If you are going to be action-oriented, you can get bogged down in theoretical marketing concepts. Instead, you need to look at marketing in a straightforward way that’s easy to understanding. The most profitable way to look at marketing is to consider it as just six steps:
- Discovering where the money is.
- Becoming better than everyone else
- Finding enough customers
- Motivating customers to take action
- Communicating on a general basis
- Making the sale
You can use these six steps to address virtually every marketing problem. They give you dozens of ways to improve business and increase productivity. They offer you an easy-to-follow format for developing an effective marketing strategy and plan.
- Discovering Where The Money Is
There are always profits to be made when you find underserved customers and provide them with products that they want or need.
- Becoming Better Than Everyone Else
You don’t have to be better at everything or in every market – you just have to be better in one aspect of your business and in one market. If yours is a small business, that market doesn’t even have to be large for you to succeed. The secret of being better is to have a sustainable advantage. For example, Toyota had a quality advantage over General Motors and Ford in the 1970s and 1980s. It took the American companies more than ten years to match Toyota’s quality, and that delay gave Toyota a sustainable edge that it was able to turn into a significant market share.
Pick out the market leaders or fast-rising firms in any market, and you’ll always find they have one or more strong competitive edges. The edge might be quality, status, innovative image, a combination of product features, a unique sales strategy, or in-depth technical support.
- Finding Enough Customers
Big companies that sell to broad markets don’t usually have to worry about finding customers. Their only problem is getting their products in enough locations so that customers can find them. But a small company serving a niche market may have trouble finding potential customers in a cost-effective manner. You’ll find businesses in every town that have the same problem. An upscale jewellery store may generate a certain number of customers from walk-by mail traffic, but it still may need to find another group of customers to survive. A new restaurant may be able to attract diners from one-kilometre radius, but it may need customers from a five kilometres radius to survive.
The second part of finding customers is that customers have to be able to find you. This means that you need to have your product in a good distribution channel. Dangote Cement and sugar, Coke, Pepsi and other consumer giants all fight for self-space to be sure customers can find their products. By the same token, a great housewares product isn’t going anywhere until a store or catalogue stocks it.
- Motivating Customers
You have the right product, right market, and several features that make you better than the competition, At the first glance, you may think you’ll have an easy time selling your product, but that’s not the case. Customers are bombarded with thousands of messages. There are hundreds of products that they could buy. You still need to find one or two things you can do to that will actually motivate customers to take action.
Every type of business has motivation problems. How does your car repair company convince people to trust their cars to it? How does a manufacturer convince another company to place its equipment in a new production line? Or how does a day-care centre or pre-school motivate people to entrust their children to it? All these products need emotional and logical motivation. People have to feel that a business will “do right” by them.
- Communicating On Regular Basis
Once you know how to motivate your target customers, you have to communicate with them often enough to get them to take action. For some smaller purchases, this might take one or two contacts; for larger purchases, you may need to contact customers ten or more times.
Most people think that communicating means advertising. But that’s not true. You have dozens of other ways to get your message across to customers. Most effective communication programs employ a mix of different tactics. Small-to-medium companies can’t afford a big advertising budget. They have to use other tactics, such as store signs, sales calls, newsletters, free speeches and seminars, classes at local colleges, membership in trade associations, direct mailings, personal letters, phone calls, and a host of others to communicate their message. Finding, motivating, and communicating with customers are three distinct tasks, but all of them have to be done if you are to succeed.
The last step is to communicate with customers. You may wonder why this step is needed. The reason is that in most cases, people start to look around for possible products or services well before they actually need them. A new author may check out publicity angles six or twelve months before his or her book is actually published. It can do this with newsletters, seminars, speeches, and direct mailings.
- Making The Sale
The first five steps are all designed to get customers predisposed to buy your product or service. All that work is worthless if you can’t make the final sale. Knowing how to trigger that final sales decision is a critical marketing tactic. Every business has a few final details it needs to deliver in order to get the sale. But there is more than that involved in getting the final sale. People are typically apprehensive just before they make a purchase. A salesperson is usually needed to get the customer to make the final decision to buy. Knowing how to handle that person-to-person contact can make the difference between success and failure.