Marketing Strategy

Marketing Strategy

Developing and implementing a marketing strategy is a necessary process for a successful business. This process commences as you start your business, and it must remain an on-going process throughout the life of your business

Here are a few points to help you get started:

  • What is it that you are offering your customers? Know your product or service – Ensure that your staff are aware of what you are selling.
  • Know your competitors’ product or service better than they do. In what ways do their products or services compare better/worse than yours? What trading terms are they offering? Is their location better/worse than yours? What is their pricing structure? How are they adding value to their products?
  • Who are your customers? What is the demographics of your customers?
  • What is the image that you are trying to present to for your customers?
  • Is your market subject to seasonal changes?
  • What is your pricing policy? Is it consistent with your need to develop a required gross profit while meeting your customers’ expectations, do you cover your costs and something for future investments?
  • Do you know how to promote and advertise your business? Have you decided which advertising medium is suitable for you and your business?

I am presently working with many small business owners, by some of which some of the points are ignored, claimed ignorance or not even in their business sphere of operations. Many business start out with a great idea, do some market research and then run with it without as part of their business model develop a complete marketing strategy. You may make your product, and for the lucky few your customers come to you, but for the majority of us, including Id8 Consulting, we have to continually develop and monitor our business model, marketing plan and identification of who our customers are.

“Marketing is getting the right product or service in the right quantity, to the right place, at the right time and making a profit in the process”.

Marketing is about identifying and understanding your customer and meeting their needs through the use of your products, giving them what they require. Effective marketing is a result of examining every aspect of your business and how it affects the consumer’s end experience. It covers everything you’ll need to do in order to deliver your products and services to the consumer including research, planning, pricing, packaging, promotion, selling and distribution.

Write a successful marketing strategy

A well-developed marketing strategy will help you realise your business’s goals. A good marketing strategy helps you target your products and services to the people most likely to buy them.  Developing a marketing strategy that includes the components listed below will help you make the most of your marketing investment, keep your marketing focused, and measure and improve your sales results.

Identify your business goals

To develop your marketing strategy, identify your overarching business goals, so that you can then define a set of marketing goals to support them. Your business goals might include:

  • increasing awareness of your products and services
  • selling more products from a certain supplier
  • reaching a new customer segment.

State your marketing goals

Define a set of specific marketing goals based on the business goals you listed above. These goals will motivate you and your team and help you benchmark your success.

Examples of marketing goals include increased market penetration (selling more existing products to existing customers) or market development (selling existing products to new target markets). These marketing goals could be long-term and might take a few years to successfully achieve. However, they should be clear and measurable and have time frames for achievement.

Make sure your overall strategies are also practical and measurable. A good marketing strategy will not be changed every year, but revised when your strategies have been achieved or your marketing goals have been met. Also, you may need to amend your strategy if your external market changes due to a new competitor or new technology, or if your products substantially change.

The six “Ps”

The following six areas provide a comprehensive framework for developing an effective marketing plan. These areas are often referred to as the “6Ps” or the ‘marketing mix’:

Product

This covers the combination of goods and services that your business offers. It could include the following characteristics of your good or service: quality, variety, design, features, services, warranty, sizes, packaging, brand name and returns

Place

How does the consumer access your product or service?  Think about in; distribution channels, coverage, inventory, transportation, logistics and retail outlet location.

Price

What approach will you take to pricing your product? Will you offer discounts or extended payment periods? What credit terms will you set?

Promotion

How you communicate with your customers. Most businesses use a combination of advertising, personal selling, referrals, sales promotion and public relations

People

Your staff are the front face of your business. Try to understand your staff in terms of their knowledge, experience, skills, communication, teamwork and attitude

Process

The processes that you use in the day to day operation of your business. This effects your interaction with your customers. Think about the following aspects of business operation:  systems, quality control, planning, review, continuous improvement, documentation and feedback channels.

What is market research?

Market research is a key part of developing your marketing strategy. It’s about collecting information to give you an insight into your customer’s mind so that you understand what they want. You can also do market research to get a better idea of market trends and what is happening in your industry sector.

Research your market

Research is an essential part of your marketing strategy. You need to gather information about your market, such as its size, growth, social trends and demographics (population statistics such as age, gender and family type). It is important to keep an eye on your market so you are aware of any changes over time, so your strategy remains relevant and targeted. There are many online sources that can be used, the CSO is a good starting point.

