Tag Archives: marketing process

The marketing mix: why it is important to your business

If you treat marketing as being synonymous with advertising, promotions and other forms of communication then you are, almost certainly, missing a trick. This week I came across a great example of how, by taking this narrow view of marketing and ignoring some of the elements of the marketing mix, you can seriously damage your revenue.

I’m currently in the market for a coffee table. I’m looking for something quite specific; a square, light oak coffee table. Having searched online I have a rough idea of the price I’m happy to pay and what I can expect to get for my money. Armed with this information I visited a local, independently run, furniture show room to see how they matched up to the internet.

It all started quite well as I was left to browse for a while before being approached by the sales guy who asked if I was looking for something specific. Having explained my requirements to him he proceeded to show me a number of distinctly rectangular looking coffee tables, and tutting, he said: ‘ how come everyone wants square coffee tables when I only have rectangular ones’. Good question. Perhaps he should check his product range?

After this rather awkward moment, he told me that some of the ranges included a square coffee table, and we were back on track again! I chose a style I liked and he scurried off to get a brochure. We then discussed price and, whilst his first offer was more than I wanted to pay, I could see that he was up for a negotiation. I asked about delivery and he agreed to deliver free of charge, so that was another tick in the box.

Finally I asked when the coffee table could be delivered…and it all started to fall apart (again). ‘Before Christmas’, was the response I got. ‘Before Christmas’ I repeated, ‘Yes, before Christmas as opposed to after Christmas’ he said. A little dumbfounded I asked if he could be more specific. Apparently not. The result, a lost sale.

For your marketing to be successful you need to consider all the elements of the marketing mix. It’s less important which definition of the marketing mix you prefer (the 4Ps, 7Ps , 4Cs…the list goes on), just that you have a joined up approach to marketing that puts the customer at the centre.

Image: freedigitalphotos.net

Refreshing ideas

I’ve just bought a new marketing book which I am ridiculously excited about reading. It’s a weighty tome and has the feel of a text-book about it with plenty of diagrams & charts and an extremely practical sounding title: ‘Marketing Plans: how to prepare then, how to use them’.

Most of the marketing text I read these days concerns ‘new’ concepts – social media, inbound marketing, content marketing, engagement, and is often in bite-sized chunks. It is, of course, important to keep up to date with new ideas as marketing methods change so rapidly; and blogs & white papers are a  great way to gain a quick overview. What I’m looking forward to though, is an in-depth and thoroughly researched approach to marketing planning.  Marketing planning is, in my view, one of the most important aspects of any business. After all, what is the point of having a barrel full of ‘new’ marketing tactics without a proper marketing plan in place?

It’s been a while since I read such an academic looking book and now, with twenty something years of real-life marketing experience behind me, I expect it will take on a new light. The challenge for me will be to adapt the concepts in the book, which are broadly aimed at big businesses,  and make them relevant for small and medium businesses.

I’ll let you know how I get on!

Why customer experience is an important concept for your business

I normally leave marketing ‘buzz’ words at the door when I’m talking to owner managers and generally stick to jargon-free explanations. I have, however, recently found myself using the term ‘customer experience’ more and more. Why? Because, for me, it is the very essence of good marketing and a really useful concept for small business owners to embrace.

In simple terms customer experience is the sum of all the ways that customers come in contact with your product or service. It includes the moment when a potential customer first becomes aware of your product, through to buying it, using it and, hopefully recommending it to others. The benefit of looking at  customer experience as a whole – as opposed to looking at marketing, sales and customer service etc as separate entities – is that you are less likely to miss some vital part of the process.

Let me give you an example of where failing to look at the whole process turned a good customer experience bad in a matter of minutes. Here is how the story goes. I won a prize in a charity raffle a few weeks ago; it was a voucher for a new clothes shop in my high street. Having walked  passed the shop many times since it opened I decided to finally venture in. Once inside the shop I was impressed by the variety of items they stocked, the staff were friendly but not pushy and the prices represented good value. So far my customer experience was all positive. I tried a couple of things on and decided so buy one of them. I handed over my credit card and the voucher…and then the crunch came. The staff member looked suspiciously at the voucher and didn’t hide the fact she was unsure what to do with it; she called another staff member and they loudly discussed the fact that they hadn’t  seen such a voucher before. Another staff member soon joined them. Now faced with three staff members looking bemused, a queue forming behind me and feeling distinctly embarrassed, my instinct was to flee the shop never to return. Luckily common sense took over and I finally managed to make the purchase. I won’t be rushing back though and I certainly wouldn’t buy a gift voucher there!

It seems such a basic mistake to make – not communicating a promotional offer to front line staff – and unforgivable for a small company where lines of communication are short. It could have easily been avoided by simply mapping out the process and (hopefully) spotting the flaw in the plan in advance.

Image courtesy of http://tomfishburne.com/cartoons

Why low tech, traditional marketing methods still work

I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve read that ‘traditional’ marketing techniques are dead. It would seem that if you don’t have an app, mobile website and a presence in every form of social media channel you must be doing something wrong. Last week I came across a company proving that simple, low tech marketing techniques are still very much alive.

I had arrived early for a meeting and, having a few minutes to kill, opted for a bit of window shopping. I was approached by lady carrying a tray of freshly baked cinnamon and sugar pretzels and, naturally, stopped to taste one. As I exclaimed: ‘ummm, it’s lovely’ the lady simply smiled, pointed in the direction of the outlet and handed me a sheet of discount coupons.

I didn’t give this a second thought until I emerged from my meeting feeling a little peckish. I fished out the sheet of coupons, selected the offer that was most appropriate, and duly went off to buy a pretzel.

From product sampling to buying in the space of 90 minutes – what would you give for a response like that?

Whilst this is a very specific example, the principles behind why this particular promotion worked are well worth exploring for your business:

  • Timing – when are your potential customers most receptive to trying or buying your particular product?
  • Opportunity – how can you get in front of your potential customers and give them the opportunity to trial your product?
  • Incentive – what can you do to encourage your customers to buy after they have tried your product?

If you can think through these questions, you may well be on the road to finding a simple marketing approach that will work wonders for your business.

Don’t waste your money on advertising

I saw an, almost perfect, advert in a local magazine the other day. So, almost perfect in fact, that I contacted the advertiser  immediately and almost purchased!

This is why I think the advert worked:

  • It had a great headline which promised to solve a problem for me
  • The text was backed up by simple and relevant images which told me, at a glance, what the service was
  • It had a strong call to action
  • It was perfectly targeted; the adverts was appropriate for the publication and was extremely relevant for the target readership
  • Not only was it relevant but it was also well timed.

So why did I only almost purchase off the back of a seemingly well thought through piece of marketing? You guessed it… lack of follow through.

I googled the company in question, sent them an email enquiry littered with buying signals …and then…heard nothing. A couple of days later I phoned the number in the advert and got the response ‘ what advert is that then love?’

Will I buy from this company? Unlikely. Don’t waste your money on advertsing, however good, if you can’t get the rest of the sales process right.