Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at promotion, pricing and place – three out of the four elements of the marketing mix. The final ‘P’ is arguably the most important, as without this you don’t necessarily have a business. And that is “Product” (or Service).
If you remember from last week I talked about how important it is to look at the blend, or mix, of all of these elements.
Each element of the marketing mix has a direct impact on the other three. What starts this process off however is the Product. When you first have the idea for your business then you decide what it is you are going to be creating, selling and/or providing. Whether this is a professional service (for example marketing consultation and delivery, business coaching, clothes alterations, or art workshops) or a product (holidays, cookery training courses, sewing classes, stationery or your wood carvings) comes down to what you are most passionate about and what it is that you want to be basing your business around.
Then comes the next stage: that of finding out what your prospective perfect clients may want. And really, your product provision is down to what your customers or clients want. Part of the definition of marketing is to “Identify and anticipate your customer’s needs….”, and this is where I see many a business owner come unstuck.
They want to sell product or service X, are very passionate about it, think everyone ought to have it….but it doesn’t sell. Their potential customers are just not interested in it.
The easy solution to this is to do your market research. By finding out what the market (i.e your customers) want and need, then designing your products and services around the answers to what you find is the surest way to success in your marketing, and ultimately your business.
I have covered market research many times on my blog and in any talks I give and workshops I run, but you are essentially looking at two types of market research:
- Industry level (Secondary Research)
- Your customers (Primary Research)
You want to be finding out what the market as a whole is doing and what it is forecast as doing.
For instance, you sell left handed bottle openers which you think are marvellous. Your industry research will tell you how many left handed people there are around…and then how many of them need bottle openers (market size), and whether that market size is growing or contracting, what other products there are around to serve that market, whether this market thinks there is a need for left handed bottle openers, what their feelings are around having a specific left handed bottle opener…and so on. Your market research will also show you untapped opportunities within this market.
Having got the lay of the land market wise, you are likely to have a load of questions that relate purely to you and your business. These could be around whether people want to buy or hire your bottle openers, the colours they prefer, whether they want to buy them in a shop or have them delivered by mail order. What else would make their lives easier?
OK, a left handed bottle opener is maybe not the most sensible of ideas (although if you see it rocketing in shops in a few months time, you heard it here first!), but apply these principles to your own business. In what ways would your potential customers like to ‘consume’ your products or services?
Don’t forget that you can interchange between products and services. For instance if you’re a coach of any kind, then you can put together physical products around your area of expertise; you don’t just have to see your clients one on one. A very talented local artist I know now has a range of home wares with her unique designs on. If you sell “widgets” then maybe you can add consultancy to your business.
This all boils down to the ways in which your perfect customer or client wants to receive or consumer your product or service. And ultimately you will only find this out by asking them and then adjusting your Product (and/or service) offering accordingly. It may well be the same product at its based but packaged differently for different markets.
When you next visit a supermarket, look at their own brand range of foods: from the basic/saver ranges, through to a mid range and then an upmarket range. Look at their price points, their packaging and the imagery that they use across the three levels. Supermarkets are brilliant at supplying the same product to three different groups of market and addressing the needs and wants of each of those markets. Ridiculously, the basics range often come out at the top of blind taste tests against the premium end of the range!
So, getting your Product offering right is down to initial and then ongoing research. Different product types will need different Price points with different Promotion, and then different routes to market and locations (Place). It all comes down to research and planning.
Marketing should never be seen as a quick fix; sure there are tactics you can put in place to boost sales on occasion, but underneath it all should lay a well researched, well considered and well planned approach to what you are selling and how. When I see business owners fail at their marketing, it is because they miss out this stage. When an otherwise successful business plateaus (it happens more times than you think) then I will look at each element of the marketing mix in detail; sometimes a fresh approach in one area of it will push that business on wards and upwards quite dramatically.
If you feel that you need to look at your marketing mix, please do book a free Marketing Insight session with Kim to see how you can unlock the potential and profit that will sky rocket your business.
Dedicated to your success as always,