prospect for a competitor, if low-cost buy competitors product or service, acquire specialist market research, if you have the time attend trade shows, exhibitions, networking events and seminars. Use the information to answer any ‘unknowns’ and to beef up the elements in Step One. Change the project as required. Does it still make sense to your test panel? If it is a commercial project, when does it start to make a profit?
Step Three. When you have formulated an idea for the project, speak to your customers or prospects to gain a reaction. If you have more than one idea or several versions of an idea you need to talk to more people. If you are looking for a winner, you probably need to gather quantitative data using a self-completion questionnaire. Make it easy to fill in e.g. tick boxes. Offer an incentive to participate. Gather demographic data and apply standard deviation to measure significance. Remember market research exercises do not produce creativity. All the creativity must come from you or your agencies.
The other thing to realize is most of your competitors will not be researching – which gives you a massive competitive advantage.
Step Four. It is likely that the product or service proposition will change as a result of the information gathered in Step 3. Go back to the one side of A4 from Step One and see if changes need to be made to the basic business plan. Now list all the opportunities you have. This is the creative part. Try brainstorming – it can work or be a complete waste of time – but it is cheap and fun to do. Look at all the market opportunities open to you. Cost the options. If it is a commercial project, when does it start to make a profit? You may decide to have different projects/services for several markets.
Step Five. Produce a marketing plan for the next twelve months in some detail. While two and three years are needed for cash flow. Producing a five years plan is generally a waste of time – unless it is a large capital project with a long gestation period. Produce the product/service and test it with the new target groups or even go back to the original market research respondents. Test the advertising and promotional materials – especially if direct marketing is the main strategy.