Friday, August 3, 2012

Marketing & Social Media 101 for Business (Part 1)

This week, I presented a seminar to business clients on marketing basics and its interaction with social media.

Social media seems to be the buzz word out there in business so I thought it appropriate that I prepare a basic summary for other business owners.

What is the purpose of a business? Peter Drucker, the famous US management consultant put it simply…”to create a customer”. Whilst I agree with this, I prefer to add “and keep them coming back”.
This addition is really important when you see many businesses focusing solely on gaining new customers whilst neglecting the customers they already have – banks being a typical example.

Now, there are just four ways to grow a business:
1. Increase the number of customers you have
2. Increase the number of times they come back
3. Increase the average value of each sale
4. Increase the effectiveness of each process in the business

Effective marketing is a key factor that drives the 4 ways to grow and therefore business growth.

All customers expect quality products and services these days.
So how can you differentiate your offering in the market – in a way that the customer values?
Marketing is about making your customers, both existing and potential, aware of your value proposition, thereby providing you with an opportunity to identify and meet their needs.

Marketing, however, differs from selling. Marketing creates the opportunity – in other words, encourages them into your store or website. From here, your selling systems, a major component of which is your team, needs to convert that opportunity into a sale whilst providing such a great experience that they wish to return in the future.

However, your marketing strategies must be consistent with your selling strategies ie you must deliver equal to or more than your marketing promises. This is the challenge for business!

Every contact a customer has with your business is a “moment of truth” in your customers eyes (I strongly recommend the book “Moments of Truth” by Jan Carlzon). Does your team know what your marketing message is and does your culture reflect that?

It is critical that you have structured selling systems, clear customer service standards and that your team is trained and fully conversant with these standards.


Your marketing strategies must reflect your personal and business goals.
You must be clear what you are endeavouring to achieve and devise and put in place strategies to meet those goals – which critically include marketing strategies.

So, what is marketing? Marketing may be perceived as:
1. Understanding who and where your existing and potential customers are
2. Defining the products and services to meet the needs of the market
3. Identifying the tools of marketing to be used to reach the market in the most effective and cost efficient
4. Managing those tools of marketing including measuring and testing alternatives.

A simple summary of the process of identifying customers and products/services is as follows:
1. Existing products and services to existing customers – do your customers know what you
2. New products/services to existing customers – are your customers buying products or
    services from your competitors or other providers?
3. Existing products and services to new customers – most businesses are chasing this and
    neglecting 1. & 2. above
4. New products and services to new clients – this is the most risky of the 4

Consider looking at business growth by brainstorming strategies in each of the 4 areas listed above.

What are the tools of marketing?
This list is not exhaustive, but includes:
* Advertising – paper/radio/TV * Endorsements
* Referral systems * Guarantees
* 3rd dimension * Website
* Email * Seminars
* Direct Mail * Brochures
* Telemarketing * Signage
* Events * Merchandising
* Social media

Wally Hawlyluk, founder of the world renowned Australian Bird Company, famously stated “marketing is like a wheelbarrow – if you don’t push it, it doesn’t go anywhere!”

What are your goals, associated marketing strategies and tools that you need to put in place to efficiently and cost effectively grow your business in the manner that you desire?

A critical factor in developing your marketing strategy and appropriate tools to execute that strategy is understanding who your competitors are. In my opinion, we are going through a fundamental shift in how a business interacts with its customers. With increased “connectivity” through mobile smart phone/tablet technology, the number of your potential competitors has increased exponentially.
On the flip side, however, the number of your potential customers has increased exponentially as well. Virtually every industry has the same risks and opportunity in this fast moving world.
We are just seeing the ripples in the pond now – are you going to be a beneficiary or victim of this evolution?

I believe that in this day and age, all businesses should have an online presence. How that web page looks and functions will depend upon your value proposition, your business strategies, the demographics of your customers – both actual and potential and your social media strategy. I truly believe that Google is the new Yellow Pages – you cannot afford to not be online now!
Just one word of warning – make sure that your web designer understands what Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) means and that your web site will come up in Google when a search is made for businesses of your type and location.
It is easy to become lost in a sea called the World Wide Web.

So, in Part 1, we have covered some basic considerations in planning your marketing strategies. Next post, in Part 2, we will look specifically at social media and how these marketing tools can be used to grow your business.

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