There are times in the life of any business where a planned assault into the marketplace is required. This could be to meet your growing ambition, or the ambition of a board who must report to shareholders to provide them with confidence that further returns on investment will arise. Whatever the underlying reason, whenever it’s time to look seriously at growing your business, there are a number of foundational steps that need to be understood and applied in order to achieve this growth.
1) Strategy Is The Key
Any serious attempt at growing your business needs to begin with a strategic mindset and plan. If you are well-versed with strategic planning, then you know the depths you must go to understand the business, the market it trades in, customers, your people, etc. Without this knowledge, do you believe you are fully equipped to devise and fulfill the planned expansion? I seriously doubt it.
Strategy is more than just knowing what you should already know. Strategy forms a much deeper understanding of the key areas in your business, the key challenges you currently face and most important where your business currently fits in the market sector you trade in.
Within the framework of strategy, the most important question you must answer and understand is “why your customers buy your product or service”. I have seen mission statements that mean absolutely nothing in terms of this key fundamental question. If you cannot understand, and most importantly, define, with clarity, why customers buy from your business, then you are not ready to go forward with a marketing campaign to attract additional customers.
If strategy underpins the entire existence of your business, how it trades and which markets it trades in, then wouldn’t it make sense to undergo a strategic planning meeting annually? In some business sectors, new product launches are frequent. If so, there will be time when a product may be a game changer. If it’s not your product, and you haven’t been paying the attention you should, then your business world can change overnight. You cannot have the excuse that you are not informed. It’s your primary role as a business leader to ensure that you are.
With all of this knowledge at your fingertips, you may be ready to focus on your marketing. Let’s be clear, marketing is THE tool you require to drive your strategy. Marketing is NOT merely promotion or sales. It is so much more. Marketing is the tool that sends messages to prospects and customers, proving them with information on the products and/or services you offer. But, this alone isn’t enough. If you recall what I said earlier about your strategy statement. If you cannot clearly define why customers buy from you, then you are missing the point.
Your marketing must contain this message. A prospect is interested in buying from you because they resonate with your message. They consider you understand them and therefore, you automatically become their chosen supplier.
2) Understand Your Market
Whilst I’ve discussed this earlier, this topic needs further mention because it is that important.
You need to map out your market. Who are the market leaders and why have they gained and retained this position? In other words, what is there strategic message? Who are the industry names in respect of personalities?
In the greater scale of the market, where does your business current sit? What is the current message and what should it be?
When looking at your strategic placement and your strategic plan as a whole, is there one key element missing? Whenever we look at a market, it is always defined by products or services that are available. We very rarely see a market re-positioned by looking at the customer’s needs.
If we take the motor industry for example, there are lots of different buyers. Yes, there are different products that meet customer’s needs and wants. But, customers spend more on the things they need rather than what they want, although the line between these two very different ideals may be fine at times.
With this in mind, the question now is where does your company stand in relation to meeting the needs of the market? Are you fully meeting your customer’s needs? Do you know what they are?
Whenever we investigate buyers in a market, there are always key decision-makers. Rather than segment your market based on demographics or any other method, have you thought about segmentation based on the needs of the buyer? I wonder what commonalities this may unearth?
Let’s agree that a sale occurs because a particular buyer feels that your product or service meet their needs at a price they perceive represents superior value, compared to your competition. The phrase ‘superior value’ is rarely attributed to price although price will be one of the reasons the customer chose your business.
In essence, the big three questions to answer are what products sell, who buys them and why do they buy them? Being able to answer all three of these questions places your business on the right track to devising a marketing program for growth.
Of course, there will inevitably be a requirement for segmentation as different needs will need a more individual approach.
By looking at your market in terms of your customer’s needs, you can now take a broader view and see how the main suppliers in the industry are meeting buyer needs, possibly in a superior way. Now you’re beginning to understand what is important and how you must compete, depending on which segments your business engages with and meets the needs best. The decision is whether you plan to expand your operation to strengthen your current standing in the market and/or whether there is a particular set of customer needs that you have not addressed. Perhaps by marketing to these people in a different way, you can address their reservations/perceptions about your business and then see you as the obvious choice for their next purchase?
In part 2, you’ll discover what the next stages are on this strategic journey.3 Foundational Marketing Steps For Growing Your Business Part 1 Click To Tweet