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Alpha Notes

Marketing Hints for Clients of Alpha Associates

What Role Should Marketing Play In My Business?

Today’s business concerns are protecting our customer base, controlling expenses on all fronts, addressing the geometric growth in the cost of healthcare and other employee benefits, increasing output from current employees and nervously anticipating new taxes and other regulations from Washington, DC. Add to these the fact that we are now in the 3rd year of an economic recession, with little relief in sight. “So, in the middle of all this you want me to think about marketing and growth of the business? I think I will wait until some of the other problems are handled and then think about marketing.”

This reaction and attitude is very understandable and natural, considering today’s economic environment. I believe it stems from a limited view of what the marketing function is and how it works.

“We tried direct mail once with little results!”

“We redesigned our website two years ago but didn’t write any new business.”

“Our newsletter is now more user friendly, but we still don’t get much feedback.”

“We did a webinar last year, but it was a one-time event. Should we be using social networks to promote the business?”

In the marketing strategy and planning business we often repeat the phrase, “If you have no destination any road will take you there”. As in any discipline, random activities, without an overall marketing strategy, have little chance of significantly impacting your business in a positive way. So, how can a marketing strategy make a difference? The answer lies in the critical questions and issues a thoughtful and structured marketing strategy will address. Some of these are:

Market

  • How would I rate (evaluate) our current customer base for long-term success?
  • What new buyer groups or prospects should we be targeting? Which have the best potential?
  • How could these integrate with our current customer base, if at all?
  • Is our current account management protecting our customer base from the competition?
  • Are we keeping up with market changes?

The Competition

  • Who are our traditional competitors and how are they positioned vs. us?
  • Do we have new competitors or alternatives to us? Who/what are they and how are they positioned in the marketplace?
  • Is our industry changing in the delivery of products and services?
  • How are our competitors using technology to improve communications with their customers?
  • How are we positioned in the marketplace vs. five or ten years ago?
  • What is our natural differentiation from our competitors? What are the elements?

Marketing Program Elements

  • Has our product/service offering become stale?
  • What new products would be welcomed by our customers?
  • Where are we on the innovation scale?
  • How does our pricing stack up vs. market conditions?
  • Is value pricing an option for us?
  • Are the economics of our business changing? If so, how should we adjust?
  • Does our sales model make sense in today’s environment?
  • Are our sales compensation packages still timely and motivational?
  • What is the most effective way to promote our business?
  • Is our web presence effective?
  • Should we be using the social networks in some way?
  • Is it time to bring our company image up-to-date?

I could continue to list questions that are key to developing an effective marketing strategy for your business, but you get the idea. Marketing is a strategic function that should be part of your annual planning process. Try some of the above questions at your next senior planning meeting. It could yield some interesting results and start you down the road to a successful marketing strategy for your business.