Marketing is a great profession. I’ve worked in or with marketing teams for most of my career. From the outside, they are seen as the department that comes in late, parties every night and gets to talk about advertising at conferences in exotic places. For those in operations or finance, they don’t seem to be that serious; they just appear to be always having fun. I’m sure you’ve heard such comments yourself.
Well, as you yourself know, marketing IS fun, but it’s also a lot of hard work, often close to 24/7 on some occasions. So is all that hard work paying off? If you work in marketing, you certainly know the 5Ps and hopefully you also check them regularly for your brand. However, the problem with them is that when you find an issue that needs your attention, you don’t always know immediately what to do. So I suggest you answer the following seven questions instead. They all explain what to check and why. And if you can’t respond completely to each one, then perhaps you need to do a little more work and a little less partying!
Q1. Who are your customers?
I don’t mean just their demographics. I mean who they really are; what, where and how they use or consume your brand. And especially why. If you can’t give all these details about your customers, then you’re in serious trouble. See “12 things you need to know about your target customers” for more details on defining your customer persona. You can also download a free, blank template at C3Centricity.com/c3cmembers.
Q2. How are your customers changing?
Hopefully you answered Q1. without any hesitation – you did didn’t you? It’s great that you know a lot about your customers, but people change. Are you following how your customers are changing? Are you keeping up with them and their new needs and desires? Do you know the impact of the latest trends on your customers’ opinions and behaviours? Do you know how these trends will develop and impact the market in five, ten or even twenty years from now?
There are countless examples of brands that have disappeared because they didn’t keep up with the changing needs of their customers:
- Kodak who didn’t understand the impact of digital photography.
- Borders bookstores who didn’t get into eBooks.
- Motorola, once the leader in smartphones, who didn’t embrace new communications technology.
- Sony who resisted MP3 and lost the portable music player market that they had led for many years.
- Blockbuster who survived the transition from VHS to DVD, but failed to adapt to consumer demands for home delivery.
The easiest way to be ready for any future changes is to prepare for them, by developing future scenarios. (>>Tweet this<<) How many possible future customer changes have you already planned for?
Q3. What does your brand stand for?
I don’t mean it’s marketing identity or slogan; I mean how your customers, or your competitors’ customers would describe it, its image? Is it strong and consistent? Does this image align precisely with its identity or the positioning you want today? Do you follow changes in its image regularly? Do you adapt your advertising and promotions to strengthen its desired image and eliminate negative changes before they impact the image? Is it authenticated by your customers’ experiences with your brand? It should be a direct reflection of your brand’s (internal) identity and promise. (>>Tweet this<<)
You should be able to describe your brand in one or at most a couple of sentences, using the words and ideas you want it to stand for, like these:
- McDonalds offers “quick, convenient, family oriented and fun, casual dining.”
- Bic disposable pens, lighters, razors offer “high quality products at affordable prices, convenient to purchase and convenient to use.”
Q4. How are sales and distribution?
I don’t mean just the totals. I mean the local specificities. The regional differences and anomalies. Do you know why they occur? Do these differences result from cultural differences, alternative traditions or usage, historical reasons or just distributor practices?
If you don’t know why your brand is doing better in some regions than others, then you’re probably missing opportunities for growth. (>>Tweet this<<)
Q5. Do you know what your brand is worth?
I don’t mean how much it costs to manufacture or distribute. I mean how it is valued by the end user. How does its value compare to its current price? If you are not pricing it correctly, then you are leaving money on the table.
If you are priced lower than your customers’ perceived value, you could be asking for more. If you are priced above the perceived value of your potential customers’, you are stopping many new customers from buying into your offer, as they don’t think you’re worth it.
Either way you could be earning more and possibly selling more too. (>>Tweet this<<)
Q6. Are you using the right channels for communicating?
Many marketing plans are still just a rehash of last year’s, especially when it comes to advertising and promotions. With today’s huge array of media opportunities, both on and offline, it is important to choose the most appropriate ones for your customers.
If you answered Q1. completely then you will know which ones they are currently using most often, and if you are also able to answer Q2. you’ll know how these are changing or likely to change in the future.
Q7. Is your messaging consistent and complementary
Answering Q3. means that you know what you want to stand for and the image you want to portray. Image metrics will tell you which of them need to be boosted, depending upon the desired changes.
Do you want to attract new customers, support current customers, or develop your image in a certain direction? Appropriate analysis of your image data will give you all the information you need to adapt your messaging and strengthen the positioning you have chosen for it.
Next time you review your brand’s performance, why not use the above 7Qs rather than just the 5Ps? It will provide you with a clearer picture of your brand’s current and future development opportunities, and more importantly, will identify the actions you need to take to progress its growth.
If I’ve missed any important points that you check regularly for your own brand, please share your thoughts below by adding a comment. We’d love to hear from you.
This post includes concepts and images from Denyse’s book Winning Customer Centricity. You can buy it in Hardback, Paperback or EBook format in the members area, where you will also find downloadable templates and usually a discount code too.
The book is also available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBook and in all good bookstores. If you prefer an Audiobook version, or even integrated with Kindle using Amazon’s new Whispersync service, you’ll have to be patient just a little longer – but it’s coming soon!