Ian Marsh discusses how to find the most effective marketing channels for your business.
For many entrepreneurs, getting your venture started is difficult as so much of it comes down to the consumer being aware of what your business has to offer – exposure which is tricky to get. The fact of the matter is, to be a success, sooner or later, entrepreneurs will have to get grips with the topic of marketing. Unfortunately though, for many, there are no available funds to hire marketing experts. Business owners therefore need to acquire this knowledge, and fast.
Many commonly mistake marketing for advertising. This however is not the case. Even though advertising is a key component of a business’s communication strategy it is only one part. As the word communication implies, a smart business will take a gestalt approach to communicating its offering and influencing consumer purchasing decisions.
This much needed knowledge can be coined as the ‘marketing mix’, and consists of four major areas, also known as the four KPIs. These building blocks are best defined by ‘Price, Product, Placement and Promotion’.
Finding the right product
Consumers want products and services that not only work but also meet their specific needs. For example, a clothes shop in France will sell very different products to one in Brazil. In essence, your offering has to reflect the market in which you operate in and should be considered carefully. This should also be joined with an attention to quality, packaging, and the possibility of valued-added services such as loyalty schemes.
This is not to say that these factors alone determine the right product; far from it. Many will have a definite life cycle with renewal and overhaul needed at certain stages. By putting some serious thought into it, you can quickly become an innovation leader and fill in new market niches.
The main goal of product policy is to fulfil the wants and needs of your customers. Therefore you have to ensure that your offer is tailored to the needs of your customers accordingly. One way to guarantee this would be to complete a short customer feedback questionnaire with an additional incentive for participants (eg a voucher for completing). Alternatively a few questions during the sale’s process may provide you with some valuable insights of what your customers expect.
Now that you have selected products and services in an appropriate combination, you must turn your attention to setting the right price.
In short, your pricing policy needs to get to the root of what your customers are willing to pay. Customers want the best value for money. It is therefore your main objective to offer your product at an attractive price while still being able to contend with your competitors.
Promoting your ‘added value’
Your marketing activity reflects all available information about your product or service which can be communicated to the public. Consequently, it is crucial to decide what information is relevant, what can be neglected, and what significantly affects your product’s sale.
There are many channels to go down such as advertising, promotions, exhibitions, sponsorships and public relations. However, not all will be appropriate and you must consider the optimal channel which will ensure that your customers hear and learn about your offering and finally decide to purchase.
Deciding the right distribution channels
When you have your finished product or service the only thing missing is the sales area. This may vary by product or service; from online, to shelves in a store, or direct sales at the front door.
Again it is vital to return to what your customer wants and therefore, what sort of channels will be most effective. It is often possible to combine multiple sales’ channels. Alternatively, you could consider whether partners and sales cooperations might be a way for you to bring your products to the customer.
Simply ensure that your customers are able to easily find your product. The best marketing strategy doesn’t do anything if your customer doesn’t know where or how to get it.
In conclusion, the concept of the 4’P’s within the marketing mix is relatively simple: finding the right product, reasonable pricing, make sure you promote that your offer exists and delivers an added value while choosing the right distribution channels. But most importantly, remember that the consumer needs to lie at the heart of all activity.