P R Smith, the American digital marketing guru talks of a ‘magical marketing formula’ to boost your businesses results. He distils this to the abbreviation IRD:
- Identify consumer needs
- Reflect those needs
- Deliver a customer experience which satisfies those needs and which is Good.
Take the example of Coca Cola, the market leading firm in the soft drinks market. Coke have identified that people need to be loved (A Maslow esteem need). Their advertising and promotional activity therefore shows people, in groups, having a good time and enjoying each other’s company; whilst drinking Coca Cola products.
There is a clear message in Coca Cola’s advertising; that their products are a conduit towards social interaction and friendship.
Coca cola are not the first to rely on people’s need to be loved and not to be alone. The famous advertising slogan “You’re never alone with a Strand” goes back to the 1930’s. It was used to sell Strand cigarettes and used imagery of a good looking couple spending time together.
Stressing a specific need is also used in other fields. Take cloud computing as an example. Many have concerns about the security of sharing data on remote servers. Many cloud computing service providers therefore target their advertising to stress the security of both their software and their servers.
However, if you are to rely on P R Smith’s magical marketing formula, structured marketing planning and research is essential. You must be sure that you have correctly identified customer need and that your promotional activity properly addresses that need in a correct and appropriate way.
In my experience, many small businesses do not carry out planning using scientific method. These businesses operate on gut feeling or the opinions of friends and family. If they do carry out planning and research, they do it once; at the start of the business planning process. Plans are then set in aspic.
However, marketing planning is an ongoing process, it never stops, and it must reflect changes in the economy, culture, regulation, technology, the environment and society as a whole. People’s needs and values change and your marketing must reflect those changes.
Small businesses do not have the resources to compete toe to toe with larger competitors. Small businesses need to be agile and to target specific customer groups. You cannot do that simply through the prism of your gut feelings. You cannot do that with plans which are historical in nature. Small business needs structured, regular, marketing planning to compete against larger organisations. As Hudson (2014) said, “There must be continual optimization of the marketing process for continued and repeatable success”*.
Too many small businesses collapse because they fail they have incorrectly defined their market or because they publish messages which do not correspond to the needs and values of their customer base.
Philmus Consulting can help your business to develop structured marketing plans that properly target your intended customer base and which can help your business grow.
* Hudson J., Wired Magazine.