Marketing is the most important part of Business that needs to be considered even before the business is started, but often times people consider it at the end of production. When marketing is considered at the end of production, then there will be little or no profit at all. Your ability to sell out your products and at the prices you want is what determines a successful business from one that struggles. If you have started a business already and now realize you are not good in marketing, this article will expose you to the skills you need. It will show you the strategies you can apply to achieve profit in business and also the techniques needed to maintain regular flow of profit in business. The better you become in marketing, the more your business flourish. There are people that can sell almost anything by their prowess in marketing.
What is marketing?
It is the ability to attract customers to a product or service with the aim of providing the product or service that they need, at a price they are willing to pay; with the product or service provider making profit from the sales.
Going by the above definition, marketing should always lead to profit; but that is not always the case. The only constant thing in marketing is Customer satisfaction, other factors are dynamic. Once your customer is satisfied with your product or service, they keep looking for youanytime they are in need of it. If they are not satisfied, then you have lost your ability to market that product or service and it is a matter of time before the business will fail. I will come to customer satisfaction later.
In marketing, your customers are the most important people even before the employees and partners. A customer is anyone who is willing to pay for your service or product anytime they need it.
Steps to a successful marketing strategy
- Do a market research to learn about your customers behaviour, know what they need and bring out a product that solves their need. Know their purchasing power and their frequency of using the product you intend starting.
- Know your competitors and how the manage the customers: understand where your competitors are doing it wrong and try and do it right. Know the weak points of the competitors and capitalize on it. If they close their shops by 8pm, close yours by 10 pm. If they open by 8 am, Open yours by 5 am.
- Find out if there are enough customers to make the profit you want in both short term and long term.
- Get information about the kinds of products the customers want, the prices they love and are willing to pay for, where the customers are and where they usually buy the products and why they love buying from there.How often do they buy and at what price
- Treat the customers better than your competitors because happy and satisfied customers are a means of hidden promotion. When customers are happy with what they buy, they will advise their friends and families to buy from you and they will keep referring people to buy your products or service even without you knowing where the continuous flow of customers are coming from. This is an easy but regular means of promotion. Imagine, one customer will tell another and the next will tell another and before you know it, your product spreads like wild fire. Customer A will tell Mr. B and when Mr. B becomes happy with the product, he tells Mr. C. If one customer becomes unhappy or not satisfied, then the chain of growth and sales is broken and he stands as an opposition to your product. Do not belittle any customer no matter how small they appear because they can cause your business to fail in the long run. The way the happy customers spread the news of the product, so will an unhappy customer spray the bad news about your product. If it is possible, always call and apologize to any unhappy customer and if it is possible, you can refund or replace the product if the fault is from your company, else, you will keep hurting your customers and they will be gone for good.
The P-Strategiesof Marketing
- Permutation (calculation)
The above listed strategies of business marketing are vital to success and profit in business. I will be explaining one after another.
This refers to the item you are selling or the services you provide. This could mean selling of Broiler chickens, Eggs, Meat, or selling of Shoes, bags, clothes or body sprays. It is anything you intend selling out to gain profit. It can refer to a service offered such as running errands for money, driving, laundry, comedy, teaching, orblogging. You have to find out what product customers buy and what meets their need. People do not just buy things because they have money, but they buy things that meet their need. It is good you provide a service or product that meets the need of customers. Sometimes, if you provide what people are really in need of, you may not need promotion because people will come looking for it. Imagine you have a cure for HIV/AIDs, must you even advertise the drug? Just give one person and within 1 week, people will come flooding into your shop. Imagine you have the ability to turn any depressed individual to a lively person, people will hire you to make them laugh, which is the basis of success of comedians.
The product or service you intend selling should solve a problem of the consumer or should be better than similar existing products or services. There were social media before Facebook but it later became the largest social media. There were companies before Dangote, but he later became the richest man in African, there were computers before Bill Gates but he later dominated the world of Computers. There are services and product available today that needs someone that can make them better and it all depends on how you go about it. The next strategies will show you how to combine all to achieve success and dominate your product niche.
Another strategy is adding the correct price on your services and products that people are willing to pay for it and at the same time you are able to make profit from it.
The price of your products should cover for the production cost and should not be too much that it scares your customers away. Sometimes, when the price is too cheap, people see it as being fake or not genuine or counterfeit. There was a time some doctors were sponsored to administer Tuberculosis drugs to a village in Benue state, Nigeria; the drugs were free since they were provided by health organisations. But the doctors were surprised that the people were not willing to take the drugs because they believed that free things are not genuine. The people were going to a native herbalist who collects large sum of money from them and promises them that his drugs were very effective even though it wasn’t.
A man has been buying wine for 10,000 naira in Abuja, but traveled to Nasarawa state for a function and decided to get the same wine there; he was told the wine was 2,500 naira ( 4 times cheaper than what he normally buys),herefused buying from the shop because he thinks theirs was counterfeit.
There are people that cannot buy cheap items and there are those that prefers cheaper items. Knowing your type of customers will help you know the nature of your product and the price you can fix for the product. Sometimes, you do not need to make much profit, but if you can sell in large quantity, then you can make much profit. When the profit per product is 5 naira and you normally sell atleast 1000 each day, it means everyday, you make a profit of 5,000 naira. Comparing it with someone who has a profit per product of 5,000 but can only sell one in a month, who will make more money? So, fixing of price should be dependent on your customers purchasing power, their frequency of buying the item, the production cost, and the number of customers that patronize your product.
It is advisable you fix a price that will enable you sell more and at the same time makes it impossible for your competitors to make it cheaper without running at a loss. If you are dealing with customers that leave a flamboyant lifestyle, then increasing the price will help. It is good you compare how the customers behave when you lower the price and when the prices are high.
The nature of place where your customers are and the location of your business affects the profit you can make. You must find a way to get your products to your customers. This should be considered before you start a business. How close are the consumers from where your business is sited? How can you get your products across to them using the cheapest means possible? Even if it were a hospital, you must site it were people are, because even emergencies require the nearest hospital possible.
When selling things that are expensive, consumers would love it if you can directly distribute the product to them rather than them looking for their own means of transporting what they bought. Imagine you bought 1000 bags of poultry feed but you have to still pay for transportation again. By doing this to your customers, they can easily move to another producer who is willing to help them reduce the challenge of transportation. Always try as much as possible to reduce the stress a buyer or consumer has to go through in the process of getting your products. The less the stress, the more the chances they will come back again. Most times, producers feel they are not slaves to the consumers, but in real sense, a producer is like a servant to the consumer. The more you boost their pride and ego, the more they will buy even when they don’t want to buy. Make them happy and they will look for you no matter where you are and one of such ways of making them happy is by getting your services as close as possible to them. If you are into schooling, get a bus and move round their houses to pick their children; if you are into laundry, call them and ask if they have anything for laundry.
This is the act of ranking your products or services more than that of your competitors in order for the consumers to choose your own products. It therefore means that you must do things in a better way more than what your competitors are doing. Your price should be lower; your packaging should be more attractive and consumers must be aware that your product or service exists.
Steps to Promotion:
- Price:your prices should be cheaper than that of the competition if you are venturing into a business that has an existing market already. If you are the pioneer in the business, then the price should be made affordable. Price is the most important factor that increases the chance of a consumer buying your product.
- Quality:while still lowering the prices, you should not compromise on the standard of your products. No one wants to buy something only to regret later. If reduction of price will affect the standard, then you should not reduce the price. In the long run, the consumers will know that your products are standard and would prefer that than the competition.
