Have I done the unthinkable?
When I studied marketing, sometime last century, there were only four marketing Ps - Price Product, Place and Promotion. These are the main aspects of the marketing mix you can adjust in the management of your marketing. These have been set in stone for decades. Since I matriculated, someone who loved alliteration decided that they would add more. Depending on who you ask, these can vary but often they are People, Process and Physical Environment. (I know, the last one isn’t alliteration). This brings it up to seven marketing Ps.
Physical Environment is closely linked to Place. People and Process are integral parts of your Product. However you carve up the pie, and whatever you call it, these are still pieces of the same pie. They all relate to your marketing and how effective it will be. I feel it is worth mentioning though that your product or service will only ever be as good as your people so growing an amazing culture in your workplace or business is vital.
I want to do the unthinkable and add another P to the list to bring it to eight* (they will be adding this to future textbooks but you saw it here first!).
How the market perceives your business will determine if they want to engage with you. Do the contact points you create inspire confidence and a desire to use your products or services? We were all told not to judge a book by its cover, but reading the ‘dust jacket’ of business may be the only way to determine if you want to engage with this entity, particularly if it requires a significant investment. How people get a feel for your business is the key part of your communications and it is directly related to your success. This significant part of marketing is often overlooked.
Small to medium businesses are competing with the big players, so it is time to learn from their strategies even though these guys have huge budgets and teams allocated to their marketing. They work hard at communication and are good at it. Because of this, their customers know they are a reputable business who can deliver in service, quality and reliability. So what do they do?
Large companies are communicating constantly, be it online, through radio, TV, point of sale, print or outdoors. Usually all of these media and all of the time.
They are communicating clearly. They choose a specific message across all forms of media.
They are communicating consistently - the same design, the same style, the same colour, the same voice.
They are communicating creatively. You will have seen plenty of TV commercials that hook you in with a story and you don’t realise it is an advertisement until the end. This year’s Super Bowl Ad - God made a Farmer is a prime example. Creativity is not limited to television, you can also be creative in how you use your social media to connect with potential clients.
They communicate correctly. 99.9% of the time you won’t see typos or grammatical mistakes in the communications of big companies. I once saw a grammatical mistake from an email in one of the big banks - I contacted them and it was changed immediately. In comparison, I received a marketing email from a business. I found 7 errors in 2 paragraphs. They consistently send out content with many mistakes.
With that in mind, you need to strive to do the same.
The Garage Band Effect
I once recorded an album of original material. It required lots of expensive equipment and skilled operators to hire a studio. It was an amazing experience but at the time all I could see were the dollars clocking up. Today, with the technology that we all possess, every Tom, Dick and Harry can do high-quality recording at home, even on your smartphone. People have saved (and made) a lot of money recording albums in their lounge. The technology is great, more affordable and accessible, but you still need skill to produce a good album.
The advances in technology are across the board including the marketing sector. It is easy to write and promote your own material, create an online presence or design your own flyers - and lots of people do. A problem occurs when the quality is not what it needs to be to best reflect your brand. You may run your business from your garage but you don’t want it to look like that. This is an area where you need to manage that other marketing P - Perception.
A quality printed flyer vs a hand-stapled photocopied page says you are a significant business that can be relied upon. What do you think if you receive an email newsletter with grammatical mistakes? We all make typos but if it happens consistently, you know the company does not have the communications expertise and this will affect your perception of them.
Again, how does it look if you see errors on a webpage or imagery that is low resolution, blurry or poorly lit? These all affect how you see that brand and your perception will determine whether you choose to engage with them or not.
In summary, here is a list of some of the things that will determine how a customer perceives a business and therefore need to be carefully managed;
Words - ensure your written communication is concise and correct. If you struggle with grammar, find someone who is an expert.
Images - invest in quality pictures or even better, video. If a picture says a 1000 words, what words are they saying about your business?
Customer service - when a customer phones or contacts you, how you respond or manage this engagement will determine if they will go any further with your business. Is your reception welcoming? Do you separate yourself from clients when you meet them with a big desk in between? These are all aspects of your customer service.
Design and style - Your branding and style need to be attractive to the market you are trying to connect with. Its quality is readily apparent. If you are designing your communications in Word or Powerpoint, stop it now! You heard me. You are damaging your brand. Get some help.
Environment - Your place of business, the location, its fit out, all affect your customers' perceptions of you and your business.
It can be helpful to take a step back sometimes and ask yourself how does this look? What does it say about my brand? What would I think if this were someone else’s business?
This is where getting some help may be what you need. Give us a call or email for a helpful chat.
*In some spheres of thinking, there are already 8 Ps in the Marketing Mix with the addition of Productivity and Quality. This came from the old Services Marketing Mix and I feel it is folded into the Extended Marketing Mix. So what does it mean?
This P asks “is what you’re offering your customer a good deal?” This is less about you as a business improving your own productivity for cost management, and more about how your company passes this onto its’ customers. I feel this is part of your product, price and process so I have not included it.