It’s all very well to know we need to ‘do marketing’, but when we talk about marketing what exactly are we talking about and how do we know if we are getting it right?
While it is true that marketing plays an important role in the success of most businesses and products it is important that we understand what marketing is and where it fits into the overall business plan. At many large and successful companies the chief marketing officer plays a critical role as adviser and business guide to the CEO. This is not always the case in smaller and faster growing companies, often leaving the marketing department (or budget) as the poor relation or afterthought.
What is marketing?
At PenQuin we believe that marketing is way more than advertising, way more than a logo, way more than showing off your product at an exhibition and way more than “being on Facebook”. While all of these are important elements of the marketing mix, how they are put together to meet the business need is the ultimate key to success.
Marketing, properly done, involves and touches every part of the business to help solve the ultimate business problem – making more money by selling more of what you make at a higher profit per unit.
Marketing therefore needs to interact with all business areas, the most important being:
- Product development – marketing must ensure that the products that are being developed meet a genuine market need and are priced appropriately to ensure their success
- Supply chain and logistics – marketing, through research and market analysis assist the business to get the products to where the demand is. They answer the question of “how will we take our product to market – will we implement a channel to sell on our behalf, will we sell direct to customers via the internet etc?”
- Sales – the sales team rely on marketing to ensure that the unique selling points of the product are well explained, that there is sufficient consumer awareness of the product (the brand is strong) and that the product meets the consumer’s needs.
Marketing departments, (or in smaller businesses where it is often the CEO who is in charge of marketing) must develop a marketing strategy that considers the following:
- Research to fully understand who the customer is and what their needs are – this research needs to be ongoing in order to fully address the fast changing market
- Analysis of the current product and service offerings to ensure they meet the customer expectations – identify the Unique Selling Points (USPs)
- Development of a communication strategy that considers (but does not necessarily incorporate) all possible communication methods. TV advertising is not right for everyone in the same way that a Facebook fan page may not be right for everyone. For many companies direct communication to their targeted customer base will deliver far greater success than an advertising campaign ever will.
- Integration – Implement the communication strategy ensuring that all impacted parts of the business are integrated into the plan. This is critical to ensure the following mistakes are avoided:
- Production not ready to meet increased demand generated by successful marketing (we have all responded to adverts to find the company is out of stock)
- Customer service or sales staff are not aware of the promotion (again a common area of frustration for many consumers)
- Conflicting communication is still in the market e.g. a new product or special offer is launched inconsistently across outlets or sales channels
- Develop methods to measure the success of the strategy and to allow for adjustments to be made as required
Well thought through, implemented and measured campaigns will ensure that marketing budgets deliver the returns expected. The most important part is defining what you expect the results to be. All too often we hear people saying that marketing is a dark art that is unmeasurable, this is not true. Set clear objectives and measure them to ensure you achieved a return on investment.
Effective marketing is not guess work!