Marketers, Marketing executives everywhere, it’s time to ask the right questions.
The new normal as we have come to term this season of forced restrictions and lockdowns and its associated demerits define for us new demands to our work as marketers, new demands on what tools we continue to work with, what pages in our playbook may require updating, and even newer demands on what future-proofing techniques we must quickly acquire in the present to avoid the unforeseen, again.
In short, what is the Marketer’s role in ensuring relevance in methodology and effectiveness despite the changes in global communication and media consumption patterns in the wake of this pandemic?
Truth be told, we must understand that with every new wave of change, the bedrock of foundation theories we garnered at the early steps of marketing persists. I theorise that to better understand the future, to make sense of our current reality, and learn from the past, a visit to these foundational theories is expedient even more now than ever.
Stay with me as we explore these foundational theories, that eventually lead us to ask the right questions. The very questions that begun it all, and within which the new Pandemic age marketer can still hold his merit in this changing scape.
What must the marketer do?
It is common knowledge by now; but to better understand marketing, one must first understand the concept of the marketing mix and the importance of target markets.
For the sake of the non-marketing reader, the marketing mix may best be described as involving the creating of a mix for a specific group of customers on whom the marketer has determined that the company should focus its marketing efforts.
And this group of customers is defined as the target market. It is pretty simple to follow; The marketer defines a mix of specific people to target effort, and these people are termed a target market.
The target market is therefore identified as having the best potential to enable the marketer (and their company) to achieve its goals in terms of revenue, influence, growth, profit, market share/reach, and other key areas relevant to the business model of the company.
As may be expected (and as common knowledge as this may sound), no business can meet the needs of everyone or the entire market (though some may try); therefore, a company must choose the segment of customers it wishes to serve. This is called target marketing and ultimately serves as the first step towards the success of the marketer’s objectives.
Where does the marketer start?
The marketer is a discoverer within his target market. The target market presents a sea of opportunity that the marketer must wade through, paddle, and ultimately secure a catch defined to his product fit. The marketing mix is the perfect tool to achieve this target market-product fit since it begs the right questions.
Let us take a look at the components of the marketing mix and what relevant questions we can ask as marketers. For some of you, this may bring back a lot of memories, especially from your early career days. May we dive in:
What is the Product? The product is simply a good or service being offered to the target market. Yes, short, and precise. However, this can be a new product or improvement on an existing product. For you, as a marketer, this is your most important question. Frankly, for any field of engagement, in whatever career sphere, it remains the best approach to problem-solving and solution-finding.
Next, what are the right questions to ask?
Firstly, define the product or service functions:
What is the brand name?
What does it do?
What are the physical appearances and features?
What is the quality, of packaging, of service?
What is the guarantee, etc., etc.?
Secondly, Define the relationship between the target customer and the product or service functions:
Does the product or service offer what consumers need and want?
How, where, when, and why is this product or service being used?
What value does it provide?
Is this product or service better than the competitors’ product or service?
The rabbit hole of inquiry is limitless, and the marketer’s curiosity should be equally insatiable. Posing the right questions means receiving the right answers for defining your Market Mix for effectiveness.
What is Promotion? A popular marketing textbook defines it as including all of the activities that marketers undertake to inform current consumers about the benefits and merits of the products or services and to encourage potential customers to signup, patronise or secure these products or services.
But Promotion is a large branch of marketing in its respect and should be treated as such. This multipronged nature of promotion means that it covers aspects of Sales, Advertising, Sales Promotions, Public Relations (PR) and Communications, Direct Marketing, diverse online Communications, be it organic, paid, or earned, even to Personal selling and branding.
To deep dive into promotion would require another piece, which this write-up will not permit. Preferably another episode in the “The Laws That Work” series will expand on it.
What then are some important questions to ask?
Primarily, all marketer enquiries should seek out which channels are essential to the product, such as:
Where are all the valid and potential channels we could market your product or service?
What are the channels our target market is in and frequents?
Are there channels that do not make sense for your goods or services, and can we skim them out?
Are there dormant channels with potential for attracting the target market?
The channels are the avenues. They are the defined paths of access to the target market where the promotion will ride on. Channels are the lifeline. Utilise them excessively.
How do you define Place? Well, Place is known as the channel where the consumer can access the product or service, or the other channels that direct attention to that place. It is important to know where your target market is to identify the ideal places to make it available. Again, here you notice the mention of channels -very important.
The next bit: What Questions to Ask?
Product and Brand placement enquiries:
Where does your product or service need to be?
At what time should this product or service be where it needs to be?
How do you ensure your brand is in front of your target at a time that will influence their purchasing decision?
Are there new channels that could expand your reach (such as with e-commerce or online)?
The best Definition I found for Price is this: Price is the amount the consumer must exchange to receive your offering. Simple huh? Yet extremely concise, and fitting. What you offer is that service or product that the consumer desires.
