…is Essential for Sales Success
Let’s begin where it should – at the start.
For some strange reason there is much confusion about the simple things in business. I won’t go too far into this, but I think there is also a simple reason for this.
There are way too many people “flogging” buzz words
Buzz words like “digital marketing strategy” are way too specific for most companies (most companies are actually SME’s ie. below 200 staff – making up 99% of all businesses in Australia). Most companies don’t even have a marketing plan let alone a documented business plan.
People have missed the basics and are worried about the new shiny things! Get back to basics people!… and you’ll start to see improvement and be able to fit things like digital marketing in the right place at the right time for added growth.
Most companies need to worry about digital marketing, because it plays a huge part in our connected world – however most companies would be better served actually having a business plan with a brief marketing plan within that as a start. Then focus on how to tie everything together in a solid marketing mix – instead of diving into digital marketing as a first port of call.
Why a marketing mix instead of a marketing plan?
You would not be alone asking this question as marketing mix is not necessarily a common phrase or wording. However once you understand what a marketing mix is, you’ll understand why it is essential to think marketing mix instead of marketing plan. You could potentially have a solid marketing plan, but under the framework of a marketing mix you will get alignment throughout the business instead of just focussing on what the marketing department/ function is doing.
Therefore you can see that a marketing mix is more holistic and cohesive because it involves the whole business, which is what all businesses need to grow in a scalable manner – what all of our efforts focus on in our business of helping companies improve and scale.
What is Marketing?
The way you reach your target market and allow them to become aware of your value proposition and the unique solution you offer to their main problem.
What is a Marketing Mix?
You may not have heard this expression as it is not necessarily common. A marketing mix is more frequently heard in the context of the development of a go-to-market strategy or development of a branding and positioning project. In essence it is the combination of all factors that can be controlled by a company to influence consumers to purchase its products. It can be referred to as the 7p’s of marketing as well.
Time, money and not understanding where to start are the real killers of successful marketing, for most business owners.
The ‘customer buying journey’ must also be infused into all aspects of the marketing mix/ 7p’s of marketing. All research and development must focus on how the customer perceives their problem and how your solution actually fits into the way they perceive their problem being solved.
7p’s of Marketing
Here is a list of things to consider while planning your marketing mix. Simplicity and diversification are the keys to your high level and specific 7p’s marketing strategy… it’s not a contradiction.
Start simple, with a very pointy focus. Then work your way into a more complex setup by diversifying your products and services (while keeping your focus), tools and methods so that you don’t miss any channels to market or potential customers in your niche. This will all help you make the most of your interactions, for better results.
Marketing Mix – Product
The product or service that you provide is in essence why you have a business, and provides part of the reason or purpose of your business. The mix of products and services must be aligned well, as does the whole of your organisation – around the central message of your competitive advantages of your products, services and delivery of them.
In developing the right product, you have to answer the following questions:
- What does the client want from the service or product?
- How will the customer use it?
- Where will the client use it?
- What features must the product have to meet the client’s needs?
- Are there any necessary features that you missed out?
- Are you creating features that are not needed by the client?
- What’s the name of the product?
- Does it have a catchy name?
- What are the sizes or colors available?
- How is the product different from the products of your competitors?
- What does the product look like?
This lineup needs to also be kept in an innovative state, certified by current standards and ahead of the competition as far as the perceived value proposition for the potential customers. The product will not be the thing that ends your business if it passes all of the above, but is a major cause of failure for multiple reasons if not given the proper attention on the way through your business’s life cycle.
Marketing Mix – Promotion
Part of the process is diversifying your promotional methods. The most successful companies have a diversified method of promotion, keenly tuned into where the people who might use their product find information about that product or service. This could also be seen as the marketing mix!
Outbound and Inbound are the two methods of promotion. I won’t go into depth with these methods as that will take up a complete article and your day. In todays modern world of sales with statistics on buyers habits, likes and dislikes shows us that inbound is the way that works for sustaining and growing your customer base.
