Even with quality products and excellent customer service, many good companies are often limited in their competitiveness against larger competitors and therefore their ability to take market share from the larger players in their industry. The good news is that with smart marketing strategy, smaller companies can grow their market share in a big way. Developing a strategy always starts with asking the right questions – here are a few to consider.
- What is the perceived value of your brand (and products) compared to larger competitors?
- Have you matched your competitive advantages to defined market segments?
- Are you communicating your competitive advantages clearly to your target segments?
Marketing is widely misunderstood by many business people, for natural reasons. It’s also widely misunderstood by marketing consultants, most of whom serve as content producers (writers, designers) or technicians (SEO, social media, etc.). Marketing strategy should drive your business planning for the future — it should not be viewed as merely promotion and branding. Your business’ role in the market and community needs to be envisioned by you and then realized with strategic planning. — Darren Ballegeer
When I travel and meet business people in different countries, I see the same fundamental marketing challenges. I see that universal truths of human nature and business transcend borders, culture, language and industry. Here are the recommendations I make to business people in response to two marketing challenges I often hear:
1. “Consumers don’t want to take a chance on a product they don’t understand”. Recommendation – Since most consumers prefer to follow others rather than educate themselves, customer stories should lead your marketing communications. Address consumers’ questions and concerns through a positive customer story.
2. “I don’t want to spend more money on advertising or other promotion, but I need to get more customers”. Recommendation – Your paid outreach is not bringing a good return because it is not strategic. Clarify your market position, message your value proposition, identify buying decision factors, and share customer stories. — Darren Ballegeer
Of all the things that marketing communications can bring your business, what is the first and most valuable? What is the low-hanging fruit that is often ignored when big, new marketing initiatives are being planned? Answer: converting past customer prospects that you are not nurturing. Most small businesses don’t nurture prospects – if a prospect can’t be sold in the short term, they move on to new leads. It’s the failure of an outdated sales process that’s not supported by strategic marketing. Nurturing relationships with past prospects has a high ROI because it recoups value from the initial investment already made with prospects. Nurturing prospects increases sales, elevates your brand reputation, and recoups lost value from your lead generation and sales efforts. — Darren Ballegeer
In order to increase your sales and profits, your marketing communications need to do more than push out product and company information. Marketing needs to do everything that will move your customer target to a buying decision – it needs to answer key questions, clearly define customer benefits, establish trust and credibility, and honestly address the ‘unspoken’ issues that block buying behavior. In a way, marketing needs to be the customer’s advocate. Certainly, marketing needs to be designed from the customer’s perspective. — Darren Ballegeer
Marketing efforts should be focused on the few areas of your business that will benefit most from communicating your brand’s attributes, competitive advantages, and customer benefits. Identifying these areas (by product, by sales objections, etc.) and targeting them strategically is a process. Viewing marketing communications as a menu of tools and tactics ignores the strategic opportunity that will really drive client attraction, brand affinity, and business growth. — Darren Ballegeer
You know the type. Good looks, stylish, grabs your attention. But when you look a little deeper, there is not much substance, or you’re left confused. Brand logos and advertising is what I’m talking about – marketing tools that have been designed to look good but with little thought to what they communicate. Truth is, creative visual is not king – messaging is king and design should be its humble servant. Logo here is a good example of how attractive design cannot make up for a brand name that doesn’t communicate. – Darren Ballegeer