- Branding/packaging:everyone loves attractive products. But what might be attractive to you might be unattractive to another one. You are not to please everyone in terms of packagingbut make your products presentable. It should look professional and lovely. Branding affects the price; when you packageyour products, it triggers a psychological price increase in the consumer. Imagine having a haircut without any otherbenefitand compare it with having a haircut and an additional anti-bumps cream and perfume poured on the hair, which will you pay more for? Imagine buying something and a normal polythene bag is used for wrapping compared with a customized bag? These are the things that consumers love.
- Advertising:This is the first step to let the public know about your services and why they should buy your products. In advertising, you must try to capture attention first, then you try to show the better quality of your services or products over preexisting similar services or products. You then make it as short as possible because people hardly pay attention for a long time. Without advertising, know one will know about your products and it will take an unnecessarily long time for people to know what you are selling. Advertisement could be done on Newspapers, Popular TV shows, High traffic websites with targeted customers, Radio, billboards etc depending on how big your business is and your target audience. If you open a new shop, sometimes you may need to play music that can attract people to see that there is a new shop in the neighborhood or you could decorate it colorfully in the night such that it looks different from others in the night so that it attracts attention. Advertisement is all about attention seeking in a way that the message could be passed across within seconds. Whatever type you intend using, just make sure you target the people you need and do not write much or talk much. If it is on a billboard, you know people are travelling and would not park to read the long sentences you wrote on the board. Make it short like “Make MONEY in 7 days” or “Buy 1 get 2” etc.
- Develop your communication skills:you will come in contact with different kinds of people in the course of doing business. It is recommended you try and adapt to people and talk to them in a kind way no matter how provocative they may be. Your ability to interact with people easily will give you an edge over your competition. Some producers have no manners. I have stopped patronizing some shops because of the manners of those selling the products. Most times, after few months, the shops are closed, not because I wanted them closed but because they keep disrespecting consumers and within a few months, people have come to know that they have no manners and the business goes down.
This is a free way of promoting your products or services and it a cheap way for marketing your products. It may be by word of mouth. Telling your friends about your new website; talking about your company in a conference or giving out T-Shirts with your company’s logo or making writing pen, Memos, etc and sharing to people will get your business the needed publicity and it is another good way of marketing. Printing of calendars and giving it out to customers make them feel important and will patronize your products. Marketing is very diverse and it depends on your prowess of winning people to your products. Publicity could also involve sponsorship of programs you know are not against the law and will help the society. When sponsoring, make sure your name and logo and other important aspects you need people to know about your company are mentioned and are placed in places where people could see it. This aspect of marketing could help you get contracts even from government because you are contributing to the society and not just for making of profit. You could sponsor programs such as free medical/health services to less privileged communities. You can also get food or relief materials to orphanages and camps of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). In all of these, make sure the public sees what you are doing. It is not supposed to be hidden because it is publicity to your company. Apart from the fact that you are helping out, your company too needs publicity.
Another marketing and sales skills you could learn is partnering with people with large following. There are certain people that can influence how people think in any community, society, state or country. These people are called “influencers“.Influencershave different names: celebrities (influence the entertainment industry); public figures, social media influencers, etc. Just get to know the industry that best suit your business and look for theinfluencersto partner with them. You can also partner with schools if your business is Education-related or you could partner with communities or government depending on what your business is all about. Partnership could be in the form of supporting financially or with consultation or with equipment or tools. In all partnerships, do not forget that you are trying to market your business and hence your name, logo or aim should be boldly written to ensure people see it. This can be in the form of writing or pictures embedded on the donated items or if it is financial, then your company’s name should be mentioned several times.
Partnership as a means of Marketing could also be with similar companies in the same industry who are willing to help out.
This involves combination of different variables together to further the growth of your business or re-arrangement of your techniques to meet the changing needs of consumers.
