Marketing Strategy! More Exciting than Situation Analysis

Strategy. The term evokes great inspiration, perhaps due to it's military origin. Alas, Julius Caesar you are not, but you do have a business to run. Skip the MBA and the ancient world philosophy. Instead, lets break it down and get your focus group thinking in productive terms (last week was Situation Analysis).

Segmentation: A Fortune 500 Marketing Director said that during interviews for marketing analysts, the interviewee gets 10 minutes to mention segmentation - its that important. Segments, which your business and your competitors are concerned with, are groups of customers who will respond to identical marketing efforts in a common fashion (e.g. laptop owners who check their personal email regularly). If customers within the segment don't respond in a similar fashion, let me clue you, this is a poorly defined segment. Back to the drawing board.

Targeting: Your business can't please everybody. Those segments, which are your sweet spot, mean everything, ditch the rest. Here is an example. If your business offers Quality and there is a segment that only cares about Price, ditch 'em. You should get a sinking feeling from segments demonstrating elastic demand. No marketing expert can help you with those price-sensitive folks! You are an extractor, in the no man's land of operational efficiency and price wars! I pity you! Sorry about that, I get a little emotional around commoditized services.

Positioning: "You are the one I've been looking for all my life"! Okay, that's dramatic; hopefully, you see the analogy: Your company's brand occupies a place in the hearts and minds of the customers (if it's strong) who comprise your targeted segment. Your company's brand compels a purchase decision (if it's positive, "BP" = "oil spill" to most people, not exactly warm and fuzzy).

As Julius said: "People worry more about what they can't see (understand), than what they can". So, understand your business marketing strategy.

Next week is about Strategy Execution. I must leave you with a Julius quote that happens to coincide with this blog's 3 part series: "I came, I saw, I conquered. Veni Vidi Vici."

Part 3 - Conquest!


Modern-Era Must Knows About Service Businesses

Marketing your business, requires modern-era understanding of The Situation. Next comes the question: "How has The Situation changed"? Depending on your business, change could happen in 1 month. Then comes Strategy Development (my topic next week).

Competitors - In the old days, competing families would bring guns to church and then shoot each other after the singing. Huck Finn would appreciate today's business environment where (unlike the Grangerfords & Shepherdsons) this town IS big enough (or at least this planet) for both of us. You can learn powerful lessons from your competitors (despite your grumbling, they are in the same business). Don't like it, not one little bit? Follow their moves via the net. Social Media, email lists, networking, google search etc. Just like you, they have no option but to be transparent.

Company - The concept of and some people's reaction to outsourcing is outdated. Effective business models today, are built by defining the select functions that should be IN-Sourced, with all other functions outsourced, by default. Even the venerable (or shill for big business depending on your view) Forbes Article calls for discarding tax regs and laws leftover from a bygone era when manufacturing dominated the US economy. Businesses are increasingly being supported by easily contracted services. This can mean anything from hiring a whiz kid who knows the latest software to hiring fed ex to courier your packages. Find your Unique Value Proposition and stick to it.

Customers - Coinciding with the great consumer demand slump of 2009 came Web 2.0. The result is consumers with high standards; they do not accept overt solicitations. Rather, customers need to be informed by your business and receive something of value before even giving you the opportunity to explain the service offering. The days of drawn-out monologues, repetitive advertising, spamming, and even crafty SEO tactics, are gone. Your offered content must engage the consumer or its game over.

Climate - By now, its a bit anti-climatic for me to state "Internet" (which is the obvious one). Business are under a microscope. Amazon is being blasted for offering books geared to pedophiles. New laws are being created because of Google's data collection practices.
Wasting is unpopular, whether you are a consumer, a politician or a Wall St banker. Even vegan dieting has a growing foothold in American high society - Bill Clinton of all people has put down his cigar and picked up celery (or at least the latter).

Collaborate - Even before this became a corporate buzz word in 2010 it was part of classic situational analysis. Today, collaborating has truly come of age, in a time where technology and software can allow employees to work seamlessly from remote locations with other employees, sub-contractors, suppliers and business alliances.

Employ these concepts to better understand the particular business situation. Then comes strategy.