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Once you’ve developed your marketing strategy, you should continue evaluating your business activities using a “Seven Ps Formula.”. Product, price, promotion, place, packaging, positioning, and people are the seven components. Products, markets, customers, and needs change rapidly, so you must continually review these seven Ps to ensure you are on track and achieving the best results possible.
Imagine yourself as an outside marketing consultant hired to help your company decide if it is in the right business at the moment. Consider questions such as, “Is your current product or service, or the mix of products and services, appropriate for the market and the customers today?”?”?
When your business is not performing well, you should become accustomed to assessing your business honestly and asking, “Are these the right products or services for our customers?”?”?”
Is there any product or service you offer today that, knowing what you know now, you wouldn’t provide today? Do you offer a better product or service than anything else available compared to your competitors? What is it? Could you develop an area of superiority? Should you offer this product or service at all in the current market?
Price is the second P in the formula. Establish the habit of continually examining and reexamining the prices of the products and services you sell to ensure that they are still appropriate to the current market. It may be necessary to lower your prices. You may also want to increase them. Several companies have found that the profitability of some products or services does not justify the resources and effort required to produce them. They may lose some customers by raising their prices, but the remainder generates profits on every sale. Would this work for you?
Changing your terms and conditions of sale is sometimes necessary. If you spread your price over months or years, you can sell far more than you do now, and the interest you can charge will more than compensate for the delay in cash receipts. Special offers and promotions can sometimes be combined with products and services. In some cases, you can include free extras that cost very little to produce but enhance the appeal of your prices.
If you encounter resistance or frustration in any part of your sales or marketing plan, be open to revisiting that area. Accept the possibility that your current pricing structure is not appropriate for the current market. Be available to the need to revise your prices, if necessary, to remain competitive, to survive, and thrive in a fast-changing marketplace.
In marketing and sales, the third habit is always to think about promotion. Promoting your products or services is possible by telling your customers about them and then marketing to them.
Changing how you promote and sell your products can dramatically impact your results. Even small changes in your advertising can result in an immediate increase in sales. An experienced copywriter can often increase the response rate from advertising by 500 percent by just changing the headline.
Every industry constantly experiments with new ways to advertise, promote, and sell their products and services. Regardless of the method of marketing and sales you use today, it will eventually stop working. Sometimes it stops working for reasons you know, and sometimes it stops working for reasons you don’t know. In either case, your marketing and sales methods will eventually cease to work, and you will have to come up with new sales, marketing, and advertising strategies, offerings, and approaches.
A fourth P in the marketing mix is where your product or service is sold. Establish a habit of reviewing and reflecting on the exact location where the customer meets the salesperson. Sales can sometimes increase rapidly after a company changes places.
Several different places are available for selling your product. Some companies use direct selling, sending salespeople to meet prospects face-to-face. Telemarketing is another way of reaching prospects. Catalogs and mail-order sales are also standard. A few companies also sell at trade shows or in retail stores. Some companies form joint ventures with other companies in their field. Manufacturers’ representatives and distributors are also employed. Companies may use several of these methods at the same time.
Each entrepreneur must choose the best location or place for the customer to receive critical information about the product or service needed to make a buying decision about that product or service. Where will yours be? How will you improve it? Could you offer your products or services elsewhere?
Packaging is the fifth component of the marketing mix. Make it a habit to stand back and observe every visual aspect of the packaging of your products or services from the vantage point of a potential customer. People form their first impressions about you within the first 30 seconds of seeing you or some part of your company. Sometimes small changes to the packaging or external appearance of your product or service can result in entirely different reactions from your customers.
Regarding the packaging of your company, your product, or your service, you should think about how the customer perceives your business from the moment he or she first contacts you through the buying process.
Packaging refers to how your product or service looks from the outside. In addition, it refers to the way your people are dressed and groomed. It would be best if you thought about your office, your waiting room, your brochures, your correspondence, and everything else about your company. It all counts. Nothing is insignificant. Your customer’s confidence in you is affected by everything.
As IBM started, Thomas J. Watson, Sr., concluded very early on that most of the visual contact customers would have with the company would be through IBM sales representatives. IBM knew salespeople would have to be credible to sell high-tech equipment, since IBM sold relatively sophisticated equipment. So he instituted a dress code and grooming code that became IBM’s strict set of rules and regulations.
Therefore, every salesperson was expected to look professional in every way. Their clothing conveyed professionalism and competence, such as dark suits, dark ties, white shirts, conservative hairstyles, shining shoes, clean fingernails, and everything else. “You look like someone from IBM,” was one of the highest compliments anyone could receive.
Positioning is the subsequent P. Develop the habit of thinking continuously about how your customers perceive you. What do people think and say about you when you are not around? What do people think and say about your company? What is your market positioning in terms of people’s words to describe you and your offerings to others?
According to Al Reis and Jack Trout, in the book Positioning, how your customers perceive and think of you is a critical factor in determining your success in the marketplace. According to the theory of attribution, customer perceptions of you are typically shaped by one attribute, either positive or negative. “Service” is sometimes referred to as “excellence.” “Quality engineering,” as with Mercedes Benz, is sometimes referred to as “service.” It might also be called “the ultimate driving machine,” as BMW. How deeply engrained that attribute is in the minds of your customers and prospects determines how readily and how much they’ll buy your product.
Develop the habit of thinking about how you can improve your positioning. Determine what position you’d like to have. How would you create the ideal impression in the hearts and minds of your customers if you could? Is it possible to get your customers to think and talk about your brand in that particular way in every customer interaction? If you want to be the best choice for your customers of the future, what changes do you need to make in how you interact with them today?
The final P in the marketing mix is people. Take the time to understand who is responsible for every element of your sales, marketing strategies, and activities, both inside and outside of your business.
It is astounding how many entrepreneurs and businesspeople spend such a great deal of time thinking about all aspects of marketing strategy and marketing mix, but then fail to realize that every decision and policy must be carried out by someone in particular, in a particular way. Choosing, recruiting, hiring, and retaining the right people who have the skills and abilities to do the job you need doing is more important than anything else.
In Good to Great, Jim Collins discovered that the essential factor applied by the best companies is that they “hired the right people and then got the wrong ones off the bus.” After hiring the right people, the next step was to “put the right people in the right seats.”
To succeed in business, you must develop the habit of determining exactly who will perform each task and responsibility. It is often impossible to move forward until you can attract and put the right person in the correct position. The best business plans ever created sit on shelves today because the people who developed them could not execute them.