Profile your potential customers

Use your market research to develop a profile of the customers you are targeting and identify their needs. The profile will reveal their buying patterns, including how they buy, where they buy and what they buy. While you try to find new customers, make sure your marketing strategy also allows you to maintain relationships with your existing customers. Current customers are a good basis for research into new customers, your most popular items should under the 80/20 rule be valid with new customers also.

Profile your competitors

Similarly, as part of your marketing strategy you should develop a profile of your competitors by identifying their products, supply chains, pricing and marketing tactics.

Use this to identify your competitive advantage – what sets your business apart from your competitors. You may also want to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your own internal processes to help improve your performance compared with your competition.

Why do I need a marketing plan?

  • A successful business operator understands
  • What they are offering the customer
  • And how it differs from their competitors.
  • What are you offering your customers?

The process of developing a marketing plan will help you understand the key benefits and features of your product or service, and how to go about attracting and retaining the right type of customer. The marketing plan is a component of your business plan.

A significant component of your marketing plan involves in depth industry analysis which will help you to segment your target market and appropriately position your business.

A good marketing plan will also provide you with clear objectives so that you can benchmark your achievements and measure the success of your marketing endeavours

Test your ideas

In deciding your tactics, do some online research, test some ideas and approaches on your customers and your staff, and review what works. You will need to choose a number of tactics in order to meet your customers’ needs, reach the customers within your target market and improve your sales results.

Once you have this completed, the loop is complete and you need to start again to address your marketing plan. As the business environment are in a continuous state of flux, you cannot say, hey that’s the plan done, lets run with it for next few years. You need to start again and understand your business model, following on to your various business strategies.

Dress / Think for the occasion

We attended an dual event for a programme on helping regional SME’s in Ireland to innovate, develop and grow their business

http://www.itcarlow.ie/enterprise/inspire/inspire-home.htm

The initial meeting was with the other tutors / consultants of the course and the organisers. As such, with a initial business meeting we dressed for the occasion, formal business – Suit & Tie.

The second meeting was with the participants on course. Most of us sat at the front of the the lecture hall, looking up at our prospective clients.This was the first information evening for the programme, most were here to gain a better understanding of the programme, work involved, outcomes and supports given by all involved. The presentations, happily I did not have to present, were all about the consultants own histories, past experiences, clients assisted, money (grants/ finance) raised by clients.

Most of the audience were dressed casual, jeans, jumpers, either straight from work, from home and perhaps unemployed. Looking at their appearance, it dawned on me, that we should dress for our audience, not a suit or tie in sight was looking down at me. My thoughts began to think, what if I was in their shoes, as I have been in the past. Looking down at a bunch of suits, what inspiration does that give to me. Yes I listened to their presentation, their clients, but would that inspire me ?

When we meet our clients we need to do some research into them.

  • Dress appropriately from the perspective of the person you are trying to impress
  • Know a lot, but don’t flaunt it.
  • Find a common business link or friend to warm up the connection.

We did not dress to match our client expectations, we bamboozled them with our stories, our language was that of consulting, not in the terms that they may be accustomed or  communicate in. Those moments of first impressions has more impact that any document you can prepare. We all know about that initial 7 second rule, by which new clients judge you, but when is professionalism or formal dress sense not appropriate to your clients.

 

Organisational Culture

We spend 40 or 50 or more hours at work each week. Many of us spend more time with those we work with than we do our families and to be content and fulfilled people, that time must be valuable for more than a dollar. . .

We want to be engaged in our work. We yearn for work that is enjoyable, meaningful and engaging because when we’re engaged we’re safer in our job, more productive and more willing and able to delight customers

Most organisation’s culture is that of sales and customer service oriented to ensure that while your staff are engaged and happy that your clients are satisfied and achieving their business goals. This is a win-win for all stakeholders.

Regardless of the focus on work, it is important for a business to think about the work environment, working relationships and “how we do things here.” By focusing on building and sustaining your business & workplace culture you are showing that your staff are your most valuable asset.

There are of course many other bottom line business reasons to focus on and build organisational culture. Here are seven of those reasons.

A strong culture is a talent-attractor. Your business culture is part of the package that prospective employees look at when assessing your business. Gone are the days of selecting the person you want from a large eager pool. The talent market is tighter and those looking for a new opportunity are more selective than ever. The best people want more than a salary and good benefits. They want an environment they can enjoy and succeed in.

A strong culture is talent-retainer. How likely are people to stay if they have other options and don’t love where they are? Your organisation’s culture is a key component of a person’s desire to stay and remain loyal to your organisation.

A strong culture engages people. People want to be engaged in their work. According to a Gallup survey at least 22 million workers are extremely negative or “actively disengaged” – this loss of productivity is estimated to be worth between $250-$300 Billion annually. Your culture can engage people. Engagement creates greater productivity, which can impact profitability.

A strong culture creates energy and momentum. Build a culture that is vibrant and allows people to be valued and express themselves and you will create a very real energy. That positive energy will permeate the organization and create a new momentum for success. Energy is contagious and will build on itself, reinforcing the culture and the attractiveness of your business and workplace not only to potential employees, but also to clients.

A strong culture changes the view of “work.” Most people have a negative connotation of the word work. Work equals drudgery, 9-5. When you create a culture that is attractive, people’s view of “going to work” will change. Would you rather see work as drudgery or a joy? Which do you think your employees would prefer? Which will lead to the best results?

A strong culture creates greater synergy. A strong culture brings people together. When people have the opportunity to (and are expected to) communicate and get to know each other better, they will find new connections. These connections will lead to new ideas and greater productivity – in other words, you will be creating synergy. Literally, 1 + 1 + right culture = more than 10.

A strong culture makes everyone more successful. Any one of the other six reasons should be reason enough to focus on your culture. But the bottom line is that an investment of time, talent and focus on your organisation culture will give you all of the above benefits.

Not only is creating a better culture a good thing to do for the human capital in the business, it makes good business sense too.

Pets

My morning can hardly be described as innovative, its a routine.

Wake, rise, bathroom, dress and then kitchen. Next stage gets me in the mood for work, our golden retreiver (dog) Finlay. Always a smile wag of the tail and a glance towards the dog leads. Pets are the embodiment of routine, they know you better than your spouse in my opinion. They like us are creatures of habit.

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My morning then goes outdoors for a dog walk. Off-lead through the fields or on down the town, I use this period to plan my day. The essential period when thoughts are unencumbered by emails, social media or ringing of telephones.

Rain, snow or fine mornings, I find these time periods critical in my day, its just me, my thoughts and Finlay.

We all need our time to be creative, focus our thoughts on our business; break our routines and challenges ourselves. Comfort zones are needed to progress through the day but we need diversity that innovation and creativity brings to our business to break the mundane of routine.

Business is the management of routine, innovation challenging there of. We need challenges to keep us sharp

 

 

How to raise my prices

I have, like most others being paying attention to the Labelling problem with the Beef / Horse Scandal in Europe since December. Two major brands made statements that their prices had not increased in 4 years, even with inflation, something has to give, it has become evident that the quality of the produce has been the deciding factor.

Returning to your business, have you increased your prices recently, or have you kept them flat and suffered a reduction product quality, gained better deals from your suppliers, adjusted your baseline figures or just been squeezed in the middle. Have you picked a sales price on the basis of market forces and demand, now collapsed with the economic climate.

There are lots of reasons to review and increase your prices on a regular interval.  Many start-ups find it difficult how to approach this topic, but in the business world it is fairly normal that prices or fees increase or change.

Sales prices, if you are up front with your clients, and give them advance warning of a price increase, negotations should be straight forward.  If they value your custom, their customers demand your product, you have a reasonable hand to conduct these negotations. Sales are relationship driven, people in business want to be able to trust their suppliers. Give them reasonable notice, so that they can make a choice.

An easy option is to gain additional clients, and leverage these for your old clients

What is your reason to raise your price?

  • You don’t need to have a reason!  But your clients might want to know.
  • Simple, because you want to earn more (but be aware that if you charge too much your profitability will actually go down!  Becoming more efficient and create more in a shorter period of time might actually have a similar effect on your longer term profitability as raising your prices)
  • Due to the current economic conditions and annual inflation everybody is increasing their prices.  Your material (for example the price of gold!) or travel costs might have increased dramatically and need to be carried over (more) to the client.  January is normally a month when companies increase their price.
  • You want to reposition yourself or work with a different target market that enables you to charge more.
  • You are busy (or not) and overbooked, but especially want to work less hours but earn the same or a higher annual salary.
  • You have increased your credibility, done more training, got more experience, have improved your brand.

How to introduce new prices?

  • Firstly, as said above, let your existing clients know in advance.
  • It is far easier to increase your prices if you provide a service than a product, as they are less comparable with each other.  In fact, if you provide a service you might not even state your prices, as you want people to contact you to discuss their specific requirements and provide a specific quote.  Unless your service is a very specific programme with specific features you will not need to provide a fixed price.
  • If you increase your prices of your product or your hourly rate then do this by a percentage, and introduce these in the first instance to new clients.  If you want to you can give a reason, but you don’t need to – be confident about it that you are worth it!
  • If you introduce new services or products it is easier to introduce them at a higher rate from the beginning.  Discount older stock so that there is less comparability, which will decrease the chances of somebody asking about your price change.
  • Be confident about your work, the value that you add to that specific client, and you will be able to charge the price that you are worth!

Craft Products, expression of heritage and culture

We are dealing with a paradox. Craft or the handmade used to be at the centre of commerce and manufacturing and it was a viable, honourable way for people to make a good living. But over the last 100 years as we have industrialised, and now digitalised production. Craft produced  have been relegated to the side lines and become an expression of heritage and culture

And so, while heritage, tradition and history is what gives it intrinsic value, this is not enough for it to compete with contemporary lifestyles. Apart from other considerations, economies of scale do not make it viable. It will need to be mainstreamed to survive – but if mainstreaming means we have to become responsive to the demands and fashion of global markets we stand to loose our heritage and tradition…

So where does this leave us? Is the future really handmade? Or are we just being evangelical and fooling ourselves?

Is craft a happy medium for us to hold on to romantic ideas of past lives that were slower, more intimate with more texture and lasting relationships – and which we think had more meaning? Or does it really have a place in the present and the future? And if so, what kind of handmade… and how?

Writing a Good Concept

Writing a Good Concept

The difference between a concept and an idea is akin to that of the difference between a grocery shopping list and a recipe.

Writing a good concept takes:

  • Investing in your time, it takes more than 5 minutes
  • Give yourself space, change your environment, get out of your office & comfort zone
  • Involve others, dont accept first attempt,

Elements needed to write a good concept

  1. Title/Concept Name
  2. Insight
  3. Benefit
  4. Reason to Believe
  5. Strapline / tagline

Do’s & Dont’s

Do:

  • Follow the five steps
  • Make sure the insight is relevant and easy-to-follow
  • Keep to one basic description / theme
  • Give an idea of the size of the product if relevant
  • Keep words to a minimum (80 words is maximum)
  • Write short, precise sentences in ‘normal’ language
  • The central message should be at the beginning of sentence
  •  Read the concept aloud

DON’T

  • Exaggerate
  • Assume consumers will understand something totally new but remember they arenʼt stupid and need to be convinced there is a real benefit
  • Patronise or be over familiar / too friendly
  • Over-do the positioning / imagery or tell consumers how they think or feel !(donʼt use ʻyouʼ)
  • Over-sell, exaggerate or be too positive
  • Over-use catch words or phrases
  • Use negative phrasing – the concept should leave you feeling positive
  • Avoid repetitions – do not over-use key words

Writing Concepts

  • Average concept has 100 words or less
  • A concept must…   Explain the idea or proposition clearly and realistically, to understand whether consumers find it appealing

• A concept should also…

  • Attract attention, be distinctive (break through competitive clutter)
  • Be memorable (be funny or riveting)
  • Be centred in consumer language and experience
  • Be founded on deepest possible insight

For early-stage concepts, test the appeal of the idea

A later stage concept is more often a proxy for advertising copy

– More sophisticated graphics and always in colour

Our Challenge

–       How to convert raw, often technical data into symbols and metaphor that connect with our consumers and persuade them that a brand that they love has come up with something that will make their lives better!

–       Writing good concepts is a skill that comes from being able to write well generally