How great marketing drives sales
Part one - Understanding the pivotal role marketing plays in laying the groundwork for prosperous business ventures.
Marketing’s role in business success
The success of any business begins with its sales and marketing efforts. Without a strong marketing foundation, your sales teams will struggle to reach their targets and drive revenue growth.
The marketing operation should take the lead on what is being sold, the market sectors within which you operate, what the price points should be and how your products or services reach your target market. Many managers think that the marketing function is purely PR, graphic design, or an advertising campaign, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Most SMEs have a sales department, but very rarely a fully operational marketing department. Many companies will outsource marketing, which is a proactive option, as long as they understand your market landscape, and what you are trying to achieve with your business activity.
We see many examples of companies with great products and ideas which, despite having a great sales team, are unable to achieve the revenue they expect because they have poor marketing leadership or direction. You can’t simply rely on supply and demand to drive your sales if you have a product or service that your prospective customers do not know exists. So how do you bring this to market?
Apple’s unique approach to success
Great entrepreneurs often come from a sales and marketing background. For example, Steve Jobs the founder of Apple was a great marketeer and salesman, every product that Apple developed and produced was wildly different from the competition.
Apple moved away from the competition by offering something new and completely different from the PC, which the world was buying in amazing numbers from IBM and others. Apple gave the world the Macintosh, the first fully integrated computer, screen, keyboard, and drive system. At first, potential customers viewed this new development as perhaps too technologically advanced, but once the Mac was demonstrated, customers quickly changed their minds.
Steve Jobs went on to introduce the world’s first smartphone. Apple developed the idea and launched it to the world. They did not need to have a large sales team to sell the iPhone, because Jobs and his team developed a marketing plan which created a desire in consumers for something different. He planned to develop products that people would buy but did not necessarily know what they wanted or needed. To this day, no other company has created market disruption in the same way as Apple. When asked what his business goal was, Jobs simply answered “We create products that people use, they then tell friends and family about our great products and that is how we sell”.
The marketing-driven sales approach
Great lessons can be learned from large corporations, so let’s look at the role of marketing and how it should drive sales. The priority is to establish the market sector, sector size, sales potential, active sector companies, and competitor evaluation, this data then provides your market profile. The next part of the equation is to develop your products and services at a competitive price point to match the intended market.
If you have great products but no marketing analysis data, then you have no vision of the market concept, size, or potential. Without this information, you cannot build achievable business goals and targets. With a detailed market profile, you can start to create a strategy and implementation plan that will match your first objectives and provide the sales operation with clear data to help them build sales channels and sales targets.
Once you have a draft strategy, before you go to market, you need to establish your brand. Your brand is not just your logo and company colours, but the audience’s perception of your business. Your brand is an essential part of your marketing activity and must always be evolving to match both your existing and potential customer sectors.
Your company culture also contributes to your brand. Your team needs to fully understand your business vision and what is needed to be successful. Poor branding can kill your business quickly. Good branding reflects who you are, and what you do, but more importantly what is your total value proposition that will make customers want to use your products or services?
Once the branding and audience perception are established, you need to develop your public relations (PR) and marketing communications strategies, from media relations, social media and your advertising. You also need to develop the sales tools to help your team sell what is within your products or services.
Many companies fail to provide sales teams with the right sales tools, so sales can become difficult and frustrating. If you have the tools in place and your team is fully versed in the value proposition and trading benefits, this will all help to obtain the desired results needed.
Crafting a path to success
In summary, a strong marketing operation will prepare the road ahead for successful sales strategy, planning, and implementation. Marketing data is critical, and long term it will pay dividends because you will know the vital statistics of your target sectors, and your market profile will dictate your required sales activity and vision.
Once all the right elements are completed and in place, the business can start to become customer-centric, providing products or services that will enable your business to have sustainable revenue, and at the same time, building growth and increased company value for the future.
In part two we will look at the methods used in advertising, and how the “buy” message is transmitted to your audience.
This is a guest blog which contains the views of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of the IoD.