Why is my business losing? Unfortunately, this question is often asked too late.
This scenario plays out all the time. You’re a business owner that has been successful for years. You have a great product or service and things go well. Your sales staff is hitting their numbers, operations seem good and your cash flow is solid. Then, inevitably, things taper off. You figure it’s due to market fluctuations and that things will pick back up. Problem is, they don’t. In fact, they get worse. The culprit of this situation is often a lack of marketing.
The fact is, a lot of organizations don’t really know the difference between marketing and sales. And by the time they make the move to invest in marketing, their competition has already beat them to the punch. If this sounds like you, read on.
Marketing is not a logo or a sell sheet or a business card. Marketing is the comprehensive business function of getting what you have to offer to the correct market of people who want to buy. It consists of four areas:
- Product (or service) – This is your offering
- Price – What you charge
- Place – Where you sell
- Promotion – How you communicate value to the marketplace
Each of these areas is a discipline unto itself. They may sound straightforward but you would be mistaken.
Product (or service)
What you offer the market must suit its needs. When WalMart opened its first multinational store in Mexico, it didn’t fully take into consideration the product needs of that market. Consequently, the snow shovels they had on the shelves didn’t move very quickly.
What you charge is a reflection of value. There are several factors from a consumer’s point of view that go into this such as brand, available substitutes, and difficulty to switch to an alternative. For example, when was the last time you got so mad at your bank that you switched checking accounts? It’s not likely because of all the work it would take to move each bill pay account to a new bank.
This is how you choose to sell your goods and services. If you have a sales force, you have made the marketing decision that this is a channel you want to reach your customers with. Similarly, if you sell directly online, your e-commerce website is a channel you chose to reach your customers with. The point here is to recognize how you receive revenue is (or should be) an intentional marketing decision.
This is the combination of messages that attract people to your business and its offerings. The tools available here continue to evolve rapidly. Direct marketing that uses a digital backbone is extremely effective in capturing interest, nurturing leads, creating new customers, and creating fans that will rave on your behalf. But it is not a panacea. If the rest of your marketing strategy isn’t in alignment, you’re in trouble.
This framework is one of many that help companies begin to develop marketing strategy to improve the top line. This is not meant to be all encompassing. There are several other frameworks and tools to utilize when building your marketing strategy. However knowing one of these tools helps to illuminate the big picture and the importance of developing each piece to strategically support each other when combined.