Philip O’Brien – Creation Media
As we enter the third week of 2018 many people will have made (and broken?) New Year’s resolutions.
Personal promises to improve the self.
However how many of you business owners and managers have made the resolutions for your businesses?
Can you honestly say that 2017 was a perfect business year, that you were happy with the outcome from every business decision?
Very few, if any of us would be able to reply positively.
Is it not as important to examine our previous mistakes in business and identify areas where we can learn, avoid improve and strengthen?
Oscar Wilde said “Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time” while Dale Carnegie felt that “The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way”
There’s nothing wrong with mistakes but we must learn from them and adapt to prosper.
So as we begin 2018 an examination of our marketing strategy is wise and worthwhile.
Examining the basics are a good place to begin. Here are 3 core areas to consider when developing your marketing strategy for 2018
Do you understand your business environment?
A lot can change in a year. What has changed in your business environment and how does this impact you?
Have new competitors entered the market?, Have regulations changed? Have political or economic factors changed with a knock on effect for your business?
Unless you understand the market how will you accurately market the businesses products or services?
For example if the cost of your goods or materials has risen can you absorb the cost and market yourself as a low cost provider or do you pass the cost on to the consumer in which case you may wish to consider adding value. Sky TV added value for customers by providing the facility to watch Sky on mobile devices at no extra cost.
The main thing is that you are aware of constantly changing environments and then effectively communicate how you’ve adapted and innovated for the customers benefit.
Do you understand your customer?
This may sound very obvious but unless you understand your customer(s) segment(s) how can you effectively market to them?
Customer preferences change constantly influenced by pop culture, technological innovation, disposable income and many other factors.
Are certain customer segments spending more per visit, can the business employ newer marketing channels such as Snapchat or Facebook Messenger to reach certain customer segments
When are your customers more receptive to receiving (and actioning), marketing communications?
What type of language and messages are they most receptive to?
(One way to test this is to use Split or A/B Testing where you show customer groups (either online or in focus groups) 2 different adverts/messages/offers and receive feedback on what engages the customer the most.
Remember if you listen to your customers and your frontline staff then much of the information on which to base marketing decisions will be provided to you.
Do you understand your competitors?
Some businesses more successful than others. Why?
If your business isn’t the market leader its advisable to look at the longest established and the most successful businesses in your sector.
What do they do differently? What are they known for?
It may be a combination of all these things but your business needs to understand what makes them successful as customers are obviously responding to their offering.
By doing this you can also examine where you are performing better or can improve to be better in certain areas and market your business accordingly.
A word of caution however. Whatever you choose it must be of importance to the customer. Its no use picking something which customers couldn’t care less about.
Which competitors appeal to which market segments?
Which competitors utilise technology and innovate most effectively
You must examine the strengths and weaknesses of each and develop a strategy which focuses your resources where you can gain most in return.
So if a competitor is known for low prices but poor customer and after sales service you should communicate that your customer experience is great and you have a no quibble returns policy and communicate this as a value message.
Think about Aer Lingus vs Ryanair. Given a choice on routes certain people will pay more to travel on Aer Lingus because of poor previous experiences with Ryanair or simply a perception of better service/ reputation
Conversely others will say it’s a low cost “does what it says on the tin”, “no frills”, airline and are willing to accept less comfortable seating and other add-on’s for a lower price.
It’s a question of how they are marketed and a realisation that there are different preferences.
Making the same mistakes over and over is as unforgiveable as it is avoidable and any business which consistently repeats mistakes will eventually fail.
As Darwin said its those that adapt best that survive longest.
Will your business learn and adapt in 2018?
In our next blog post we’ll look at the big business trends for 2018 and how these relates to SME’s
Creation Media are a Marketing & Communications company who work with clients to identify and develop effective strategies which reach their customers.
We also provide training & mentoring services for a number of state agencies.