Marketing. It’s that word again. We hear it all the time, yet for many people it means so much... or so little! Marketing is the raising of your product or service’s profile, and getting it visible out in the public sphere. It is the portraying of your brand in a positive and appealing light. It is finding out what the public wants so you can ensure you continue to provide a product or service that is desired. It is ensuring you try to stay a step ahead of your competitors, giving you a market advantage.
There a many aspects of marketing - all completely inter-related, so the marketing machine can be visualised as exactly that- A machine, with all it’s components working together, helping each other to drive the machine forward as a whole. But if this all still seems a bit clouded, read on as this blog will aim to demystify marketing and highlight just how it could benefit your business.
we’ll look at four marketing concepts - and the large corporations and companies who did or didn’t take heed of these. Company names are changed to protect their identity... And my wallet!
1) Complete In-Depth Market Research.
You will probably guess this company, but shhh, keep it to yourself!
In the mid 80’s a successful inventor/ businessman strived to create a small one man electric powered car. It was intended to be a landmark in the auto trade...It was meant to revolutionise the way people travelled, and could be driven by people aged 14. It was also totally green, running on electricity. He was so sure of it’s world-changing success, this inventor pressed right ahead with the design and production of it.
But did people want this product? Was it something people would buy? He didn’t really know- because he never conducted any market research.
Market research seeks feedback from the public so that businesses can get detailed information on exactly what the consumer would like. From this information, businesses can sculpt their product to ensure that it is something that is in demand.
In terms of the case study of this ill-fated car, it was finally revealed that this was not something anyone wanted at all (at that time). But this realisation came only after production had started. The car was too small to fit anything other than one person, it was exposed, slow, vulnerable and its direct competition was with motorbikes and bicycles, which were much cheaper. Production was halted after only ten months, and spelled sadly the beginning of the end for this company.
2) The Marketing Mix - The 4 P’s
So you have a product. What price do you make it, where do you place the product for sale, and how do you promote it? And in that fell swoop, there you have the 4 P’s!
Product, Price, Place and Promotion can be argued to be four different marketing aspects in their own right, but for simplicity (and to give you a good case study), we’ll l
ook at them in their inter-related concept. These factors directly affect sales, as each one has to be considered carefully in order to reach the desired target market. Let me give you an example.
Pen Maker A designed and produced quality pens. As time went on, they began to experience a considerable decrease in sales. While many companies may accept these periods of down-sales, Pen Maker A resolved to find out why. After a bit of market research (they’ve notched up points in my book already! See above!) they discovered that rather than being purely bought for writing purposes, due to the quality of their pens and the relatively higher price, they were often being bought as gifts. With this information, Pen Maker A was able to implement use of the four p’s to reboot their sales. They had the product already, so they looked at promotion. To this effect, they nodded their sensible heads to the fact that their products were often gifts, and redesigned the packaging as an elegant presentation box rather than regular plastic packaging. Next, the price was revised to reflect the quality and the charm of the product. Finally, renewed consideration about place was given as they looked at where would be best to sell the product, after all, a fancy pen in a presentation box wouldn’t exactly fly off the shelves in a school tuck shop, but it would in an upmarket department store, or a fancy stationers. The outcome? You guessed it - sales were rejuvenated and the company trades strongly to this day.
3) Know your competition
Unless you sell hot chocolate to Antarctic penguins, then most businesses will need to strongly consider this marketing principle as one of the first things they do, and then continue to do so at regular intervals. Much success of a business can rest on keeping up and ahead of your closest competition as much as possible, and as the waves of consumerism wash back and forth, you want to make sure you are squarely in the thick of things as much as possible! Cue the tale of Honey Maker A.
Honey Maker A began losing sales and wondered why, but the key reason lay in his marketing department. Honey branding had moved on, ever since vast investment into honey research by the New Zealand government rolled up the garage door and revealed manuka super-honey, which was confirmed as having a number of health benefits. The straight-forward way in which honey had been presented to the public would never be the same again. The new Manuka honey shot up in price and became a luxury item rather than a staple necessity, and realising the change in honey marketing, updated their packaging and presented more ‘exotic’ honeys such as ‘wild clover honey’ ‘Acacia honey’, ‘Scottish heather honey’ and such like.
Honey Maker A however, did not keep up and as a result began to look dated and the very cheap relative price combined with it’s dusty styling make it look like a poorer quality product than it was. Many customers slipped away in the night and tried new honeys, never to return. Only time will tell if fortunes will turn around for Honey Maker A, and if these customers will slip back again.
4) Develop a Communication Strategy
While donning a private detective hat and perching in a tree next to your competitors’ offices might be part of your product or service marketing (this is metaphorical of course!), communication with the public is what most people would think of when you say ‘marketing’, and they’re right. Connection with the public plays just as big a role as any other marketing principle. Communication is like the drive train from the marketing engine to the company wheels, moving the the business forward!
And what forms of communication do we have? Anything you want! Communication strategies cover anything from posters, leaflets, phonecalls, through to Social media and websites. A good robust company identity and branding can go miles in forming an immediately recognisable product or service, so don’t forget to come up with some nice designs and colour schemes! But psst... there are also some cunning but clever tricks you can use to grab attention.
Tourist Attraction A often had leaflets positioned in a number of leaflet racks in tourist centres and public buildings. The problem that they had experienced is that a run of leaflets will be swallowed into the jostling crowd of colours, pictures and text wrestling it out in the rack. For these poor leaflets it’s survival of the fittest amongst this chaos, so Tourist Attraction A’s leaflets got fit: They grew in height, towering above it’s rivals by a good couple of inches, which meant that it was now too big and burly to sit with the mass of leaflets in the middle of the rack. It’s new size meant that it became king, and was throned on the prestigious and by far most visible top row. Placing the new leaflet anywhere else would cover the leaflets behind, so this cunning trick ensured it would always be on the most visible top row.
Tourist Attraction B took a different route, and their leaflet adapted in a different way to survive. From a leaflet’s point of view, it’s easy to be lost in the forest of colours and pictures so Tourist Attraction B got boring, very boring. They implemented a light, flat block colour with almost no design over the entire front of the leaflet. This cunning trick works, because like a gent in a top hat, tails and a monacle attending a rave, it becomes so boring that it is exciting and stands out! The pale block colour acted like a forest clearing in the clatter of images on the rack, naturally drawing the eye towards it.
Similar tricks can be applied for a number of communication styles, but we can’t give away all the secrets! Remember that the Business gateway offers a range of courses and workshops including marketing, so come along and you may just learn more secrets there! But for now, keep in mind that thinking outside of the norm can go miles in making sure your communication is picked up.
So there we have five marketing principles that can help you boost your business, and as we’ve seen, it can make the difference in helping you boost sales or services. Some companies have shown some good use of marketing, and as we’ve also seen through the colourful (and real!) examples, these have often made the difference in helping to revitalise sales. Business Gateway offers free workshops in marketing, as well as a range of other skills. Visit the website now to see what workshops we have coming up. You may even have the names of the mystery companies used in this article revealed at the workshop...
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