The goal of every company is to find a competitive price (a price by which it may best competition, retain a customer, yet for which that consumer will pay while making a profit). The pricing strategy implementable can include discounts and offers and enticing offers to boost value and ultimately secure that sale.
Predominantly Questions around pricing have to do with the strategy to entice a sense of value for the prospective buyer. Here are a few to ask yourself as you develop your pricing strategy:
How much are consumers willing to pay?
What is the pricing model?
What are the promotions or discount models (such as markdowns, bundles, or free-/premium)?
As you and your team answer these, you simultaneously build a competitor report to see where your product or service fits on the pricing spectrum. Your product or service value no matter how promising will make no impact should it fall outside the target market’s purchasing strength. A critical mistake many new entrant companies make when developing their pricing strategy. Do not be like them.
My background in Quality Management means that I come by this term in the line of my work quite frequently. Everything runs by a process, which in turn is made up of many subprocesses known as Procedures.
In like manner, the Marketers’ dictionary says this of Process: A Process is the compilation of actual procedures and methods involved in providing (successfully or otherwise) the product or services that are being delivered.
Questions to Ask:
What are the step-by-step processes to get the product or service from one point to the other?
Are they delivered on time?
Is this delivery as per expectations?
What is the structure for assessing their effectiveness?
Is there appropriate communication with the consumers about what to expect with the delivery of service or status?
If no, how is this addressed?
Does this need a definition? For your sakes, yes. I will make no assumptions. You and I are people. The target market is people.
People are the market to which we intend to sell our offering. People may also refer to those who interact with the consumer and play a part in the service experience.
Your focus then is two-pronged, on the numerical values and the demographic distributions.
Because your consumers’ do not make decisions in isolation, it implies that even your employees, friends of the consumer, and those in their sphere of influence/contact will also be people. These all can have a very important influence on consumer decision-making and brand perception. Their influence cannot be overstated. Your Marketing strategy should factor in ALL People.
Some Questions to Ask:
What is the intended market?
What is the population I intend to target?
From that market, how many people need what I am offering?
How many are already buying from a competitor?
Who are all the people who are involved with and will add benefit to the product or service, such as salespeople, employees, customers, management, customer service, or delivery people?
How many people will be interested in buying what you have to offer?
- Physical evidence
This may be the easiest definition to memorise: Physical evidence refers to the experience of using the service or product.
This is not necessarily a ‘physical’ product per se. The offer may be a service or virtual, but here the focus is what physical aspects help the consumer visualize or understand what they are getting? An example might be a boat ride. A boat ride is an experience but what support material is provided to explain this experience to the consumer? This is where physical evidence is most apparent. It seeks to answer this question of visualising.
Another important aspect of the experience could be the physical environment. This could include elements of ambience, such as lighting, décor, smell, sound, music, climate, equipment, or perhaps the offer is a restaurant, in which case, what are the physical aspects that make up the entire experience?
What are Questions to Ask:
What are the physical elements that are associated with the product or service directly?
What are the physical elements that are associated with the product or service indirectly?
How can these physical elements give the consumer an understanding of what they are getting?
In recent times, there has been an introduction of an eighth element for establishing the Market Mix. Though not originally a part of the initial 7, the newest element Partnership has recently gained importance, especially for online businesses.
What then is Partnership?
Partnerships are the strategic brand collaborations between a product or service with a non-competing product or service. Keyword: NON-COMPETING. You cannot be looking to partner with your chief rival. That would spell sabotage.
Remember, that partnerships are becoming increasingly important in the overall marketing mix, specifically for online business especially in this age of the new normal.
What Questions then should the marketer ask himself? Below are a few:
Are there other brands where my product or service offering can be an extension or enhancement of theirs?
Is there potential for the mutual benefit of increased awareness and sales?
How do these brands align with the current strategy of the company?
Is this a long – or short-term partnership?
How will we evaluate the success or otherwise of the partnership?
As marketers, we are uniquely positioned to provide luminance and direction to brand strategy. Nothing advances globally without marketing, be it organic, word of mouth, viral, or organized (which is where most of us operate).
If the new normal is to become our every day, then arming ourselves with the right tools is a no-brainer and returning to the very beginning presents us with a sure guide to attain this normality.
Should you be in need of more direction regarding your organisation’s marketing strategy, please do reach out to me via email; [email protected]. Our team of experts will rein you in on a solution in no time!
Marketers, Marketing executives everywhere, must make it a habit to ask the right questions.
Samuel Edward Koranteng is excited about processes; be it in safety, operations, quality, and compliance, within aviation and beyond. His professional efforts over the last six years have been in delivering safety enforcement and compliance within the African sub-region (spanning Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire), Accra (Ghana), Lagos (Nigeria) and Lomé (Togo) for the aviation industry.
An excellent and articulate communicator and writer, Samuel writes on marketing, business and workplace ethics for career success.
Reach Samuel on:
Cell: +233 275981531 [WhatsApp] Email: [email protected]