Changing world calls for new marketing strategies

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Marketing is often described as a multistep process that links together maker, seller and buyer. It is far more than just manufacturing a superior product and hoping that someone will come along and buy it.

Inclusive marketing covers all bases and methods of developing and improving customer relations. It is never the old adage of “one call does it all.”

Marketing is also a continuing process that addresses and informs about the important factors concerning the capability of your shop, the skill of your employees, pricing and, more importantly, what you can and will do for others. It’s all about communicating with current customers, cultivating borderline existing markets and developing new ones. The intent is to reach out, to discover and identify unfilled needs and wants and to generate more revenue.

Be strategic

Inclusive marketing is based on taking a strategic approach. In other words, there’s not one plan for the masses.

For example, if you’re producing a variety of products, it’s often wise to segment or categorize customers into smaller buying groups. This will prevent some wheel spinning and not trying to sell high-end cabinets to a building contractor who is only looking for stock moldings.

Today, customers expect more. Each one wants to think that he or she is your most important customer and each expects to be treated as such. Communicating your fundamental message — explaining who you are, what you do and, most importantly, what you can for a particular customer — is an underlying principal of any marketing effort.

The next step is to create a positive image and correctly position your products. Start by determining where do your products fit into the customer’s scheme of things and how do they stack up against the competition? The goal is to create an honest and positive sales pitch.

In the past, marketing plans have relied on a skilled sales representative to close the deal. There are pros and cons to this approach in today’s environment. Having a professional who knows all of the ins and outs of your product lines and has the skill to maintain customer relations still has great value. But there are other less expensive avenues.

Internet marketing is one option. Today’s customers tend to go online first, thoroughly exploring their options before ever leaving their home or office. Therefore, it’s paramount to have a professionally prepared site.

Another option is to turn current employees into a part-time sales force. While you might find a hidden talent for an all-star sales representative, what you’ll more likely find is a group of hard-working employees who are genuinely proud of what the company makes. It human nature, I believe. They like to talk about what they do for a living and boast about how they do things better. It can be a ringing endorsement.

Recently, I was having telephone problems and scheduled a service call. The technician made the necessary repairs but, before he left, went into a sales pitch on the reasons why I should be switching from my present Internet and television program service provider to his company. His pitch was very good. I could tell he really thought his company was better than my provider and he got me thinking about making a change.

Before and after

When you embark on a marketing program for the purpose of developing new clients and expanding the purchases of current customers, your appeal can be directed in one of two ways. First, you are seeking a market in search of a product that you want to sell. The second is finding a market that is in search of a product, but not served by another shop or finds it too expensive.

Although your marketing program can be directed at both, it’s usually better and faster to concentrate on one at a time.

Lastly, it is important to have a follow-up program. Maintaining customer contact is the first priority. But it’s also important to measure the success of your program and make any necessary adjustments.

Lloyd R. Manning is a semiretired commercial real estate and business appraiser, financial analyst, and author. He can be reached at lloydmann@shaw.ca.

This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue.

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