Achieve sales success through exceptional business marketing!
What is marketing? According to the American Marketing Assn: “Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational goals.”
I’ve spent my entire career working in business marketing, and it truly amazes how few organizations actually understand how critically important marketing is to the achievement of their goals.
Marketing is the collective set of activities that an organization utilizes to establish and maintain its brand, while supporting the sales process. In a nutshell, marketing supports the sales effort in making your cash register go: “Cha-chinge!”
Historically, when we talked of the elements of a marketing “mix” of activities, we called it the “5-Ps” based on the following:
Product: What are the products and services that you offer.
Placement: How do you get your products in front of your customers.
Pricing: This one is pretty self-explanatory. Considerations on developing a well thought out pricing plan involve developing a commercial pricing strategy that offers pricing based on the size of the organization you sell to? What about special (discounted) pricing options for academic institutions, non-profits, Government agencies? Do you offer tiered (discounted) pricing options for people who buy bundles/packages of your products and do you offer staged discounts based on purchasing more frequently or more products per average order? Does your pricing has built into it a return on your investment (reflects your profit margins?) Customers have greater control than ever to dictate the terms of the pricing you charge.
Promotions: What special campaigns do you offer your products and services for discounted pricing? Typically there is a seasonality to promotions tied to special times of years,
but you can offer promotions to spike sales during your down sales times, or to move your excess inventory. An example would be car dealerships that offer end of year sales to get rid of that year’s excess stock in their dealership.
Packaging: for physical goods, the packaging is a critical component of the overall product esp. when it comes to aesthetic considerations. Have you ever seen a Tiffanys’ box?
Some people suggest that the marketing mix reflects your PEOPLE. This would take you to 6Ps, but if you consider packaging as part of your product, then we’re back to 5Ps. With the commercialization of the internet in the 1990s, two additional elements become staples of effective business marketing. interactivity and individualization! Consider these the 2-Is that supplement your 5-P marketing mix. These MUST be considered fundamental aspects of a successful marketing programs.
Interactivity: Nowadays it’s critically important that organizations interact with their customers (esp. their BEST customers) on an ongoing basis.
The communication flow between you and your customers must be successful in THREE directions as follows:
1) From your organization to its customers;
2) From your customers to your organization; and
3) Between your customers (with you monitoring those conversations VERY closely.)
It is important to remember that it’s your customers who will determine how much interaction you have with them.
There has been a fundamental shift in marketing from a one way conversation where the organization used a broadcast, ONE WAY dialog to bombard their customers with marketing messages using TV, radio, and newspapers to an interactive marketing dynamic using the internet which fosters debate, exchange and CONVERSATION!
Individualization: With today’s software and file sharing tools, you must be able to send out marketing messages to as many people as possible at once, yet customize the message to each individual. This is referred to as “mass customization” so you gain economies of scale by communicating with as many prospects, clients, suppliers, vendors, the media, etc.as possible,
all the while making people feel as though you are speaking directly to them. The customer decides how they want to customize their experiences with your organization.
What is “internet marketing?”
“Internet marketing is the process of building and maintaining customer relationships through online activities to facilitate the change of ideas, products, and services that satisfy the goals of both parties.”
With the proliferation of social media, organizations now have significantly more tools in their business marketing arsenal.
It’s critically important that you understand social media is NOT “selling.” This is a major issue with the businesses I coach. Social media is a tool to be used to build your brand while you build “RELATIONSHIPS” with your customers. The organizations that truly “get” social media use it creatively to share information, provide resources, educate, entertain, and inform their audiences.
If you accomplish this, they MAY buy from you. If you use it only to try to sell to them, they’ll turn on you then away from you. The internet and social media allow organizations to connect with wide segments of the consuming public on individual levels. So much so that older, more traditional marketing vehicles (print, radio, TV advertising) are getting left behind.
for example, crowd sourcing websites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are allowing people who invest in your start-up to become your customers when you first launch your new business. These online investor communities allow your investors to be your first customers and offer you suggestions on ways to improve your products and services as you launch your business.
Therefore, many entrepreneurs who launch a new business more than likely will have a customer base, making traditional marketing expenditures an unnecessary investment for generating new customers. You build and maintain lasting customer relationships through the following FOUR STAGE cycle:
1) Awareness: Before your customers purchase from you, they have to know you exist;
2) Exploration / Expansion: Before they feel comfortable buying from you they are going to want to try your stuff, thus free trials are important to get to the next stage;
3) Commitment: Once they know you and feel comfortable with what you have to offer, only then will they buy from you; and
4) Dissolution: At some point the relationship will end, either by your doing or your customer’s.
The goal here is to determine through your marketing which customers are your most profitable (and loyal) and target programs to them to keep them engaged, happy, and buying from you (as well as making those always important referrals.) To create successful marketing programs you should follow this “Seven step” plan:
1) Frame/identify the market opportunity;
2) Create the marketing strategy;
3) Design the customer experience;
4) Create the customer interface;
5) Design the marketing program;
6) Get customer information using technology; and
7) Evaluate program results.
What is a “Market?”
A market is the set of all actual and potential buyers who have sufficient interest in, income for, and access to your products/services.
What it means to segment a market.
Market segmentation divides your market into distinct groups of homogenous consumers who all have similar needs and consumer behavior, and thus require similar marketing mixes.
Many organizations fund their marketing at ridiculously low levels. They allocate perhaps 1-2% of their annual sales to marketing. However, world-class marketing organizations (Nike, Apple, Google, Starbucks) allocate significantly more, between 5-10% of their annual revenues to marketing. Why is it so important to fund your marketing at this level? In today’s global marketplace, the one true lasting competitive advantage many organizations have is their brand.
People buy BRANDS, NOT products! Research shows we humans make purchase decisions on subconscious levels, then justify/validate our decisions with product features, functionality. Marketing enables your business to build those strong emotional relationships with your core customers, the 20% who purchase 80% of your stuff.
Definitions of branding abound. I prefer the powerfully simple and elegant explanation that branding is the act of making a “PROMISE.” you promise that what you offer will be truly unique, memorable, and invaluable.
Why brands are so important to consumers.
By building strong brands you will connect with your customers, because brands are critical to them. Following are key benefits from brands that customers gain:
* Reduces the cost associated with searching for products internally (how much to think about them) and externally (how much to look for them)
* Define product/service qualities
* Present product/service characteristics
* Chance to “connect” with product maker
* Sign of “perceived” quality…PRESTIGE
* Help consumers organize their knowledge about a product to clarify their decision-making and thus adds value to firms.
If you’re not delivering on these levels, then you’re nothing more than a “ME TOO” player who only competes on price. when you can only differentiate as the low price leader, you will fail. Today’s global 24x7x365 markets are unforgiving to those who REFUSE to adapt. Marketing is the tip of the spear in continuously offering a truly compelling USP (unique selling proposition.)
In today’s marketing world, it is more important than ever to create online communities for your customers.
Small business owners therefore MUST learn how to become online community managers.
Great Resources For Your 2013 Marketing Plan.
* eMarketing Assn.
* International Internet Marketing Assn.
* “The Worldwide Rave” book by David Meerman Scott
* John Battelle’s Search Blog
* Frederick Newell’s book on Customer Relationship Management in the Internet Era
* Awesome video on the future of the Internet (Web 3.0)
Here is to a great, successful, achievement-filled 2013!
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach
Achieve sales success through exceptional business marketing!