Monday, June 2, 2008

A Helicopter View of the Marketing Process

The marketing wheel of fortune :
Every successful marketing program — whether for a billion-dollar businessor a hardworking individual — follows the marketing cycle illustrated in.
The process is exactly the same whether yours is a start-up or anexisting business, whether your budget is large or small, whether yourmarket is local or global, and whether you sell through the Internet, via directmail, or through a bricks and mortar location.Just start at the top of the wheel and circle round clockwise in a neverendingprocess to win and keep customers and to build a strong business in the process
* Get to know your target customer and your marketing environment.* Tailor your product, pricing, packaging, and distribution strategies toaddress your customers’ needs, your market environment, and the competitiverealities of your business.* Create and project marketing messages to grab attention, inspire interest,and move your prospects to buying decisions.
* Go for and close the sale — but don’t stop there.* Once the sale is made, begin the customer-service phase. Work toensure customer satisfaction so that you convert the initial sale intorepeat business and word-of-mouth advertising for your business.* Talk with customers to gain input about their wants and needs andyour products and services. Combine what you learn with otherresearch about your market and competitive environment and use yourfindings to fine-tune your product, pricing, packaging, distribution, promotionalmessages, sales, and service.And so the marketing process goes round and round.In marketing, there are no shortcuts. You can’t just jump to the sale, or evento the advertising stage. To build a successful business, you need to followevery step in the marketing cycle, and that’s what the rest of the chapters areall about.

Marketing and sales are not synonymous :
People confuse the terms marketing and sales. They think that marketing is ahigh-powered or dressed-up way to say sales. Or they mesh the two wordstogether into a single solution that they call marketing and sales.Selling is one of the ways you communicate your marketing message. Sales isthe point at which the product is offered, the case is made, the purchasingdecision occurs, and the business-to-customer exchange takes place.Selling is an important part of the marketing process, but it is not and nevercan be a replacement for it.Without all the steps that precede the sale — without all the tasks involved infitting the product to the market in terms of features, price, packaging, anddistribution (or availability), and without all the effort involved in developingawareness and interest through advertising, publicity, and promotions —without these, even the best sales effort stands only a fraction of a chance forsuccess.

Jumpstarting Your Marketing Program :
Business owners clear their calendars for the topic of marketing typically atthree predictable moments:At the time of business start-upWhen it’s time to accelerate business growthWhen there’s a bump on the road to success, perhaps due to a loss ofbusiness because of economic or competitive threatsMarketing: The whole is greater than the partsAdvertising. Marketing. Sales. Promotions. Whatare the differences? The following story has circulatedthe marketing world for decades andoffers some good answers for what’s what in thefield of marketing communications:If the circus is coming to town and youpaint a sign saying "Circus Coming to theFairground Saturday," that’s advertising.If you put the sign on the back of an elephantand walk it into town, that’s promotion.If the elephant walks through the mayor’sflowerbed, that’s publicity.And if you get the mayor to laugh about it,that’s public relations.If the town’s citizens go to the circus, andyou show them the many entertainmentbooths, explain how much fun they’ll havespending money there, and answer questions,ultimately, if they spend a lot of moneyat the circus, that’s sales.Because marketing involves way more than marketingcommunications, here’s how the circusstory might continue if it went on to show whereresearch, product development, and the rest ofthe components of the marketing process fit in:If, before painting the sign that says "CircusComing to the Fairground Saturday," youcheck community calendars to see whetherconflicting events are scheduled, study whotypically attends the circus, and figure outhow much they’re willing to pay and whatkinds of services and activities they prefer,that’s market research.If you invent elephant ears for people to eatwhile they’re waiting for elephant rides,that’s product development.If you create an offer that combines a circusticket, an elephant ear, an elephant ride,and a memory-book elephant photo, that’spackaging.If you get a restaurant named Elephants tosell your elephant package, that’s distribution.If you ask everyone who took an elephantride to participate in a survey, that’s customerresearch.If you follow up by sending each survey participanta thank-you note along with a twofor-one coupon to next year’s circus, that’scustomer service.And if you use the survey responses todevelop new products, revise pricing, andenhance distribution, then you’ve started themarketing process all over again.Your business is likely in the midst of one of those three situations right now.As you prepare to kick your marketing efforts into high gear, flip back a pageor two and remind yourself that marketing isn’t just about selling. It’s aboutattracting customers with good products and strong marketing communications,and then it’s about keeping customers with products and services thatdon’t just meet but far exceed their expectations. As part of the reward, youwin repeat business, loyalty, and new customer referrals.

Marketing a start-up business :
If your business is just starting up, you face a set of decisions that existingbusinesses have already made. Existing companies have existing businessimages to build upon, whereas your start-up business has a clean slate uponwhich to write exactly the right story.Before sending messages into the marketplace, know your answers to thesequestions:What kind of customer do you want to serve.
How will your product compete with existing options available to yourprospective customer.What kind of business image will you need to build in order to gain yourprospect’s attention, interest, and trust.A business setting out to serve corporate clients would hardly want toannounce itself by placing free flyers in the grocery store entrance. It needsto present a much more exclusive, professional image than that, probablyintroducing itself through personal presentations or via letters on high-qualitystationery accompanied by a credibility-building business brochure.On the other end of the spectrum, a start-up aiming to win business fromcost-conscious customers probably wouldn’t want to introduce itself usingfull-page, full-color ads, because prospects would likely interpret such aninvestment as an indication that the advertiser’s fees are outside the range oftheir small budgets.To get your business image started on a strong marketing footing, define yourtarget customer’s profile and then project communications capable of attractingthat person’s awareness and prompting the feeling that, "Hey, this soundslike something for me."Pay special attention to the chapters in Part I of this book. They can help youidentify your customers, determine price and present your product, size upyour competition, set your goals and objectives, establish your market positionand brand, and create marketing messages that talk to the right prospects withthe right messages.