Let’s start with a definition:
Management philosophy according to which a firm’s goals can be best achieved through identification and satisfaction of the customers’ stated and unstated needs and wants.
OK, it sounds rather clinical but it’s a pretty simple concept. Easy to understand but not so easy to implement. Every business is different and needs it’s own marketing concept. My marketing concept will not work for you because of many factors. Considerations to be made in every business include:
- Your location.
- Your products.
- Your customers.
- The time of year. (or month, or season)
- Your competition.
- If you are a physical location or an internet business.
- Your budget for marketing.
Your marketing concept must take these points into consideration. Answer these questions and you’ll have a good grasp on what you need to do.
- Your Location.
Particularly if you have a brick and mortar location, you need to know your area. Are you in an urban or rural location? What is the population of the area you want to serve? Are your potential customers willing to travel to where you are to buy what you offer?
- Your Products.
What a your products and/or services? What sells best? What has the biggest profit margin? What is your “signature” product? What product or service is unique to you and your business?
- Your Customers.
This is the most important item to consider for your marketing concept. We could spend hours talking about knowing your customers but for our purpose, let’s consider a few questions to answer. Are they mostly male or female? What is the average age of your best customer? Where do they live? What is the average income of your ideal customer? Write a paragraph or 2 describing your ideal customer. Do people shop online for the products that you sell? Are your products and/or services considered a luxury or a necessity? If you live in an area that is experiencing high unemployment, will people still be interested in your offer at the price you are asking? These are just a few questions to be answered. Given your particular situation, I’m sure you will come up with more.
- The Time Of Year. (or month or season)
Many business marketing concepts have to take into consideration what time of year it is. Take for instance where I live. Here in Northern Michigan we live in an area that depends on tourism. In the summer we see a great increase in population and many businesses rely on good summer sales to make them profitable for the entire year. In another town, Frankenmuth, Michigan, much of business there is related to the Christmas season. (If you’ve never been to Frankenmuth, you owe it to yourself and family to make the trip. Especially to see my old buddies Kevin and Ron Kern at Kern’s Market!).
- Your Competition
Knowing your competition is key to your success. What are your differences? Are your prices in line with the others? (Not that price is the most important factor, but it puts you in the game to be competitive.) Is your customer service better than theirs? If not, what changes do you need to make? How close are they to you? Do you compete with them or do they compete with you??? Think about it!
- Physical store location or an internet business.
Depending on your focus, either or both can be very successful if you plan it out. Here are some questions. Is you store location easy access to walk by traffic. Does what you sell rely on impulse buying? What is your parking situation? Is it easy to get in and out of your store and does it have good handicap access? Do your hours of operation match with your customers shopping habits? Does your store have a public bathroom? Is the lighting good?
If you run an Internet business, how are your skills at SEM and SEO? Do you use WordPress for your website? How are your writing skills?
- Your Marketing Budget.
Important here is, make a plan and follow it. Nothing will kill a great business quicker than poor funding. One of the great things about an Internet business is that it can be started and run on a shoestring, this isn’t meant to discourage you from a brick and mortar business, but it is the truth. Anyway, Questions: What is your largest funding source? Who do you have to answer to, if anyone, before spending money on marketing? How much does it cost for a Yellow Page ad? Is that where your customers find your products? Other places to advertise can be: local newspapers, Craigslist, Google AdWords, radio (can be a great source), TV, word of mouth (the BEST if your existing customers love you!) and some other things coming up that can really change the marketing game and give you the advantage you deserve.
This article is meant to get the old inventive juices flowing and I’m sure you can come up with many more questions to answer. As always, the more you learn, the better chances for the success you want. America is still the BEST place to be when it comes to business start up (and for everything else). Time to build your dreams. YOU CAN DO IT!