Eric Samson is the founder of Group8A, a boutique consulting firm focused on developing and executing integrated marketing and digital solutions for companies of all sizes.
Entrepreneurs have historically concentrated their efforts on three activities: sourcing, production and logistics. However, while improving the quality and the delivery of products and services to consumers remain important, they are not enough to ensure the success of a business. Approximately 50 percent of new companies in the U.S. fail within five years.
As the economic and technological landscapes evolve, companies cannot continue to assume that marketing plays an insignificant role in their business strategies and that their products or services can sell themselves. New forms of mass media--dispersed, user-generated and multidirectional--are increasingly replacing traditional, one-way communication channels. In the face of these trends, businesses need good marketing tactics to respond appropriately.
If you are a business owner, here are three specific reasons why you need to be more involved in your company's marketing, based on my experience as founder of a marketing agency.
Build Brand Awareness and Loyalty
Defining your brand is an important first step to any marketing plan. You have to have a clear vision about the kind of customer experience your business will provide and how it is better than the competition. It is also important to keep your brand consistent. One recommended approach to examining brand consistency is to survey employees from different departments regarding their perspectives on the company's brand and compare their answers.
McKinsey & Company discovered that when consumers make a decision about which brand to purchase, they go through an iterative journey that involves four stages:
- Enjoy, advocate, bond
During the first three stages, a consumer considers a brand, evaluates it based on peer input and competitor comparisons, and then makes the purchase. During the final stage, the consumer builds a more intimate connection with the brand through post-purchase research and touchpoints, and by acting as a brand evangelist if he or she is happy with the purchase.
This revealed that consumers are more susceptible to the influence of marketing during the "evaluate" and "enjoy-advocate-bond" stages. During these stages, it is word-of-mouth from friends, acquaintances and peers that largely motivates purchases. Instead of following in the footsteps of the many businesses that dedicate the majority of their marketing budget to the "consider" and "buy" stages, you should assign more marketing resources to the other stages to cultivate customer engagement and brand loyalty.
Expand Your Digital Footprint
The Internet is a major source of news and information for consumers, especially among younger generations. Companies must have an online presence in order to draw attention and sales. A useful and attractive website is a basic necessity: the website should be optimized for Google and other search engines, have clear navigation, contain engaging landing pages and also be mobile-friendly. These optimizations will make it easier for users to find relevant content. Be sure to also take advantage of free or low-cost online marketing tools such as Intercom, Moz, SumoMe and Unbounce.
According to Salesforce's 2015 State of Marketing report, for which Salesforce surveyed 5,000 marketers across the world, 38 percent of marketers plan to shift spend from traditional mass advertising to advertising on digital channels. This reallocation development suggests that many marketers believe advertising on the Internet produces greater ROI than traditional channels. The study also identified top areas for increasing marketing spend, with social media being the most popular.
Maintain Competitive Advantage in the Marketplace
For decades, marketers at General Electric (GE) merely played supporting roles in departments such as communications or sales support. It was not until 2000 that GE organized a marketing department and recognized that marketers could play a much bigger, more meaningful function in the corporation.
GE realized that marketing was a means to maintaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace; in particular, marketing would help the company respond to fluctuations in the economy and target new markets. Today, marketers at GE are evaluated based on eight broad capabilities: strategy and innovation, branding and communications, sales force effectiveness, new world skills, market knowledge, segmentation and targeting, value creation and pricing and commercial activation. These skills outline the possible scope of expertise and knowledge that marketing can bring to a business so that it can have a competitive advantage over similar companies.
Marketing facilitates a number of important business strategies, including targeting the right audience, attracting active buyers, fostering brand loyalty and getting ahead of the competition. If you want your business to grow and succeed, quality marketing is essential.