Posts Tagged ‘competition’

Fundamentals of Marketing and Sales

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Most of my adult life, I’ve marketed specialty plastics and chemicals to technically sophisticated business customers, while my wife’s family has earned a nice living in insurance sales and marketing. Now, there’s a world of difference between health and life insurance policies – and the mostly Medicare age consumers who buy them – and the high performance polymers used in innovative medical and electronic devices, cars and airplanes, building materials and green energy systems.

But … I’ve learned that, deep down, the fundamentals of marketing and selling are just that – fundamental – regardless of the product or service you’re selling. Using my Four Fundamentals to guide your marketing and selling plans can pay big dividends, whether you’re selling insurance or plastics, cars or machine tools or houses, dental care or home remodelling. What are those fundamentals?

1. Know WHO your potential customers are and WHAT makes them tick, then FOCUS on the segments that fit you best
“You can’t be all things to all people” is especially true in business. Focus your attention and resources on the people who are most likely to appreciate and pay for what you offer. Make sure you understand what turns them on and turns them off, where they go to find offerings like yours, and who they listen to when they make decisions about your product / service.

2. UNDERSTAND the problems and opportunities your customers face (especially the ones they’re unaware of)
Few of your potential customers (even the most experienced and astute) really understand how their life or business situation could be better. It’s up to you to know the ins-and-outs of their situation so well that you can paint a convincing picture of the better future they could have if they choose you.

3. DESIGN YOUR OFFERING (your product or service plus all the other ways your customers interact with you) to best help them address the opportunity or problem
These days, the ‘better mousetrap’ is often not the mousetrap itself but the training, services, support and friendly accessibility that surround the steel springs and trigger device itself. The more effectively your offering solves yohavur customers’ problem, the easier it is for them to understand the ways you will make their life better – and the easier it is for them to find and do business with you – the more successful you’ll be.

4. Make sure you STAND OUT from your competitors, in ways that make a difference to the people who’s buying decisions determine your success
Not long after your customers start to prefer your new and improved mousetrap, your competitors will too. Don’t waste energy complaining about copycats, but focus instead on making sure your customers have good reasons to spend their $$$ with you instead of the competiton. (Just please, please, please resist the temptation to start down the seductive but often dead-end road of a price war.

I’ve grown to expect one or the other of these reactions —
“Holy smoley! It’s too much! How can you expect me to ever know and do all that?”
— or —
“I’ve been doing this all my life, so I know all I need to know about my customers and competitors.”

Truth is that both of these reactions are wrong. The market knowledge and the actions that underlie my Four Fundaments are within the reach and resources of any business – large, small, individual. And even the oldest and most experienced business dog can learn some valuable new tricks by taking a fresh, unbiased look at their marketplace.

Wondering how to get started? A great way is to engage a consultant, for example: