A ‘marketing makeover’ could take your business to the next level
When you are running a business,
time constraints often mean the task of reviewing the overall direction of the
enterprise is placed on the ‘back burner’. It takes a concerted effort to
step back from day-to-day issues, to make the time periodically, to work on
your business instead of in it”.
One consequence of losing touch
with changing market conditions is that growth opportunities can ‘slip
through the radar’. With imports continuing to place unrelenting pressure on
local manufacturers, the need to extract every advantage as a local supplier
has never been more critical.
It is almost impossible to run a
business effectively ‘in your head’ or ‘on the run’. Most of us would
not attempt a major undertaking of any kind without first having a plan in
place. Yet the majority of small to medium enterprises operate without a
strong sense of direction of any description.
If this sounds familiar, your
business could almost certainly benefit from a ‘marketing makeover’ in
which the development of a structured marketing plan will give you the
framework to evaluate those aspects of your sales and marketing activities in which
improvements may be available.
Without a plan, we are merely
busily handling random activity. With one, we are adopting a systematic
approach to re-examining our products and services, our customers and
prospects and to developing effective strategies that achieve realistic goals.
A marketing plan gives us the
building blocks to determine the best course of action for our company to
pursue and make better use of finite resources.
Time limitations aside, the
thought of putting a plan together can be a daunting prospect. Without
guidance and a structure in place it can be difficult to know where to start
and how to go about it.
One way to overcome this
constraint is to outsource the services of a marketing specialist to guide you
through all or part of the process.
the plan among the key people in your organisation is a good way to kick-start
the development of the plan. The time spent in critically examining ‘where the business is at’ and
thinking through potentially more profitable options is arguably the most
important part of the process.
Involving the management team gathers the broadest cross section of ideas and experience while gaining
everyone’s commitment to working toward the same purpose.
After workshopping the basis of
the plan, putting the pieces together need not be a complicated process. It
simply entails assembling a concise summary of the dynamics of the market in
which you are competing, your position within it, a statement of your defined
goals and the strategies and the resources you will put in place to achieve
Is the market in which you compete
growing or shrinking? Is the competition gaining or losing? Are you aiming
your products at the right targets and at the right prices? Are your sales and
distribution resources efficiently deployed? Are your products relevant and
competitive in today’s market? Are you fully utilising the skills that set
you apart? These and other issues
should be addressed in the plan.
The completed plan will help you
better understand the prevailing dynamics in the marketplace and give you a
practical reference to guide you in your daily operations. Once in place, most
people are surprised at the extent to which a reference framework simplifies
the everyday decision making process.
Don’t be deterred with the
thought that ‘you can’t afford marketing’.
A sharper marketing focus can produce improved results without spending
a dollar more. It is often more a matter of doing things more cleverly –
more strategically. Working smarter will always take you further
than working harder. Even minor changes in emphasis can produce vastly
Some firms shy away from
‘marketing’ due to only a vague understanding as to what marketing
actually is and what it can achieve. The term is widely misunderstood and has
different meanings to different people.
Individual elements of marketing
are often confused with the concept as a whole. Marketing is not
‘advertising’, ‘promotion’, ‘merchandising’, ‘publicity’ or
any one of the many other individual functions marketing embraces. These are
merely parts of the total process that may or may not be appropriate to
be integrated in a fully orchestrated program.
Marketing is coordinating all of the component parts together in such a
way that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Marketing is the total process in which goods and
services are sold in the marketplace. It is the determination of needs and wants and
the satisfaction of these with a profitable outcome.
Typically marketing oriented businesses are customer
- not production driven. It is a mindset that
flows through the corporate culture from the ‘boss’ down. Not only in the
sales department but throughout the entire organisation
It is not about what the factory can
produce but what the customer wants. This differentiates marketing driven
companies from those that are production orientated.
Maintaining a customer focus
is the essence of marketing. It is an attitude – a commitment to delivering
value to customers and the development of a sustainable competitive advantage.
The customer is pivotal to the entire process.
Customer value may be created in
many different ways. A better product, more options in colours and fabrics, a
more appealing design, lower prices, higher quality, wider availability,
improved service and shorter lead times are all part of the ‘marketing
mix’ that need to be considered.
The creation of a competitive
advantage, or unique selling benefit, stems from a thorough
understanding of customers, competitors, technology and your own
organisation’s capabilities, which can only come from a systematic and
You can never know too much about
your customers at both the retail and end-user levels. You need to be
constantly in touch with what your customers and prospects want and how their
needs can best be fulfilled. Even marginal improvements to the extent to which
you meet consumer needs and wants can make a measurable impact on your bottom
Giving your company a ‘marketing makeover’ could be just what is needed to sharpen your focus to take your business to the next, more sustainable level.