Marketing is typically ignored with Business Owners suffering from analysis paralysis. Marketing doesn’t need to be that difficult, I’ve outlined some simple but effective steps below to help business owners understand the fundamentals of marketing and implement it within the strategic plan for the business.
So what are the simple steps to marketing?
1. Market Research
2. Identify your customer and what they want
3. Tailoring you product/services to meet the needs of your customer
4. Positioning your product/service to reach your target market
5. Create your value proposition (brand)
Many people jump straight to step #6 which unfortunately results in wasted time, money and resources marketing to the wrong people with the wrong message and the wrong product or service. I’ll go through each step in a little more detail.
1. Get an overview of the economy. Are people buying what you’re offering? Ten years ago people weren’t hiring video or business consultants anywhere nearly as much as they are now – look up localworldstats.com.
2. Competitor analysis. You need to know what your competitors are up to so that you can position yourself and little bit different or package/price your products a little bit different. You’ll need to know information such as business name, qualifications (check LinkedIn), products and services offered, mode of delivery, website, who their clients are and which industries they are serving.
3. Price and sustainable competitive advantage (SCA) of competitors. What are they charging? What offers to they provide? What is their SCA? How can you do things differently?
4. News and Trends. Find out what’s hot and what’s not? How can you utilise new technology? Do you have RSS feeds that you check which keep you up to date?
5. Promotional strategies. What are your competitors doing? What are they offering in the way of promotion? Check out their policies on free consultation, social media, testimonials and freebies.
6. SWOT analysis. Work with a coach on an intelligent SWOT analysis, create an action plan on how you can work with your strengths to maximise your opportunities etc. You will need to know what your competitors are doing to know where your opportunities lie.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX. Playing safe is risky.
Identify your customer and your ideal customer.
In order to be successful you will need to know your customer, find out information such as:
1. What size of organisation would you prefer to deal with?
2. Typically, how many people will they employ?
3. What market sector(s) do these organisations operate within?
4. Who specifically will be buying your products/services and what are their titles?
5. Where geographically would you like these organisations to be located?
6. What does your organisation offer that is unique? Find out from your customers.
7. What types of organisations will be attracted by this uniqueness?
8. What do your best customers possess that you would like to replicate in others?
9. Which of your existing customers were the easiest and quickest to convert?
10. What similarities do these customers possess?
Knowing this information will tell you where your customers hang out, on and off line and which language/marketing materials to use. There is no point marketing to 60-year-old CEOs via Hootsuite and talking about split testing!
Product strategy – What do they want?
1. Survey, survey, survey. I personally give clients ‘what do you expect’ survey’s pre-consultation, another feedback form during our agreement (a few months in) and then I’ll ask for feedback and a testimonial. Find out what they expect, what qualities that you have, what you could do better, what you’re doing really well, what other products / services they’d like you to provide.
2. Segment your customers into different test groups, find out what they want, what they need. Find out the emotional desires as well as the product needs e.g. more clients, more profit, more time, focus, less stress, removal from overwhelm, accountability.
3. Qualitative research, have one on one conversations with your customers. Provide what they want, not what you want to give.
Taylor your product
What is your pricing strategy? What is the objective for your pricing? Do you want revenue, profit or business growth? Have you tested different prices on different customer segmentation? I typically test a price for a month or 2 on and offline and then I’ll keep increasing it until customers are saying no!
This is a combination of both your product and pricing strategies, how can you make it different and how are you measuring the success of each? What different packages or bundles have you tried?
Position your product/service (place strategy)
How will your product get to the end user? Which places of purchase do you offer e.g. shop, website etc?
Often a smaller sale can be made directly from an ad or online but the larger sale won’t. Typically a buyer of a larger product or service will have gone through several channels before making the sale. For example, one of my strategies is to run low-cost monthly educational workshops (channel), this lets the customer get to know me and to build a relationship. I then distribute one hour free consultation vouchers (hooks) to attendees which they can then use within a given time frame. If they choose to use this voucher, I will meet with the prospective client and hopefully convert into a contract or at least an introductory product. Other positioning may be a Facebook page which offers a free report which then offers a sample which may result in a sale. How are you positioning your product?
Create your value proposition (and SCA)
First of all, have you created your business statement? This identifies in a single statement what you do, for whom and just importantly what you don’t do!!
We provide ‘products and services’ to ‘customers’ by ‘activities’
What we don’t do is: ‘xyz’
Business Reboot fast tracks the success of SME Service Providers, Sales and Marketing Teams and Marketing Executives by providing a consistent set of business tools, proven strategic methodologies and experienced coaching support needed to achieve their sales, marketing and personal development goals. What I don’t do is financial planning.
Your value proposition is created from your product/service attributes (features and benefits) plus the image that you want to portray plus the relationship that your customer can expect from doing business with you.
Create a table with four columns and in the first column list of all of your products/services, in the second your features, in the third the advantages and the fourth the benefits. To understand the difference, use the ‘so what’ test i.e. an advantage of coaching might be ‘effective marketing techniques’, you can still say so what at the end of this sentence so you haven’t reached the benefit yet which is ‘saves time and money by making intelligent decisions’.
To create your image, list the five top values that you’d like people to say when talking about your business e.g. integrity, professional, value for money. And then do the same for your relationships, what can you customer expect from your relationship e.g. speed dial, trustworthy advice etc.
Your customers buy benefits rather than products and features so use these benefits along with your company image the relationship that they can expect to create your marketing messages.
Sustainable competitive advantage
It wouldn’t be right for me to write about marketing without talking about your sustainable, competitive advantage (SCA) or sometimes known as your unique selling proposition (USP). This is what makes you different to your competitors and is a whole other article but should be identified.
In Marketing SCA is an advantage that one firm has relative to competing firms. To be really effective the advantage must be:
• Hard to copy
• Superior to the competition
• Applicable to multiple situations
Determining the SCA for any organization requires an understanding of the customer’s needs and preferences. A competitive advantage arises out of activities which provide high value to the customer and a strong ability to beat competitors. Examples of SCA include factors such as quickest turnaround time, high product quality, low-cost production techniques, patents and copyrights, government protected, extensive contracts and a good reputation.
Marketing wouldn’t be marketing unless everything was measured else how would you determine what works and what doesn’t. Measure and test everything – your SCA, your headlines, your target market, your products, your price and perhaps your patience!
There are literally hundreds of promotional activities that you can use, I have listed only a few; measure, measure, measure!
online forums and blogs
educational series – cd/webinar/video
joint venture flushing out the specifics of a new service you’re going to offer
writing a book