Email marketing is one of the things that a majority of companies neglect to harness as it is a little bit of work to get setup correctly to make use of a database if it is not maintained in the right way. Results using email marketing correctly are absolutely staggering! 760% growth has been achieved with this method alone according to one of the suppliers of an auto responder tool. Hence I have written this paragraph just about email marketing to make sure you take note of it’s importance.
Personally I believe that there is still some room for outbound, but needs to have a lot of prior research and extremely well targeted research done prior to the development of a strategy to use any outbound for it to be effective and not hurt your future prospects of dealing with the people you reach out to with outbound marketing efforts.
As the internet is such a powerful and prolific method of research, the majority of companies on planet earth should be having a good deal of their promotion aimed and executed well on it. As there are so many platforms these days, really well thought out research must be done to make sure the marketing efforts are targeted well for great results.
Digital Marketing is just one of multiple strategies (with multiple tools in the D.M. discipline) to help you reach your target market. And it is a great way for a lot of companies to acquire leads and develop customers, however this is something that needs to be established for every business separately.
Is digital marketing the best way to reach my customers?
Finding an adviser who can help develop a great strategy and help identify the right tools and methods to employ in order to give you the biggest bang for your marketing buck is a better and more beneficial long term plan. Achieving great results through all of your marketing efforts should be the aim… not just limited to digital marketing.
In creating an effective promotional strategy, you need to answer the following questions:
- How can you send marketing messages to your potential buyers?
- When is the best time to promote your product?
- Will you reach your potential audience and buyers through television ads?
- Is it best to use the social media in promoting the product?
- What is the promotion strategy of your competitors?
Every business should use all marketing tools and methods simultaneously, for maximum impact. Most people think of the various tools of marketing as the marketing mix… however it is only part of the mix to be considered in a well structured marketing department.
Marketing Mix – Price
How you portrait the price of your products and services through your value proposition, is a large part of the business’s future profitability and positioning in the market. Establishing a good understanding of the competitive landscape, will allow you to correctly position your brand in the market. It will also clearly identify a price bracket and that your customer base expects and are willing to pay for the value that you provide.
Consequently, prices too high will make the costs outweigh the benefits in customers eyes, and they will therefore value their money over your product. Be sure to examine competitors pricing and price accordingly.
There are three major pricing strategies, and these are:
- Market penetration pricing
- Market skimming pricing
- Neutral pricing
Here are some of the important questions that you should ask yourself when you are setting the product or service price:
- How much did it cost you to produce the product?
- What is the customers’ perceived product value?
- Do you think that the slight price decrease could significantly increase your market share?
- Can the current price of the product keep up with the price of the product’s competitors?
(4 & 5)
Marketing Mix – Places & Physical Environment
Where can and how do the potential customers experience your product or service, in what environment? These were not intended to be placed together, however the environment is so pertinent to the strategy you employ, to organise and develop the places in which you market your products and services. The values and the customer experience you want to embody, must have well controlled environments – to be able to have a focussed impact, in your brand positioning efforts.
This comes with a deep understanding of your target market. Understand them inside out and you will discover the most efficient positioning and distribution channels that directly speak with your market.
There are many distribution strategies, including:
- Intensive distribution
- Exclusive distribution
- Selective distribution
Here are some of the questions that you should answer in developing your distribution strategy:
- Where do your clients look for your service or product?
- What kind of stores do potential clients go to? Do they shop in a mall, in a regular brick and mortar store, in the supermarket, or online?
- How do you access the different distribution channels?
- How is your distribution strategy different from your competitors?
- Do you need a strong sales force?
- Do you need to attend trade fairs?
- Do you need to sell in an online store?
Why is this critical?
Your value will be tested and measured in these locations and environments, as the potential customers get to experience a taste of what they will eventually experience as users. Will there be good support for their chosen product or service? User experience needs to be well thought through not only after the customer has purchased but before they purchase as well.
