Looking to take your business to the next level?
As the person responsible for the marketing of your organization, you must have visions for change and progress.
And while, “all change is not progress, all progress requires change.” For without progress, there is stagnation. Think Blockbuster, Kmart, Blackberry, Twinkies, and any other business or brand that does not innovate.
These businesses failed because they were marketing-driven (run by the marketing department) not market-driven (run by what the market wants, regardless of what the marketing department feels like doing.)
The fact is businesses today can’t afford to get complacent. Nor can marketing only be left to a department. Marketing is now, the whole company. Especially, when you think about how customers demand change, economics change, and competition dynamics change. Not being a business that’s responsive to change puts your sales in the same state: unresponsive!
If you’re ready to ensure company growth, and be responsive to market changes and influences, here are 5 ways to ensure your business grows through marketing innovation.
1. Invent a New Segment of the Market. I once heard a speaker talk about a study done by the WSJ on “Why businesses fail?” The study concluded that businesses where failing during that period of time because customers felt they were treated with an attitude of indifference. The speaker then identified that the opposite “continual extreme” of this, is to serve your customers to death. You can do the same for your product or service.
Mentally position your product or service at the “logical extreme” of some aspect of your product category. For example, if the typical product in your market is free but comes with expensive service, make your product expensive and with free service. If you’re making a commodity product, go for something either cheap or expensive, huge or tiny, green or not green, open or close, fake or real, fast or slow, risky or safe, new or classic. For example in the PC market, the growth in the past few years has been in high-end game machines and inexpensive machines that are designed to only be used while connected to the Internet.
2. Create a Sales Network to Replace Your Sales Funnel. Traditionally, in sales you create a funnel, with as many prospects as possible put into the top and eventually a customer coming out the bottom. Today, however, there is so much clutter and noise that it’s expensive to find new prospects.
So rather than concentrating on lead generation, focus on the fact that 70% of people trust recommendations from peers and friends. Start creating products and services that are so remarkable—worth making a remark about—that current and past customers can’t wait to tell their friends, family and peers about them. These customers now become your sales network and if you hand them a megaphone—a way to spread your message (contests, bumper stickers, business cards, coupons, special offers, organized classes that teach people, and etc.)—suddenly the warm leads multiply.
3. Market to the Laggards or the Early Adopters. With the Internet, customers are now information-empowered and can always find what they want for the lowest possible price. Growing your business therefore means the first step is to choose your market, either: laggards (clueless) or early adopters (smart). Laggards are customers who don’t know what they want and thus can be persuaded to want whatever you’re selling. Early adopters are customers who are seeking new information and can to be persuaded that what you have is special and therefore worth seeking out. Charging a premium price means you must choose your market, either its sufficient ignorance or sufficient knowledge.
4. Show How You’re Different. Marketing used to be defined as creating a product or service that appealed to the majority—an average buyer—then interrupting as many them as possible (with banner ads, outdoor media, commercials, direct mail, sales calls, etc.), hoping to convince a percentage to buy.
This is no longer effective because today’s consumers are armed with ad-blocking tools and technology that allows them to tune out any message that doesn’t interest them. You have to “earn” a prospects attention and the right to sell to them. This is only made possible if you have a compelling story and content that shows how what you’re offering is different and better from everything else that’s available in the market.
5. Sell the Story Rather Than the Product. Businesspeople make decisions based on logic, right? Wrong! In every product or service category, there is at least one brand that uses a story and content to convince people to pay extra for that product or service. For example I know a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant who sells for twice the times the average price because she has positioned her business as the moral doctor for companies who value the moral and health of their white-collar employees. Another example is that people pay up to $6 a quart for bottled water because (as the story goes) it’s “healthier” than tap water.
Recognize that growing your business or brand in any way requires more marketing. Marketing is the breaths of air of any organization. You keep breathing to stay alive.
The ongoing mindset is to think that what worked yesterday, does not necessarily work today. What works today may not necessarily work tomorrow. Finding tomorrow’s solution is satisfying tomorrow’s customer.
Question: What do you think? Can you use any of these marketing innovations to grow your business?
About the Author: Patrick McFadden is the owner and marketing consultant at Indispensable Marketing, a strategic marketing firm in Richmond, VA. We help small to midsize businesses get new or better results from their marketing efforts.