Marketing is not a one way process because you can never predict how people will react to changes. Circumstances, economy, needs,environment etc all influence how people buy products. It is therefore important that changes should be made and plans altered if it is found that what was earlier planned is not working as expected. Permutation is all about calculating and anticipating the likely behaviour of consumers and making changes accordingly. It is very vital to marketing because your ability to foresee what might likely affect your business and making the appropriate changes will go a long way in sustaining the business. Assuming you are intoPoultry farming, and you start out by buying feeds, you should be able to foresee that with time, prices of maize, soybeans etc may rise and hence the feeds may be costly. It is therefore wiser to formulate your own feed and also grow your own maize in order to have control over your product.
Another permutation could be that, you have been selling a product before the advent of the internet but now that almost everything is online, you fail to make appropriate changes and you still prefer the old way of buying and selling. This can greatly limit the profit you could make. Last year, I searched online to find a Popcorn machine shop around my locality but could not find any. I had to ask on a Facebook group before someone described the place for me. On getting to that shop, I told the man how he could use social media and website for promoting his business but I was shocked to know that the man has not heard of anything like a website before. It means therefore that anyone who starts selling Popcorn machine in the locality and who uses the internet very well will be able to make more sales than the other man. It is therefore good that you should be dynamic in business and move with the technology and the society which is also a technique in marketing.
Everyone needs to be respected, be it a child or adult. Your manners determines your patronage. I have earlier mentioned this but I need to emphasize it again. You MUST learn it for your business to grow. Being polite is vital and you could do that in this forms:
- greet your customers when the come in
- offer them a seat to sit
- smile while talking with them
- engage them in little conversation to make them know you care not just about your business but about them
- comment on their dressing such as: “I love your outfit”, “I like your hair style”, “Your wrist watch looks great”. This should not be done always because they may think you are just being fake. You should do it once in a while.
- another thing you could do is reduce the price once in a while for those that have been patronizing your shop for a long time.
- For a customer that comes with a little child and happens to buy much, you can buy like sweets or drink for the little child. This makes the customer happy.
In all you do while marketing, try as much as possible to satisfy the consumer, ALWAYS.
No matter the degree of marketing you do, profit can never be fixed and you cannot make it to continually increase. Profit making in Business is more like the movement of a pendulum; It may be high at some point and may be low at some other time and sometimes you may run at a loss. This is caused by certain factors beyond your control such as Environmental, Economic, Financial constraints of Consumers, Social and many more. However, if you keep records, you should be able to make insights and know that there are certain periods of the year that demand becomes high depending on what you are selling. If you sell ice creams, you should know demand become high during the hot season and if you sell meat, you should know demand becomes high during festive periods.
Marketing should therefore be intensified during the periods of high demand and records should be checked and analyse to see periods of low revenue returns and changes should be made to reduce cost. Spending money on advertising ice cream during cold season is a mere waste of time and resources.
Important Tips for Increasing Sales in Business
- Make your products seen: do not hide them. Children may like a certain sweet, biscuit or toys but they may not know the name. Putting the items where they children could see it makes them point the item to their parents. Also, some adults may not know the names of some products, putting it where they can see it helps them find it easily.
- Group similar products together: this makes it easy to find.
- Let them see the prices clearly
- The shop should always be clean and well ventilated. A conducive environment makes it welcoming for customers and it is also healthy because it prevents contamination of products.
- Be honest to your customers, say the bad and good benefits of a product. It makes customers to trust you. When they forget to collect change, always remind them when they come over again and refund it.
- Make them feel as if they are always right, it gives them a sense of worth.
- Always Thank them because they are doing you a favour no matter the service you are offering.
- Always be patient and answer their questions no matter how annoying it may sound.
- Know their names and call them with names. It makes them feel important.
- While serving one customer, you can be interacting with the others and tell them you will soon help them.
By doing this, your marketing skills increase and with time, you find out you have outgrown your competition and making more sales and hence more profit. Marketing is all about attracting the attention of the Consumer and Sales involve converting the attracted consumer into paying for the product. It is an art that needs to be learned and it improves with time and constant practice and improvement.