Think of business marketing like taking an endless road trip. You are trying to reach destinations along the way … The market and traffic are constantly moving whether you keep pace or not… You are competing with other drivers … There are unpredictable road hazards which can impede your trip from bad weather to detours … You need to have a suitable, well maintained vehicle and need to cover expenses like gas and repairs along the way. So, this is the analogy.
The first point is figuring out where you want to go, so you will need a road map, or in business a Marketing Plan. Either way, these help you select the best route to efficiently get from point to point. In business a Marketing Plan will layout basic strategy to reach your sales objectives. This Marketing Map is based on realistic sales goals, current market potential, the companies’ capabilities and the budget. Like traveling, you want to plan your route and have a vehicle and the resources to get you there.
Without a plan you will drive off aimlessly letting the road take you wherever it may go. You may prefer to be on a scenic country road, but end up in a dead-end alley in the “bad” section of town. Astute entrepreneurs have a vision of where they want to go and utilize a Marketing Plan to get them there. If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to get there? Reactive advertising is chasing the market and trying to play catchup. This is costly and ineffective.
Traffic is the FLOW OF THE MARKET. If you’re not keeping up with traffic and your competition is passing you by, you are in the wrong vehicle or not stepping on the gas. Unrealistic business owners may rationalize that just getting on the freeway of the market will assure they will travel down the road to success. Just like, not every vehicle is suitable for high performance freeway driving, not every strategy or budget will put you on the road to success. You don’t need a Tesla Roadster, but if all you can afford is a Fiat Qubo, plan to stay off the freeway and take the side roads. In other words, you will need to downscale your sales goals.
Your marketing strategy is the road map to where you are going and your budget is how much horsepower can you afford to get there? Every business owner has to be realistic on how they will travel down the marketing highway. Highly competitive and aggressive companies will be in the fast lane passing slower vehicles. Underfunded and poorly managed firms will limp along on the dirt roads, many of these will breakdown and never get to where they hoped to go.
Freeways are a mass of unpredictable traffic conditions. There is weather… road construction… accidents and rush-hour traffic. The road to business has its’ obstacles as well. In business, these are uncontrollable conditions that effect consumer perception, spending, sales and profits. The ability to overcome these hazards will mean the difference between success and failure. Overcoming road hazards and marketing problems in business, requires the skill of a good driver or the ability of an astute marketing manager. A person who can maneuver around obstructions, floor it to pass problems and brake when necessary.
On the freeway everyone seems to be jockeying for position. The same is true in the business world. You are sharing the road with your competition. As you are traveling along on cruise control trying to save on gas, you may see your competitor whizz by you in the passing lane. Yes, they are burning more gas but their business is picking up speed, while you may be loping along.
The worst mistake any marketer can make is to stop advertising. This is like traveling at freeway speeds then shutting off the ignition and coasting to save on gas. This often occurs with new management, who feels they can save money by cutting advertising expenses. Oh sure, it seems to be working for a while, until the business begins to lose sales. Sales and profits lose momentum just as a vehicle would coast to a stop. By the time management realizes it they have two options: restart the vehicle can put the pedal to the metal which will require more gas (cost) than if they kept going. Surveys show it take about seven times the budget and effort to regain market position after being absent for twelve months. In the mean-time traffic (the market) has passed by.
The only choice for those companies who just don’t have the financial capabilities to pour money into restarting an aggressive marketing campaign, is to abandon their vehicle on the roadside. This is the equivalent of going out of business. This happens more that you may realize. This is no place for wimps. All businesses are in competition for the consumer dollar. Some will make it, others will break down or run out of gas and be left by the roadside. This is why poorly managed and under-funded businesses fail and forward-thinking pro-active entrepreneurs that are willing to invest in dynamic marketing campaigns succeed.
Marketing in today’s competitive world requires an aggressive marketing strategy (road map), and an adequate budget to fuel a comprehensive program. For more information: Tom Smisek Marketing Consultants, Orange County, CA