The Value Proposition

Why should a consumer buy from you?

Competitive Advantages

What makes you better than your competition?

Choosing A Differentiation Strategy

You chose a target market, now what?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Marketing 101: Microenvironment - Suppliers

Last week, we examined the Company in the Marketing Microenvironment.  Your relationship with other departments within your business can greatly effect whether or not you are able to successfully get a product to market, communicate the right message, create customer value, and get value from your customer.  Now let's examine Suppliers.

In the Marketing Microenvironment, Suppliers form a critical link in the company's overall customer value delivery system.  Suppliers provide the resources you need to produce the products and services that you are selling.  Supplier's not only supply you with resources, they also can partner with you in the customer value delivery system. 

When it comes to actual physical resource management, Marketing Managers must watch supply availability.  Resource shortages, delays, labor issues, and other unforeseen events can cost sales in the short term, and damage customer satisfaction in the long term.

However the real key to delivering customer value with your suppliers is partnering with them.  Partnering with them allows them to receive value from you other than payment for goods.  For example, have you considered offering to test new products and goods from your supplier?  What are you doing to help your supplier work with you?  What kind of customer service are you providing to them?  Good partnership management results in success for not only you, but for them, and in the end, your customers.

Take the next week and honestly evaluate the state of your supplier relationships.  It might be a good idea to send them an impromptu survey with carefully worded questions that will help you assess how good (or bad) of a job you are doing maintaining your relationships.

Next time we will examine Marketing Intermediaries.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Marketing 101: Microenvironment - The Company

In this continuing Marketing 101 series, I think it's time to begin looking at the Marketing Environment.  The Marketing Environment consists of the factors and forces outside marketing that affect marketing management's ability to build and maintain successful customer relationships with target customers.  Within this environment we have the Macro-environment and the Micro-environment.  Let's start with the Micro-environment.

The Micro-environment consists of the factors close to the business (usually involving business relationships) that affect its ability to serve its customers.  We can break the micro-environment down into specific segments:

- The Company
- Suppliers
- Marketing Intermediaries
- Customers
- Competitors
- Publics

Let's start with The Company.

The Company
Inside the Company (think your business), marketing managers must work closely with other company departments.  They simply cannot work within a realm of isolation.  They have to depend on, and take other groups, into account.  These groups can consist of top management, finance, research and development, purchasing, operations, and accounting.  The reality is that these other departments have a direct impact on the marketing department's plans and actions.  In order for these plans and actions to succeed, the "marketing concept" contends that all of these functions must be "thinking consumer", and they must all have bought into the the strategic marketing plan in order to work in harmony to provide customer satisfaction and value.

Top management can directly assist and fast track your plans, or they can stop them in their tracks.  Finance has a direct influence on your budget, and whether money is available for your strategic plans.  R & D has direct influence on product development (think what you are selling).  Purchasing, operations and accounting all influence staffing, media execution and how well you stay on budget.

So the key question is: how is The Company?  Have you taken a hard look at the relationships you and your department have?  How does the rest of the Company perceive you?  Have they bought into your strategic marketing plans?  Are there any conflicts, or relationships that need to be restored?

Take the next few days and sincerely evaluate The Company.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Strategic Marketing 101: The SWOT Analysis

My next post discussing the basics of marketing is the SWOT analysis.  A SWOT analysis is an essential part of any Marketing Plan.  It's best to include it early on in your situational analysis.  It may seem like a simple summation, but it's a great 30,000 foot view of the state of your business and the outside environment.

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Strengths are any characteristic of the business that may give it an advantage over it's competition.  Strengths can include internal capabilities, resources, and other positive factors that can help the business serve its customers and achieve it's goals.

Weaknesses are characteristics that may place the team at a disadvantage relative to it's competition.  Weaknesses include internal limitations and negative factors that may interfere with the performance of the business.

Opportunities are external chances to improve profits in the environment.  They can be favorable factors or trends that the business may be able to exploit.

Threats are external elements in the environment that might cause problems for the business or project.  They are unfavorable factors that can challenge the performance and profitability of the business.

The goal of a SWOT analysis is to match a company's strengths to attractive profitable opportunities in the market, while eliminating or overcoming any weaknesses and minimizing any threats.  The identification of SWOT's is extremely important, because subsequent steps in the process of the trategic marketing of a selected objective may be derived from the SWOT.  Users of a SWOT analysis need to ask and answer objective questions that will manufacture data for each category (strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats) and maximize the benefits to find a competitive advantage.

If you are a smaller business, and you have never done a SWOT analysis, I would really suggest that you go through this exercise.  Have multiple members of your team contribute to the lists in each part of the table.  Then example the list with your core management team or executive team and talk about each item as objectively as possible.

A SWOT analysis is an essential exercise when constructing a marketing plan for your business.  Doing it will probably open your eyes to factors internal and external that are influencing the long-term performance of your business.