Many businesses have no clue if their marketing is bringing in any new customers or generating enough sales to justify the expense. Most don’t have a way to measure the effects and generally have a hit-or-miss approach. There seems to be little rhyme or reason and no overall plan for marketing. So what should a small businessperson do?
Well, before you spend another dime on a brochure, flyer, billboard or newspaper ad you need to just stop and take a careful look at what’s going on in seven (7) key areas of your business:
1. Customers- who are you selling to? What are they really buying and why do they buy?
2. Products- What’s your value proposition or why in the world would anyone spend money on what you’re selling?
3. Pricing – What’s your pricing strategy? (Uh…yeah you should have a strategy for each of your targets and it shouldn’t be to make the most you can on everybody).
4. Place – How are your customer’s going to get your product? In the old days you needed to have a store to sell your wares. That cost a lot of money. Today, you could be selling to customers in Dubai and never leave Cleveland, or wherever you live, because of the Internet. Your distribution is part of your marketing (Betcha didn’t know that!!!!)
5. Promotion – This is what most people think marketing is all about. But if you don’t pay attention to the other Ps of marketing (there are 4), then you’ll end up with marketing that doesn’t do anything for your bottom line.
6. Competition – Think holistically when it comes to your competition. Don’t think about just the other folks selling the same things you do. Consider everything your customer could be doing with their money and come up with a darn good reason for them to give it to you (uh…that’s what your value proposition is all about, see how this all comes together?). Your value proposition is that compelling reason for a customer to select you and your product over all the other things they could do with their money, including the alternative of keeping it in their pocket and doing nothing. Sometimes customers doing nothing is your toughest competition.
7. Branding -What do people think of when they think of your product? That’s what your brand is all about. For example when I think of Volvo, safety comes to mind, Wal-Mart, low prices. Nordstrom, great service. These companies didn’t get this way by accident, but by consistently delivering on their brand promise over a long period of time. (Did you notice I didn’t say anything about advertising or logos or any of that stuff when talking brand?)
So all you have to do is get your arms around these seven areas. The best way to do this systematically is to create a marketing plan that addresses each of these areas and then be totally committed to working that plan and implementing it. You must be flexible because things are constantly changing in the marketplace and your plan should to.