What do we really mean when we use the term "marketing?"
Is it advertising? Is it
sales? Is it pricing? Is it distribution?
Is it packaging? Is it
Is it the products? Every business
person has a different definition of marketing.
The correct answer is
YES to all the above! However,
let me offer you a simple definition of sales and marketing.
Marketing is the art of
letting people know you exist.
Sales is the face-to-face
selling of your products or services.
Over the years I have
coined a phrase that I often use when describing the difference between sales
and marketing. I think it adequately describes the differences between the
"Marketing is putting butts
(customers) in the seats."
"Sales is the art of turning
the persons occupying those seats into customers."
Marketing can be further
defined as the total system of all business activities designed to satisfy the
customer's wants and needs at a profit. Once a business has an understanding of
their potential customer, the effective use of market planning increases the
Marketing also refers to the ongoing positioning of your company. A strong
market position means power, which in turn means profitability. From products
and services to communication between your company and customers, your market
Before you think of
opening the doors make sure you have a plan to develop your distribution network
(get your customers) and a properly defined market for the business.
The most successful companies are those that understand these facts, and are
developing new, or revamping their existing, marketing plans to emphasize three
Marketing is a dialog
between the customer and the suppliers.
Companies have to prove
they are listing to their customers by action on their input.
Companies have to create
value in everything they do.
At its most basic level, a
marketing plan defines a business's niche, summarizes its objectives, and
presents its strategies for attaining and monitoring those goals. It's a road
map for getting from point A to point B.
But road maps need constant
updating to reflect the addition of new routes. Likewise, in a decade in which
technology, international relations, and the competitive landscape are
constantly changing, the concept of a static marketing plan has to be
Two of the hottest
buzz words for the 21st Century are "interactive" and "integrated." A successful
marketing plan has to be both.
"Interactive" means your marketing
plan should be a conversation between your business and your customers. It
is your chance to tell customers about your business and to list and act to
"Integrated" means the message in
your marketing is consistently reinforced by every department within your
company. Marketing can then be said to be as much a function of the finance and
manufacturing division as it is the advertising and public relations
also means each time a company reaches out to its customers through an
advertisement, direct mailing, or promotion, it is sending the same message and
encouraging customers to learn more about the product.
The interaction between a
company and its customers is a relationship. Relationships can be reproduced by
knowing what made the first relationship work and using that as a model. Poor
relationships can be repaired, that is where the "interactive", and a good
marketing plan, comes into play.
Think of your business as a
suitor, your customers as the object of your affection, and your competitors as
rivals. A marketing plan is your strategy for wooing customers. It's based on
listening and reacting to what they say.
priorities are constantly changing, a marketing plan should change with them.
For years, conventional wisdom was 'prepare a five year marketing plan and
review it every year.' But change happens a lot faster than it did 20 or even 10
Once a business has an
understanding of his potential customer, using market planning increases the
chances for success.
Writing a marketing plan
can be confusing and discouraging the first time. Many people, once they invest
their time developing the plan, continue their frustration because it sits on
the shelf gathering dust. Writing an effective marketing plan is a process,
predictable and repeatable. It begins with fact finding and ends with
Developing a marketing plan
requires considerable insight and information about one's business.
A marketing plan should be
developed using a few basic steps.
By putting the plan on paper you can visualize, communicate, review and
adjust it. Writing it out will
increase your commitment level.
Define your business properly from the marketing
Theaters don't sell movies
-- they are in the entertainment business.
The airlines are in the business of selling seats. Know what you
are selling and market it so that your customers know your products.
Be realistic, yet
challenging. Make sure you have a
method of measurement.
a situation analysis.
Analyze where you are now and where you want to be.
Look at the environmental forces such as technology, social and
What can't be controlled?
Analyze the competition. Look at the market share.
Analyze your strengths and weaknesses. Be honest with yourself.
Analyze location -- if this is a factor. In retail business the three
keys to success are:
Location, location, location.
Establish a marketing budget.
The rule is to spend money
to produce results and accomplish your objectives. Everyone will be after your marketing dollar.
Learn to say "no" quickly, and spend money on promotions only if they
Keep your ego out of this decision.
and select your market.
