By James Bell
Whether you are a business owner or an accountant, you should be positively influencing your brand, products and services through marketing. Marketing is how you communicate with your clients to influence them either short or long term.
Really everything, an email, a check, an invoice is saying something about your company… And don’t forget the people! Think way outside your sales department for a second. The way your accounts payable office handles billing discrepancies speaks about your brand. This example brings up an important point. You have a brand and an image you are applying in your marketing even with vendors, with the IRS, with every entity you interact with whether it’s intentional or not and it defines you as much as your actual products.
When coming up with your marketing plan, of course you need to identify and segment customers first and foremost. Experts suggest you use a cluster analysis if you have volumes of data, or using a segmentation tree if you don’t have the data. Cluster analysis is a statistical grouping of similar customers where as a segmentation tree is an adapted decision tree. You can define not only what your current customers look like, but what you would like your future customers to look like.
If you are a smaller company, you should only have a few segments. Of course it’s nice to think “everyone” is a customer but the reality of small business is that you can’t afford it and you wouldn’t want to. Large companies may have upwards of 20 segments and that’s a serious undertaking. So if you find your company with 40 different customer profiles, you need to streamline your offerings and do fewer things better. These fewer things should be the offerings and products that you are really good at or that separate you from your competition. These are called your core competencies and you should know what yours are. Even a giant such as General Electric in 2009, during the financial crisis, had to switch focus and get back to their core competencies.
After slimming down and understanding who your customers are, then you need to cater to them. What are their needs? Options they want? Preferred method of communication? What does your customers cash flow and business cycle look like? These are all important questions! McDonald’s doesn’t schedule an appointment and then email you an invoice with payment terms when you try and order a egg mcmuffin right?
Marketing is the communication of your brand just as much as products and services. Don’t dismiss the little formatting and presentation details in your communication. Those little details paint your picture and this is a painting that is never finished yet always on display. I strongly suggest that once you put a plan in play, it needs to be updated. This includes keeping your thumb on the pulse of what your customer looks like and wants. Make buying your product as great as the product or service itself.
15 March 2020
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