Setting yourself apart

Consider the four pillars of marketing to grow your success

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/11/2018 (1422 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Would you buy from you?

The answer we should all have is, “of course.” But, do you really answer “yes” every morning when you look in the mirror and ask yourself this question?

The reality is that you are not sure if you are actually closing 100 per cent of your possible sales. And to compound the situation, you may not really know how to measure this to improve sales. Marketing encompasses four main components — product, place, price and promotion. The sales function is part of the place component. By reviewing each of these four marketing pillars, you can better understand how your customers would answer yes to this important question.

Begin with an assessment of your product. Fundamentally, if your product or service is not highly sought, there may be trouble. Just because you have built that proverbial better mousetrap, does not mean that people will beat a path to your door or internet store. If you do not offer something more compelling than great service or friendly staff (your competitors likely offer the same thing), you will become a commodity, and selected exclusively on low cost.

When was the last time you spoke with your customers in detail about how your product was used, and what benefits people actually receive from using it? Have you seen this in action? Where is your proof? When a customer is selecting your product or service, they are also assessing the quality and knowledge of your staff, and the level of support provided before, during and after a sale.

Next is a review of the place component of your product or service. Place isn’t always a physical “place.” This is your distribution channel, which includes your sales force, other sales channels such as your physical store or plant, and any online sales platforms you may have. Again, there are some important questions to ask yourself. Have you actually tried to place an order at any of these touch points? Are you absolutely certain that each step is rock solid and no one will ever say no? Exceptional sales professionals ask insightful questions to uncover the true needs of the customer by getting the customer to talk about their situation. More importantly, they listen carefully for the answers to create the strongest possible connection between the problem your product or service is designed to address and the value-added solution it provides.

The third component to consider is your pricing policy. This is often overlooked, except when your customer says your price is too high. How do you know this for certain? Have you assessed the price of your product or service against your competitors? Have you considered the impact of market demand and industry supply? Do you actually generate cash from operations? How about your late payment and collection policies? Are these factors properly customer-focused?

The final component is a review of your promotion efforts. This is the marketing component that typically gets the most attention because it includes your traditional advertising, social and digital advertising, and any public relations activities that you may undertake. Have you ever reviewed all of your messaging for consistency and relevance? Corporate social responsibility activities are also included in this area. Do you have a structured corporate giving program that guides where you want to invest to make your company a great place to work and improve the quality of life in your community?

These initial questions should be carefully considered as the beginning of a marketing audit. Starting with great questions and applying them in a structured approach will help you uncover whether your organization is truly aligned for people to want to buy from you. Sales expert Jeffrey Gitomer famously stated that “people don’t like to be sold to, but they like to buy.”

Having confidence in your product or service, in the people that deliver it, and the messaging that you use, are all part of a customer’s buying process. When you have all these elements properly aligned, there is a much greater chance that your customers will select you when their need arises. If any of the four Ps are out of sync, then your chances of sales success are reduced.

Tim’s bits: Remember to keep the customer at the centre of all your decisions. Manage customer expectations within your operating environment to ensure you can profitably deliver what the customer expects. Business guru Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence, stated that “winners focus obsessively on their customers. Losers don’t.”

Do you consider the product, place and price together to help craft promotional messaging that works? After working through a structured review of how people buy from you, you are probably doing many things well. Create a plan to fill the gaps. You should now be able to look in the mirror and answer “yes!” to the question with pride.

Tim Kist is a certified management consultant who works with organizations to improve their overall performance by being truly customer focused. He can be reached at tim@tk3consulting.ca.

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