Fancy a Coke?
Is thOnce upon a time it was an unequivocal offer…a coke was a coke. Much like the logo and the distinctive bottle shape, for years nothing really changed. However, with exceptional marketing and clever advertising campaigns it became the thirst quenching beverage that grabbed the world’s imagination with sales going from strength-to-strength. I say exceptional marketing, but in many ways it might seem quite simple. One product to one overall market. (The exceptional part relates to the messaging, positioning and repositioning that over the years has made for some memorable and iconic Coke adverts)
Today however, that question is more complicated as you now have to decide on which variety. Do you want a regular (let’s call this original); do you want the one with 2% sugar or perhaps you dislike sugar and are considering the two versions that have no sugar, each providing a different low calorie sweetener.
This calls for a more sophisticated marketing approach. The change has happened because the market has fragmented, more competitors are taking market share and us, the public, like choice. Of course for Coke they are a massive company and have millions to spend on research and advertising, and so if they believe the market wants four different types, they have the wherewithal to attack the market to grab share.
The big name and the massive numbers involved, where whole floors of marketing professionals toil on developing that one killer strapline and Madison Avenue advertising executives plan worldwide campaigns, can make you think that marketing is a concept that really only works on a big scale and that for smaller, ‘regular’ companies marketing is just a grand word for anything and everything a company does to try to move their business forward.
Whilst I don’t believe this to be true, I can understand how some people think this way. For the occasional marketer, and I class a good proportion of SME owners in this category, there is a language and terminology we use that to the casual user can be quite intimidating. It’s not through posturing we reel off phrases like customer relationship cycles, situation analysis or value segments. It’s just the way we talk and the tools we use.
The thing is though, at its core, marketing is about applying a logical approach to asking some fundamental questions and then using those answers to better target potential business. It is far more accessible than often believed and if used in this way, should always be capable of helping a business set a more informed course.
Nowhere is the value of having such a process more apparent than when we advise start-ups or recently formed businesses at our free marketing clinics that we provide for the North Somerset Enterprise Agency.
These sessions last only 30 minutes and are open to any business within North Somerset. We have little knowledge of each business going in, perhaps an outline goal at most.
And so we start by just talking through the basic questions which always begin with:
Tell me about your business and what you offer.
Other questions include… What is:
- Your target market
- who are those customers who most appreciate your area of superiority?
- what are their demographics?
- what motivates them?
- how would you describe your “perfect customer?”
- Competition: who are they, and what do they do, and why do people buy from them
- Your market positioning
- what is your competitive advantage?
- what is your area of excellence, superiority?
- do you have a unique selling proposition?
- Your pricing strategy
- can you decide your price point or is it set by competitors?
- Your promotional strategy
- what are the best possible ways to contact your ideal customers?
- what are the best possible media?
- what are the most powerful appeals?
By asking these questions in a systematic fashion we help them uncover the underlying information needed to outline how to design a plan. More often than not, by helping them break down the process like this, they leave feeling more capable of using marketing in a useful and logical way to help them achieve their business goals. Even in 30 minutes we glean enough information to give them a 1 to 2 page report with ideas and suggestions.
Now, for a start-up business the real benefit of these clinics is to open up some eyes to how marketing is a tool and a discipline that can be used by any company. As a way of thinking, it means you focus on how to make your product/service the solution to your customer needs.
Now I don’t want to oversimplify my profession. Marketing can and does get more complicated depending on the needs of a business and I’d certainly vouch for the need of a professional in many circumstances as a company grows particularly for the overall high level strategy and the day-to-day implementation. You need specialists in areas that matter, would be my belief.
At Echo Engage we help companies that need specialist marketing support. Either for specific projects, to develop strategy or to work as an outsourced marketing resource, often working for a specific number of days per month.
If you would like to talk to us about how we might help you, we would be happy to give you a FREE one hour marketing clinic where we can show you how we operate, think and deliver ideas and results.