Marketing ‘is what you do after you have a good product’. So none of what follows will make any difference if you do not offer a quality product or service. Are you investing enough in ongoing research and development to keep up with and exceed customer expectations?
So a reminder as to the 5 P’s of marketing :
- Product. This is the most important principle. Are the product features valued by your target customer base? If you find that a lot of effort is going into pushing products, this can be a signal to review your offering. The greatest products will be demand lead – customers will be chasing you not the other way around.
- Place. This is concerned with the distribution channels you use. Choose the most effective channels only. You can’t be everywhere. If a particular channel or location does not deliver an adequate profit margin don’t go there, unless it is a key part of a wider strategy. At end of the day you are in business to make money, and can’t afford unprofitable channels even if favoured by customers. These days it would be unusual not to have some kind of online presence and you need to decide how critical this will be as a distribution channel both now and into the future.
- Price. Discussions on price are a key input to the overall business strategy. Are you going to price to achieve volume (probably low margin ) or target the quality end of the market (high margin)? Too much time can be spent on pricing strategy. You won’t really know the optimal price point until you experiment. Set up some tests, and see what happens. If there is no price resistance a higher price might be achievable.
- Promotion. Like pricing it is difficult to see what will work, until you experiment with different advertising language and approaches. Beware of endorsing ‘creative’ approaches, without testing. Just because one of the team comes up with a clever and innovative strap line doesn’t mean that it will be the most effective. A more direct and ‘boring’ message might actually sell more product. Let experiential learning drive your approach.
- People. Marketing should not exist solely as a specialist silo. Everybody in the company regardless of their function should be mindful of the impact of what they do on the ability of the company to sell its offering. For example, it is possible to miss the market by having too much due diligence by different internal functions prior to a new launch, such that you miss the market. Sometimes a unique opportunity will arise, which requires a quick decision, all the more likely in the online world.
Personal relationships are key – nothing has changed here, especially if you are selling to other businesses (B2B). Trust is key in B2B and the absence of trust is a key reason that many online B2B market places failed during the dot com bubble some years ago. Yes, price is important but long term relationships won’t evolve unless your customers are sure about quality, service levels, and your ability and willingness to work with them as ‘partners’ in resolving their particular challenges.