New Marketing Strategies

As more companies realize that their business is dwindling, the need for new marketing strategies becomes apparent. So when you see that once flourishing business of yours limping and moaning, STOP MAKING EXCUSES (SME). So what exactly is SME, it is a new term that I thought up when tapping the keyboard on my laptop. No it is has nothing to do with Small and Medium scale Enterprises, in the context of this report and SME would apply to a huge organization, a medium sized company and even a 'mom and dad' home business. When business starts moving downwards, we blame the economy, blame competition, blame the climate, blame .... blame .... blame.

But if you stepped back for a moment and saw the true pictures you would notice that, other businesses in the same industry as yours seem to be do unusually well. So what has actually happened is that your customers have found other places to shops. So how did the other business who came into the picture long after you were 'established' manage to grab a susbtantial chunk of your business. The answers might not be simple, there might be more than one answer too but - to get a hang of the problems you will need to SME.

Marketing is a word that is often misunderstood. Businesses presume that marketing involves getting new customers, shout from the roof top, distribute printed pamphlets, open a small booth at a BIG local exhibition etc. Your marketing strategy will need to include many more ideas, it would have to adapt and adopt new developments and changes too.

Inorder to understand the new concepts in marketing, you will need to be aware of how customers or prospective customers are today finding sources to buy products or services from. This is something that will help you develop a more effective marketing strategy. Let us throw a few case studies at you, give them a thought and try to work them into your marketing plan.

Case 1: Tom wants to introduce his young son to the creative world of photography. So Tom would like to buy a camera for his son, a simple and yet smart digital camera. What would Tom do - if Tom is like the 60%+ camera buyers, who would get on his computer and review his options. This would include assessing the features of the digital camera, checking out the price and warranty period, getting educated about the options that the camera comes with etc. This is a susbtantial amount of information, something that a sales lady at a department store would not likely be able to offer.

Once Tom is equipped with all this information, he chooses a place to buy the camera from.  Where would he buy the camera from  - a stores or maybe make an online purchase. The interesting thing is that, if Tom decides to buy the camera from a store, he might dig further on the net (internet) and try to find a suitable store to buy the camera from. So the important thing here is that, a camera store would need to have some sort of online presence. For many businesses, this is an entirely new ball game - so new that some may decide to stay far away from the game!

Case 2: In some cases it might be a good idea to specialize in a specific line of product or service, rather than spraying your resources thinly across a wide range. You might have experienced this scenario - walk into an electronics store, pick a high end television set, realize that the power plug on the television set needs a special adaptor to be usable in your home power circuit. Now ask the salesman for the adaptor and he or she warmly tells you that, they do not stock that part. So you can drive 4 blocks down the road, to pick the adaptor. This is bad store planning, and might cost the business to lose customers over a period of time. While marketing might get you new customers, continued marketing strategy should aimed for - this will allow you to retain a larger share of existing customers.

Case 3: Walk into a restaruarnt, have a delicious meal - smile and request for a cafe-latte (coffee with milk). The waitress smiles back and tells you that all they have is coor beer, lemonade and canned fruit juices. Now here is a decision that the restaurant should make or should have made a long time ago. Assess the local habits of people in the country, region or locality - is it a common habit for them to have a hot coffee or tea after a meal? If the answer is a 'yes', the restaurant needs to include that item on it's menu. On the other hand if this is a very rare request, the owner of the restaurant might decide to do nothing. If you are not sure of what your customers prefer, try keeping the coffee on the menu. Monitor the frequency with which it is ordered and after a suitable testing period, make an effective decision.

 Case 4: You own a small printing press situated on a busy street. In the same block are a few other shops, a donut shop and bakery, a grocery store and an electronics showroom. Notice that these businesses are not very related in terms of product, service or operation. The important thing to consider for your marketing strategy is that, each of these businesses is likely to have a totally different set of customers. So could all of you get together and work on a combined marketing plan - start simple, assess the effectiveness and then try to take it to the next level. For a beginning, explore the possibility of printing a combined flyer or a single page color advertisement. The advertisement would basically include a brief write up, logo and contact details of all the businesses who decide to work together. Each of the businesses, would keep a stack of the flyers and hand one to their customers.

Case 5: Look around and see if you can find something like a local online directory. These online websites list local businesses and local happenings, with a view to gaining local visitors. If such an operation is sponsored by the local district office, it could be a free service. You might need to check out whether a similar service is available in your locality for free or for a small fee. Just how widely, you want to advertise your business would depend on your scope of operations and target market. For example, a hair cutting and beauty salon is unlikely to draw interest from customers living in another district or state.

Case 6: While gaining new customers through a marketing campaign is essential, do not take your existing clients for granted. It will cost you much less and would also be more easier to retain a client than to acquire a new one. This does not mean that you do not need new customers, all it means is that - you need to take care of existing customers too. A small mom and pop grocery store, has been serving local clients with a personal touch for a couple of decades. The eldest daughter, injects some capital into the business, renovates the store and fills it with high end merchandise, quite different from what was being sold for the past 20 years. This daughter is more likely to take the business to it's end than, actually impact revenues. She would then begin blaming various factors that caused the business to slow or even shut down.

Case 7: You will be amazed to hear how often this situation happens in small stores - very common in countries like Thailand and India too. You enter a small store to buy something, the only person who is standing in the store is on the phone chatting with someone. One glance at you and his or her eyes (not mouth) ask you what you are there for! You desperately point to the brown soap box on the back shelf, still chatting on the phone, the shop keeper picks it and hands it to you. You take out a bank note and hand it to the shopkeeper. Still on the phone, he or she uses hands to tell you that, he has no change for the bank note. You dig your purse, then your pocket and just manage to get the exact amount required. You pay the shopkeeper (who is still on the phone), he or she heaves a sigh of relief and continues chatting. Make sure that your marketing strategy does not include such, unpolite staff. The worst part is that, these very small shop owners seem very agitated when large shopping malls spring up in the same locality - they grumble that these big shopping centers kill small businesses like theirs

The above report on new marketing strategies, teach you ways in which to retain and increase your business. Nothing is 100% certain in business or life, but your actions and efforts can reduce the risk of failure. Doing nothing is bound to bring more uncertainity to your business.