Arguably, the most important function of any business is marketing. To many people marketing just means selling, but it is far more than that. Making a product or providing a service is relatively straightforward. The hard part is ensuring that your potential customers are aware that you exist. It is essential, therefore, to prepare a detailed marketing plan - a plan of action. You need to define your overall marketing objectives, you need to identify your target market and you need to know what 'marketing mix' you will use.
Digital marketing is the practice of promoting products and services using digital distribution channels to reach consumers in a timely, relevant, personal and cost-effective manner.
Whilst digital marketing does include many of the techniques and practices contained within the category of Internet marketing, it extends beyond this by including other channels with which to reach people that do not require the use of the Internet. As a result of this non-reliance on the Internet, the field of digital marketing includes a whole host of elements such as mobile phones, text, display / banner ads and digital outdoor.
How can you use PR to the greatest effect in your business?
Conferences and Exhibitions provide a good opportunity for businesses to engage with potential customers face to face, maintain or enhance their profile, network and generate new business leads and feedback.
Too many businesses define their market by looking at the product or service they are providing; that is, they are product-led. Whilst sometimes that can be effective, in most cases businesses need to be market-led: they should be looking at, and planning, everything from the viewpoint of the customer, identifying what needs customers are seeking to fulfil when they buy a particular product or service.
Whatever the stage of your business development, looking at the future may be helpful in defining your marketing objectives and your marketing mix.
The most common objectives are usually to achieve sales and profitability targets in year one and to increase sales and profitability levels in subsequent years. Bearing this in mind, how can you develop your product, service or customer groups to achieve this business growth?
By examining the product/market matrix below you can identify the major classes of growth opportunities:
Whether starting a business for the first time, or aiming to grow a business, all companies need to understand what makes them stand out and appeal - but viewed through customers’ eyes! This can help you develop your Unique Selling Point (USP), a statement of how your product or service differs uniquely from competitive offers.
By stating how you intend to deal with each of the 4Ps you will have begun to create a set of task objectives.
If you opted for a cost focus positioning approach you might note under ‘product’ that, amongst other things, there is a need to add a particularly important feature to your product and also reduce the cost of some aspect of the production process. You may already have some idea of how to tackle cost reduction, in which case your task objectives stemming from this point will be to:
Each business, however small, should take time to identify its marketplace, its customer types and what benefits these customers are looking for. However, you’d be surprised how few businesses feel that they have the time or resources to really research this thoroughly.
Article on how to do market research for your business, how to define your product or service, identify potential customers, determine your price and plan your marketing and communication.
The final outcome of your marketing plan very much depends on your approach to customer targeting and how you decide to position your products or services in the marketplace.
Careful planning increases the chances of successfully accomplishing what you set out to achieve. The principles of good planning can be applied to almost any project and remain the same irrespective of the task. However, the outcome of planning, the plan, can differ according to the nature and purpose of the task.
There are three stages in the process of preparing a marketing plan.
Once you are clear about your target market and about the position you propose to adopt in the market you can begin to define some marketing objectives. The first of these might be the purpose of the business: be as specific as possible regarding the business area in which you will operate, eg product type, customer groups, market needs, etc. For example:
to provide toys and games for children under 12 years old.
to provide an environmentally friendly range of packaging materials for use in the food industry.
The greatest danger when setting a price for the first time is to pitch it too low. Raising a price is always more difficult than lowering one, yet there are great temptations to undercut the competition. It is clearly important to compare your prices to your competitors’, but it is essential that your price covers all your costs. There are a number of possible pricing strategies from which you might choose. These include: