Complete marketing mix

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A complete marketing mix – from marketing strategy to individual actions, analysis and feedback – is essential for the success of your business

Marketing beyond promotion

Marketing is much more than just promotion.  It identifies potential markets.  Then it creates conversations with people and organisations in those markets for four reasons:

  1. To listen to their needs and understand how to meet them
  2. To help adapt your products and services to meet these needs in a cost-effective manner
  3. To build your company’s reputation as a trusted, reliable and effective partner
  4. To promote your products and services by showing prospects and customers the benefits they can gain from adopting your solutions

These all support the ultimate goal: to provide your organisation with a stream of qualified prospects which can be converted into sales that exceed your objectives.

Many organisations miss out on much of the value of marketing by concentrating just on the promotional aspect.  They run the dangers of missed markets, poorly targeted products, lower conversion rates and smaller margins.

Marketing must be involved at the start.  This is emphasised by the marketing experts interviewed by the Economist Intelligence Unit for the “Future of Marketing”. They state that marketing must be involved with the questions: “What should we make?  Who should we make it for?  How do we make it in such a way that the story of our product is true?”

The complete marketing mix provides customer insight from start to finish, from design to sales and customer advocacy.

NOTE: the term product is here used to refer to tangible products as well as to services

Read about RSC Marketing Mix Expertise ...

I have developed marketing strategies, branding, product plans, promotional campaigns and new channels for companies from startups to multinationals.  With this experience I can manage your complete marketing mix.  Or I can help with elements of it, whether it be building an agreed plan, executing individual marketing campaigns or providing feedback based on analysis of results.

Key areas in which I work are:

  • marketing strategy
  • product marketing
  • routes to market (channels)

as described in detail below

Marketing Strategy

Your marketing strategy should set out:

Goals

These are both financial (growth, revenue, gross margin) as well as market-related (market share, brand awareness, customer satisfaction, reputation)

Offering

All the elements including product, packaging, services, training, installation, support, maintenance should be reviewed

Market

The environment involves individual markets, opportunities, target customers (personas), prospects, competitors (direct & indirect), partners, suppliers, regulations and constraints

Positioning

Branding, messaging, customer benefits, objection handling, routes to market and pricing are all involved

Resources

The financial budget, people available and their abilities, as well as outside contributions from suppliers and partners all need to be considered

Promotion

Activities for sales support, partner support, direct marketing, PR, social media, advertising, events, inbound marketing need to be planned and delivered

Analysis

Forecasts need to be produced along with sensitivity and gap analyses and put into dashboards alongside up-to-date results to allow for review and updates to plans

Often it is assumed that the offering and market environment are already agreed.  However, different views in the organisation can come to the surface when these are discussed.  Writing a marketing plan gives the opportunity to clarify and agree any points of difference.  The result is better understanding of the plan and increased commitment to it.  With greater clarity, the marketing effort is more coherent and stronger.

The strategy should not be a long plan.  It can be short as long as it covers the complete marketing mix.  As with all plans, it will be valuable if it is succinct enough to be a living document – one that is referred to on a regular basis and updated as necessary.

Read about RSC marketing strategy expertise ...

Working with small companies  I have created marketing strategies from scratch to build growth.  At companies such as Dell I have planned the launch of complete new product ranges and developed new sales channels (direct, partner or online)

Product marketing

There are 5 elements of product marketing

  • Providing input to development and operations for new products or enhancements to meet customer needs
  • Determining packaging, pricing of your products
  • Positioning of products in the market and against the competition
  • Converting product features into competitive advantages and customer benefits
  • Supporting sales and partners with compelling messaging and objection handling

Feedback from the market – directly from customers, from surveys & research, from sales and from partners – is vital to understand how the customers are reacting to existing offerings and to identify unmet needs that can be met with future products.  Product marketing has the job of assessing and prioritising this feedback.  The marketers must then work with product development and operations to determine how products can be improved to satisfy unmet needs.  Together they must choose the most viable and profitable opportunities and forecast their potential.  The organisation can then decide which new products to pursue and develop them internally or source them from partners.

Once new products have been developed, a key role of product marketing is to ensure they have the right packaging.  This is not just a question of physical packaging – the boxes, wrappers and containers in which they are shipped – but the whole package of services with which they are promoted and sold.  It may involve accessories, installation, training, after-sales service and warranties.  This packaging can be almost as important as the actual product itself.  In particular these can provide reassurance to the customer of the quality of the product and the ease with which it can be introduced into their operations.

For existing products, marketers must engage in conversations with customers and prospects to find out their reactions to the product – why some are choosing it, why some are not and the experiences of those using it.  Sometimes this will throw up reasons or objections you had not yet thought of, and the product messaging should be improved to take these into account.  In addition feedback needs to be sent back to production and operations teams so that weaknesses can be removed.

When products are not sold directly, communication and messaging with sales partners is vital.  You may have the greatest product or service but if partners find it difficult to sell – or if they gain more money from selling other products – they may put little effort into promoting your product.  So you have to make sure that it is easy and worthwhile for your channel partners to sell, providing them with the right messages, training, promotional material and incentives.  You also have to keep in close contact in order to gain feedback from the end-users who are their customers and prospects.

Similarly, if partners carry out maintenance and support of your products, you need to establish and maintain strong channels of communication with them to keep in touch with feedback from users of your products.

More about RSC product marketing expertise ...

My experience of product marketing includes the management of brands within the UK, across Europe and worldwide.  I have also brought to market new products and services in the fields of computer hardware, software, communication products, media and training services, including customisation and pricing for different European markets.

Routes to market (channels)

Key to maximising sales as well as margins, is developing effective routes to market.  These can include face-to-face sales, telesales, online (with increasing emphasis on mobile), distributors, retail outlets, value added resellers (VAR) and affiliate marketing.

In determining which routes to develop, a number of key factors have to be weighed up:

Existing market structure

Brand awareness and values

Complexity of product

Value vs cost of indirect and direct sales

If the existing market structure predominately uses one particular channel, it may make it difficult to develop another way of selling.  On the other hand it may indicate an opportunity to seize.  When I joined Dell, PCs were sold almost entirely through dealers. The established wisdom was that they were too complex to sell directly.  Dell set itself apart by selling directly and delivering custom-built computers quickly without the cost of a middleman. 

Whether your brand is established or not will also influence how you sell it.  It is costly and takes a long time to develop brand reputation among consumers so it sometimes proves easier to sell your product to established distributors or retailers who will promote them via their existing channels.  Also if you brand lives by the value of customer experience, you almost certainly want to sell directly to control this experience – you would not expect Virgin products to be sold via resellers.

A complex product may require a great deal of knowledge to sell and so require dedicated sales people.  Very often the sales cycle will be long and the buyers will be a small niche.  An example would be the sales of complex software products, such as ERP, to large organisations.  Here face-to-face sales will be required, either by your own organisation or from a few specialist partners.

Choosing the right sales channels requires you to understand the value of your product to each potential purchaser, whether it be an end-user or someone who will sell the product on for you.  Against this you must measure the cost of selling to them.  But you must also understand the competition.  Selling to a reseller means you are competing for their attention with all the other products and services they sell, which may be in entirely different areas.  Resellers can present huge opportunities to spread your product widely and ramp up sales quickly.  However, if the reseller finds it easier or more profitable to promote and sell other products, yours may be given little time or effort.

Read about RSC routes to market expertise ...

During my career I have developed, and run, direct sales (face-to-face, telesales and online) as well as opening up partner sales.  I have managed the issues of balancing competing channels and focusing on the most successful.

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If you are interested in fnding out more about the services I provide and how they could be applied to your organisation, please click to send me a message