You cannot be all things to
all people. Find out the characteristics of your market segment and learn
how to communicate with them successfully.
Choose a segment that you can serve.
Develop a Marketing Strategy.
You must establish
priorities. How can you best spend
your budget allocation? What methods worked in the past?
What media are the competitors using?
Write down a game plan with contingency plans. Analyze the strategy carefully before you continue.
expert advice and counsel.
Develop your Media Strategy around:
Your promotion purpose or mission
Past performance of this source
long-term business goals
Ability to reach desired customers
Advertising must be
repetitive to be effective. Once or
twice is not enough with any promotion.
You can't blow up a bridge with a firecracker. You might make a little noise; but, you won't get the job
Small business has the
advantage of being more flexible than big business. The small business can quickly adjust to local market
conditions. You must be consistent;
but, your plan should not be so etched in stone you can't adapt to a changing
creative, unique. Develop a
distinct image and reputation.
Examine all media alternatives carefully.
Don't spend large sums of money on newspaper or radio without
testing the market.
TV is expensive and involves creative production.
Low-cost ads that involve discounting or couponing can be
traced for effectiveness.
Handle each customer like they were the most important
Convey that attitude to your employees, by example.
Build a reputation for excellence and concern.
Word of mouth is the most valuable, effective form of promotion.
Consider direct mail. This method can target a select audience and deliver a direct
message. Make sure you have an
for no-cost methods.
particularly in small towns, are interested in printing stories about a new
They like to write about a business with a new idea or a fresh look.
Provide releases to newspapers.
Join groups and
These contacts will provide excellent referrals and recommend you.
Be active in your
community. People do business
with individuals that they know and who are visible. YOU ARE YOUR BUSINESS!
a theme and stay with it. Don't
confuse your customer. Develop a
logo and name identification. Keep
it simple, consistent with your business theme.
You MOST DEFINITELY will want to develop a brochure or marketing piece.
Timing of your strategy execution is critically important.
Analyze and constructively
improve your marketing methods.
The market never stabilizes for long as competition always will threaten
Deliver to the customer's
satisfaction; but, do it at a profit.
Concentrate your marketing behavior on non-price variables.
That is not to say that price is not the problem.
Simply understand the market.
It is tough to have a quality image and also the lowest price.
Learn how to
feature/benefit your product. That
will create enough value to support your price.
Remember the key phrase -- If it is of no value it is of no worth!
Finally, don't "reinvent
the wheel." If certain marketing
works -- then stick with it.
Don't be so creative that
your customers are confused.
Convert customer feedback into knowledge.
YOU MUST DO THINGS
This document is full of
information — however, only you, our business client can convert this into
And in today's downward spiraling market you must look at new ways to
When your competitors have
the same products, operate in the same markets, calling on the same customers —
you need to unleash your organization's creativity.
However, there are consequences for unleashing
creativity. The old established order will be challenged and "that is the way we
always do it" will go out the window.
But, in return you can expect dramatic business
results — the kind of results that are necessary, not optional, if your
organization is determined to meet your goals and objectives and to be a leader.
Creative thinking is a
whole brain process, not limited to a select few, but open to all. Solving
problems and making strategic, big picture decisions require that individuals
have the information of past successes and experiences. But information is
static and does little to cause change.
Required today is
knowledge to identify options and technological tools and, through creativity,
link them to the issues, trends and challenges facing businesses, teams and
individuals. Every single employee can become a creative thinker, can use the
immense power of the human mind, and can act as an innovative entrepreneur
providing a competitive edge for any organization.
In a poor market it is tough to
spend dollars that are precious on advertising and marketing. However,
this is the time when you need to communicate with your existing and potential
customers. You are looked upon by your customers as the expert! Your
distribution network looks to you to help them in these tough times. They
want you to come up with ideas and programs to help them to generate sales.
If in this tough market you are
playing the turtle and pulling your head into your shell — you risk losing even
more. You open your distribution base for recruitment by another more
Put together a program that will
allow you to get maximum return on your marketing dollars. At the same
time make sure your sales team know how to sell in a down market. This is
the time to identify your order takers from the professional sales person. You
need people on your team who know how to make things happen.
Please contact us if you are
looking for sales and marketing help.
William S. Bobbitt
The Bobbitt Group