Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Reality Check: Marketing Defined

Every so often you have to evaluate how you are doing.  If you are a marketing professional, it's your responsibility.  So when is the last time you stepped back, and took a look at what you were doing?  Sometimes the best way to do that is to start with the basic definition of marketing.

The simplest definition of marketing I can think of is: Managing profitable customer relationships.  The goals are to attract new customers through superior value, and to keep growing customers by delivering customer satisfaction.  If you are doing these things, then you will be able to capture value from customers to create profits and customer equity.

So if we break this down, then we get some basic questions that are extremely useful for evaluating your current strategic marketing plans:

1) Are your customer relationships profitable?
If you're not making money, then it's time to start figuring out why.  Start collecting data and begin looking for trends.  It's going to take time to get things back to profitability, so it's best to get started now.

2) Are you attracting new customers?
As much as we hate to admit it, we're always going to lose a customer.  Even the most loyal customers may eventually buy another brand.  If you're not attracting new customers, eventually your sales will fall flat, and you will not be profitable.  So what are you doing to attract new customers?  What value proposition are you presenting to them?  Are you properly differentiated from your competition in your target market?  If your value proposition isn't clear, if you're not clearly different from your competitors, then confusion may be keeping customers from being convinced you are the solution to their want or need.

3) Are you creating satisfied customers?
Are product's perceived performance exceeding expectations?  Meeting expectations? Are customers buying your goods and services again?  Are you gaining new customers?  Or are you dealing with dissatisfied customers and poor sales?  Remember that customer value and satisfaction are the building blocks for developing and managing your customer relationships.

4) Do you have key measurements of your customer equity?  
Customer equity measurements can be better indicators of your performance than sales and market share numbers.  If sales are high, and market share is high, but your customer equity is low, you're going to be losing sales and profits will be tanking soon.  Get some data so you can make some real decisions.

Sit down by yourself, and with your team, and take a day to honestly answer the above questions.  You may be surprised at some of the responses.  Now may be a great time to make adjustments to your strategic marketing plans.


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