First, let’s recap part one of Small Business Marketing 101. We already discussed the importance of marketing orientation and market research. We also explained how to slice the market into different segments and how focusing on a market segment can translate to success. It is through the proper use of tracking and lead capture forms that you will be able to achieve results from market segmentation and targeting. We will discuss in a future blog post some ideas on how to use different mechanism to qualify leads and assign them to different customer segments. In the meantime we will return to our framework:
The Marketing Process
- Marketing Orientation
- Market Research
- Market Segmentation
- Buying Process
- Product, Price, Promotion, Placement (4Ps)
Positioning; this is where we define the DNA of the brand. You already understand who your target segment is and what they value most. Now, you need to really translate those customers perceptions into words. Think of a few words (three is common practice) to uniquely describe your brand. It is important for these words to capture the value proposition that you offer and that they set you apart from the competition. It is here where you need to think hard about your company, your customers, and your competition (the famous 3C’s of marketing). This analysis will determine your positioning statement, which once again shouldn’t be a 10 page document, but rather a tight set of words that encompass what your brand stands for. It should define your essence and drive your vision.
Let us now dig into the 4P’s of marketing and the buying process.
The four P’s are the following:
- Product: This involves the physical product and packaging if you are selling a good or in the case of services, it can relate to the offering itself and the value added that you provide.
- Price: This is the actual amount that someone would pay for your product or service. It is important to differentiate between the willingness to pay and the price. Many times customers are willing to pay more for a good than the price it is sold at.
- Place: This referes to the distribution mechanism which includes: retail stores, supermarkets, chain stores, convenience stores, distributors, and online e-commerce sites.
- Promotion: Every product is accompanied by an array of communications and advertising that the manufacturer provides. This includes all of the marketing activities that a company undertakes, including Public Relations, ads, e-mail campaigns, direct mail, fliers, etc.
Now that we have spelled out the 4Ps that will help bring a product to market, it is time to look at the customer and the way in which a purchase actually occurs. There are many different variations of this process, but here is a simple one that is widely accepted.
The buying process:
- Awareness: The customer must first recognize that he has a need that he wants to satisfy. Then he must become aware of the existence of the product or service in the market place.
- Information Search: At this point, the customer is looking to learn more about a given a product or service. This can be done through contacting the company, online research, or through solicitation of recommendations.
- Evaluation of Alternatives: The customer then compares the different options he has to decide which is the best product for his needs. He is defining which has the best value proposition and which one will be a better fit.
- Purchase: Now the customer has made a decision and is ready to go ahead and purchase the product. This final decision is based on the attributes of the product, the emotional input and the attitude of the buyer and his response to the product’s positioning.
This concludes our introduction to small business marketing, where we have explained the basics behind a successful marketing process. Remember that this is a generic framework and one must understand the market dynamics when using it for a specific business analysis. We hope you are ready to start planning your marketing process and that very soon you will be structuring your marketing efforts around your marketing process.