Businesses often confuse the two terms of ‘Sales’ and ‘Marketing’, believing that marketing will bring in the sales. This, however, is of course wrong. Where marketing costs money, sales is the one bringing money in, and after all, isn’t the definition of a sustainable business receiving more money that is going out? Let’s explore this concept so that we can come to a conclusion of a healthy relationship between sales and marketing so that when money does go out to marketing, it is efficient and effective. By Carla de Klerk, MEDO Editor-in-Chief
The first thing to consider when looking at your business is “The What”. What is it that you are selling, be it a product or service? What is it that you do? How do you do it? What does it take for you to do it?
“The What” is an encouragement to look at your business holistically, and therefore becoming an expert on the topic. Look at your costs. All your costs. This includes the basic costs such as rent and utilities, but also those that many often forget such as airtime, petrol, transport and stationery. All small businesses need to sit down and start making lists as to all the costs that go into to putting out that product or service. Only when you know the minimum cost to you to deliver, can you work on a minimum price for you to make a profit. Remember, the goal is to get in more than you are putting out…
Costs that are a bit more difficult, but no less important to calculate is that of time and risk. Take the example of an entrepreneur in the clothing manufacturing industry. If there were only one person on duty having to deliver 500 tracksuits, there will no doubt be long hours of overtime work. Then add the scenario that the industrial sewing machine breaks. What then? The cost of time and risk needs to be calculated into the cost, besides the fact that you need to make more than you’re putting out, it all needs to be worth your time, right?
Now you know your product, so you move on to “The Who”. Who are you selling to? Why are you selling to them? Have you identified a specific target market? Is your target market needs or commodity-based?
I met an entrepreneur, let’s call him John, a while ago that builds canopies for bakkies (trucks). He was incredibly proud about the fact that he was able to produce the canopies for much cheaper than any of his competitors. The problem he faced, however, was that he was sending out quotations to areas such as Bishopscourt (traditionally a very wealthy neighbourhood) that corresponded to his production price, thinking that his cheap quote will draw hordes of customers. Contrasting to his expectations, his quotations sent out to Bishopscourt always came back with a negative response with the comment: Product is too cheap.
The lesson that can be taken away from this case study is basic: Know your customer. Each area, community, group, neighbourhood is a different target market. Different targets have different expectations regarding price and quality. After all, a millionaire in Clifton and a small business owner in Khayelitsha are two very different people with different abilities and needs. Entrepreneurs need to know exactly who they are serving, and they need to know and understand that target market very well. Otherwise they may attract or push away the wrong customers. John, for example did not know his customer, and because of that they did not want to do business with him.
So how do you locate your ideal target market? Research. You talk to people. You call up your competition for quotes. You communicate with your current customers. Your ideal customer is someone who can say ‘yes’ immediately to your product/service (no other permissions required), and they have to be able to pay for that product/service as well (wanting to buy from you is simply not enough). When you have done your research regarding your cost price, you know the minimum amount you need to get in in order to make a profit. If your target market you identified can’t pay that, you are in the wrong market. Easy.
When you have checked your what and who on the list, only then you move on to the “How Much”. You know your own costs, you know what your target market can take/will take, so now all that remains is making money, right?
Almost, let’s just go over some ground rules first. Let’s take the case study of John, the canopy maker. He thought as his prices were much lower than that of his competitors, customers would rush to him. His price wasn’t market-related and it wasn’t competitive. With pricing you can easily attract a wrong crowd. Think for a moment, do you honestly want the customer looking for the cheapest buy? Cheapskates are not loyal customers who come back year after year. They scavenge for bargains. Fact of the matter is, know your business, know your customer and you will reach the goal of getting more money in than you are putting out.
The key thing to remember when pumping money into advertising and marketing, is the same principle that comes from sales; it needs to bring in more money than your putting out. So you need to ensure that you market effectively and efficiently, in order to bring those prospective customers in.
Firstly you need to look at branding; your business identity. This can be a logan, slogan, colours associated with you and even something simple as your employee attitude. It’s what people see when they look at, or think about your business. This seems simple, but something even as basic as colour can put someone off your business, think for example about the colours associated with a designer (vibrant, bright colours) compared to that of a lawyer (dark, basic colours signifying stability).
Now the way you look is one thing, the message you send out is another. You need to know exactly what you are saying. When someone looks at your flyer, for example, there can be no mixed messages, what you do, where you do it and why you will make their lives easier needs to jump out. People hardly spend time looking at advertisements, make sure your’s pops out at them, and urges them to come to your business, no further questions asked.
Having a great brand and clear message is only the beginning of the process, however. To make sure that message get read by the right people, the people that will actually add to your business, you need to target those people directly without wasting anything on people who won’t. You need to circulate your message through a media channel that will reach your customer, as you should have defined it back in sales. A great example of this is an entrepreneur who fixes and replaces windshields. He decided to invest with flyers. Instead of standing at an intersection handing out flyers to every car that passes, he went to carparks in communities that he identified as his ideal customer and placed flyers in the windows of cars that he saw needed either replacing or fixing. He directly addressed people who has a need for his service, by cutting those out that don’t. The medium is everything and doesn’t need to be expensive, another example is that of a pest-control business who sponsored a children’s soccer team with free branded T-shirts. The kids, of course aren’t his target market, but the kids’ parents who are his target market, will undoubtedly see the branding on them as the kids wear and re-wear the shirts.
Marketing is all about thinking creatively about getting your name out there and it can be as simple as a good word-of-mouth reputation. A good idea is to track your marketing means by asking new customers how they came about to you, that will also give you great insights about your customer. The fact of the matter is, you need to be knowledgable either way. Know your business and know your customer. Knowledge is power, become an expert of your field and you’ll know exactly where you are going, and can go…