Successful Marketing Strategy must start with evaluating and interpreting the big picture!
Let’s start with some important principles of marketing strategy:
a. “Marketing strategy is an organisation’s strategy that combines all of its marketing goals into one comprehensive plan. A good marketing strategy should be drawn from market research and focus on the right product mix in order to achieve the maximum profit potential and sustain the business.” Source BD Business Dictionary
b. “Business success is defined as a company which, behaving ethically and legally, creates value, independent of the owner’s efforts. This usually results in a sustained stream of profit, and a positive market value, representing the anticipated future profits.” Source – Richard Russell
c. “The big picture is the most important facts about a situation and the effects of that situation on other things.” Source Oxford Dictionary
These three principles are the guiding premise to support my claim. Only a big picture focus can drive marketing and business success.
Evaluating and interpreting the big picture:
The expression ‘the big picture’ can seem vague or hard to define. So it is important to set some parameters when starting the planning process.
The first question to ask is what is our market?
The answer could be retail. It could be energy. It could be medicine. It could be professional services or it could be many other things. The important thing is to be specific. Be very sure of what market you’re in for the purposes of planning. It doesn’t mean that over time it won’t change. A good business will use big picture planning to diversify over time. However, building a good business comes from being very clear on the market you are starting out in. Applying the big picture means understanding that market from every possible view. Evaluate and interpret the market. Understand the pressures on it. Seek out opportunities in it. Determine how they will impact on your business. Assess what you can do to use issues and opportunities in the market to your advantage. Many of your competitors will not be doing this.
The next question is where is our market?
Your answer could be the whole world. It could be the ‘Asia Pacific’. It could be Australia wide. It could be NSW or it could be local to your suburb or community. There are three ways to assess where to position your business.
1. No matter where your market operates, what is the potential for business growth and success?
2. Where in your target market can you compete and be successful, given your resources and finances?
3. If your resources and finances place limitations on where you can operate, how does that affect your potential to succeed?
For example, many markets today are global. Let’s assume a business is thinking of opening in a global market. What resources are required to service the demand for your product and or service, globally? How much will a global operation cost? Are the revenue projections such that you will realise a return in an acceptable time frame? What are the risks in relation to cost versus benefit?
At this point, you may be able to start to quantify cost and benefits. However, the risk may not be as clear. This is why the next question forms part of evaluating and interpreting the big picture.
Source GCube Insurance
The next question is, who else is in the market and what are they doing?
There are a number of common forces that act in any market. It is important to know them and to assess them. The common forces are:
- Buyers or customers
- Competitors; those who exist and how hard it is for others, to enter the market?
- Regulations / Government
Once you have defined the common forces in your market you need to assess them based on their power.
Power and the existence or lack thereof determines risk.
The power of your customer will have an impact on the price you can charge for your product or service. If your product or services is an essential service with high demand, you have the power and can charge accordingly. Alternatively, if the customer has a significant choice and the item is not an essential item, the customer has the power. Understanding the buyer’s power will help you equate the risk potential to your revenue and profitability.
These same principles apply to the power of supply. To determine the power of your suppliers, you need to consider their pricing. Does it influence whether you can produce and sell your product or service at a profit? If the supplier fees prohibit your ability to sell profitably, then you won’t have a successful business.
Know the power of your competition. Never underestimate this. In Australia for example, there are many markets that are dominated by large enterprises. In telecommunications, you have Telstra, Optus and Vodaphone. In banking, you have the big four banks. In groceries, you have Coles, Woolies and Aldi. In each of these industries, there are niche’s where business can be carved out. However, you need to understand that these large corporates are driven by growth and maximising shareholder wealth. If you choose to operate within a niche, be aware of where these organisations will push for growth next. They will focus on industries or niches that are profitable
If you’re in an industry where you are the market leader, be aware of who can enter the market. Be on the watch for new players. Remain focused and innovative, do not become complacent. There are many tales of market leaders who were complacent and are no longer with us today. A classic example is Kodak. One must ask, who was responsible for their marketing strategy and how could they have got is so wrong?
In business, it is important to understand the power of government. If government and regulations play a big part in your industry you must plan to have a voice at that table. You may need lobbyists and PR specialists to help. Unanticipated change can be very damaging. Therefore, in a highly regulated industry, don’t leave anything to chance.
If your marketing strategy doesn’t consider the power of technology you are already behind the eight ball. Our industry of marketing is a perfect example. We have never been under more pressure to keep abreast of marketing technology. The communications mediums in existence today are vast and varied. There are new mediums emerging all the time. To compete, we need to be the best at using marketing technology. This will determine the value our business brings to our target market.
The environment is a broad term. Within your planning, the environment can mean many things. When I plan I like to consider the economic climate. For the most part, it is beyond my control. However, if I can anticipate economic change it I can have a positive impact on mine or a client’s business. The environment has a lot of power. This is because it can be very hard to anticipate. Fiscal policy, free trade agreements, wars or natural disasters are all examples of the environment. All can have devastating consequences. In your planning, if there is any chance environment could impact on your business, what are your contingency plans?
I describe marketing strategy development as it relates to the environment as a game of snakes and ladders. Your role is to identify as many ladders as you can. Similarly, your role is to try and avoid every snake.
GAME – SNAKES AND LADDERS
The Key Takeaway:
Marketing strategy is complex. It is comprehensive. It requires a ‘big picture’ perspective. Everyone in business is focused on success. It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO of Microsoft or just starting out on your own. The principles of planning for success requires a big picture perspective. It needs to form the basis of all your planning.
About The Author:
Joan MacDougal is the CEO of Macrison. She is the founder and owner of this innovative and original marketing company. Prior to Macrison Joan held senior roles at both American Express and Telstra. With 30 years of front-line marketing, advertising and communications experience Joan brings honesty and perspective to her views on better marketing, communications and advertising. Visit Joan’s website www.joanmacdougal.com to get to know Joan a little better. For more information on our Services click here Macrison Services