Marketing Mix – People
Staff can be your biggest assets. A business needs to use their assets wisely, however most businesses do not have the perfect assets to fix every problem.
Mentors, coaches, consultants and also contractors are very useful for different reasons to accelerate and improve a business from time to time. Specialty services like market analyses, accounting, HR specialists, and many others are like digital marketing. They are extremely beneficial as a part of systemisation and automation.
Marketing is a science and realistically it’s own profession which most people do not possess, and also which far too many people think they can do successfully without serious training. I believe this is a big part of why people have a mis-trust of marketing and some of the tools which we use in marketing… because they have had a bad experience.
My suggestion would be to do some research first, then do a competitive analysis and testing before you make your mind up about two things.
A. Jumping in and doing all the marketing yourself and:
B. Picking the marketing that you will do to promote your business and generate leads and opportunities for your business.
We call this test and measure… and it need not stop at marketing either!
Marketing Mix – Process
The way in which you execute the marketing strategy
A) Why (purpose)
B) How & Where
C) Framework and measurement
D) Analysis and Reaction
Basically all the systems and processes of the organisation that affect the execution of the service. Therefore you have to make sure that you have a well-tailored process in place to minimise costs.
It could be your sales flywheel and process, payment system, distribution system and other systematic procedures and steps to ensure a working business is running effectively toward the same goals.
Consistent branding across communications is also part of the process and has mostly been covered in the above points. However a Brand Positioning strategy will cover the entire marketing mix as part of the journey. Online reputation is probably the thing that has not been attentioned above. This is covered in the “impact of online reputation” below… so I’ll leave it there, on this point..
For small to medium businesses the biggest barrier is being scared of wasting the limited resources that they have; followed very closely by a lack of time to research, think and plan for the best outcome.
While these are valid fears, they will help you to miss penetrating to the objectives of getting the most out of your marketing – which will actually save you money.
Everyone must start, or they will lose market share and decrease in revenue and most likely profit.
Here are a short list of questions that will help to get the most out of your market budget:
- Which types of promotion will give me the best Return on Investment for short and long term results?
- When looking for help with marketing – What experience has the vendor had that might cross over to helping my business?
- How should we start, and what does the journey to success look like from your perspective ie. what’s the plan?
The main objective of marketing is to start or enhance a relationship with your potential customers.
I love this quote from my great, great uncle Henry Ford
Great marketing results, are the start of great sales results… it’s that simple.
To have clarity in your sales pipeline, there needs to be a transparent and robust marketing system and a good sales process. Development of new opportunities and also re-marketing to existing customers are extremely important components to start achieving great sales results. With the right marketing mix and sales framework, you get all of the above.
A great marketing mix will ensure that your plan, process, strategy and structure are well thought out and therefore aligned for a start. Putting in a good Plan, Do, Check and Act cycle will make sure that you are Testing and measuring – to be assured that you are on the right track and getting great results.
Putting it all together well – will ensure your team is not only efficient and effective, they are also able to be kept on track and see where they are headed. Keeping your team healthy and happy should be one of the considerations.
We are in business to partner with people to properly diagnose the root cause of the roadblock to their business growth.
Our aim is to lead businesses into growth, through the growth cycle and out into continuously growth outcomes.
Wrapping it all together
Following these points above as an initial guide will start to get you and your business further down the path of getting better results from your sales and marketing functions. Clarity and consistency in your sales pipeline is likely to be a major benefit to your business management team as well.
The goal is not simply to bring potential customers to the table, but for you to be able to provide better and cutting edge solutions for your present and future customers through understanding what they want and need.
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About the Author
Matthew Benn is the founding partner of Alongside Business Consulting. He has been a senior Marketing and Sales leader for over 12 years, as well as being a small business owner for more than 9 years.
He really enjoys the challenges and successes that come with developing people and growing businesses, hence has taken these passions and put Alongside Business Consulting on the map.
Our aim is to curb the frustrations business owners have, with sales and marketing; therefore helping them take control of their destinies to build their businesses successfully… Business Growth Simplified.