Sometimes we’ve got to go back to basics when it comes to making drastic improvements in our personal and professional lives. While a number of the principles we’re going to talk about today might seem basic, as Neil Patel explains, “in marketing, if you break the fundamentals – no matter how much effort you put in – you will not succeed.”
If anything, they appear to be so basic that organisations often overlook the importance of taking a step back to study them, and reaping the benefits when you’ve updated your marketing plan. So, let’s jump right into it.
Long-time business author, Brain Tracy writes that you need to question whether or not your current product or service is appropriate, suitable or attractive to the market, and your customers today. “Is there any product or service you’re offering today that, knowing what you now know, you would not bring out again today? Compared to your competitors, is your product or service superior in some significant way to anything else available?” Tracy writes.
You need to ensure that you’re telling an audience exactly what it is about your product that they should be interested in – your unique selling point, or a point of difference over the competition in terms of the friendliness of service, expedited delivery times, the quality of your products, as well as the functions and potential warranties you can market. In the development of your products or services, ensure someone is taking note as to why people enjoy your product or service, so you can market your products alongside a reason why it has the potential to change their lives.
You can spend all the money you want on an elaborate, wide-sprawling and technologically advanced marketing campaign, but if you’re not bringing a competitive offering to market, you’ve done little but waste people’s time and the organisation’s money.
Being the cheapest offering won’t guarantee you customers, but it does help. Having said that, however, don’t get stuck in the trap of having the cheapest offering in the market if it’s eating away at your margins. As Brian Tracy writes, it’s important to “develop the habit of continually examining and reexamining the prices of the products and services you sell to make sure they’re still appropriate to the realities of the current market.”
Corporate Finance notes that “when determining a pricing strategy, it is important to consider the business’s position in the current marketplace. For example, if the business is advertised as a high-quality provider of mechanical equipment, the product pricing should reflect that.”
At times, this examination might lead you to lowering prices, and other times you might see the need to raise your prices; a recent example of this in practice was the early phases of the pandemic, when supply shortages led to short-term inflated prices on certain raw materials. Tracy says that managers should “be open to the possibility that your current pricing structure is not ideal for the current market. Be open to the need to revise your prices, if necessary, to remain competitive, to survive and thrive in a fast-changing marketplace.”
Now, in terms of new behaviour that marketing and leadership teams should be taking more seriously, there’s one thing that needs to be considered on a 24/7 basis: non-stop promotion. This is where you’re telling all your prospective customers what it is that your organisation does, how your product and/or service will change their lives, and the organisation’s reasons for doing so.
This is a process that involves huge amounts of trial and error, as well as experimenting with new things, so don’t be afraid to try something new in terms of your messaging, or emphasis in your marketing activities – as well as where you’re marketing – in the hope you can grab the attention of a new audience.
The latter point is of great value, originating from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why, which shows how organisations can grow a long-lasting bond with customers when they explain why they’re interested in solving that problem, or improving that certain service delivery.
Think about where exactly it is that your product or service is positioned in the market, and where it’s sold. It’s important to remind yourself that there are always new potential customers out there, but the onus of responsibility is on the organisation to find the customer- not the other way around.
Depending on your size and operations, you could use a third party distributor, operate a retail store, or keep things in-house with your own ecommerce store. Regardless of how you do it, you should ensure that you make things as convenient and streamlined as possible for your customers, and that you’re proactive about finding them, rather than the other way around.
This isn’t one of the traditional Ps of marketing, but it’s an interesting one to include that Brian Tracy has made several mentions of. It involves being critical toward your own product or service, and practicing empathy toward your customers. Have a look at your packaging through the hyper-critical lens of a potential customer; what do they want to see in your product? A first impression can last a lifetime, so make sure you’re not complacent when it comes to any packaging or branding that goes out in your organisation’s name. You want to ensure that your staff members know that you take this seriously, and that they represent not just the organisation, but the underlying values that you’re marketing to your customers.
On the back of packaging, it’s essential to reflect on how your customers and the general public sees your organisation, and how you’re position “in the hearts and minds of your customers,” as Brian Tracy puts it. Think about how people talk about your organisation, whether they’re referring you for certain reasons, or if you’ve had negative feedback on one area within your organisation. Ponder your position in the market, and the specific words and values that are associated with your organisation. You should then form a habit of checking how you could improve your standing in the market, or in the opinion of your customers, and use this as a jumping-off point for future marketing strategies and core operations; what needs to be changed to ensure you’re making the right decisions for the “customers of tomorrow” as Brian Tracy puts it.
Finally, you need to address one of the most important pieces of the puzzle: people. You can have the best conceptual idea in the world, and a knack for marketing, but if you don’t have the right people around you to make it happen- you’re fighting a losing battle. Jim Collins puts this into the metaphor of a bus, and writes in Good to Great that great companies have “got the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off the bus.”
Brian Tracy adds to this by stating that “to be successful in business, you must develop the habit of thinking in terms of exactly who is going to carry out each tak and responsibility. In many cases, it’s not possible to move forward until you can attract and put the right person into the right position. Many of the best business plans ever developed sit on shelves today because the people who created them could not find the key people who could execute those plans.”
While some leaders find it a difficult thing to concede, the reality is that great ideas only materialise to the fullest extent when there’s a team of A-players making it happen, so ensure you and your team is proactive about your recruiting and training process to get a high level of performance from your marketing strategies.
As always, thanks for your time, and I’ll see you in the next piece.
Kobi Simmat, Director & CEO of the Best Practice Group.