If you took this course, you are probably looking for new ideas. You might be a marketer yourself, you might be an entrepreneur or small business person, or you might just want to be able to drop in a few good ideas at the next meeting. This course will help you with any of these goals.
Marketing is, above everything else, about creating profitable exchanges. The exchanges should be profitable for both parties— fair trade always makes both parties better off. otherwise why would people trade at all? What we are aiming to do is offer products (which includes services, of course) that don’t come back, to customers who do come back. One of the basic concepts of marketing is customer centrality. in any question involving marketing, we always start with looking at what the customer needs. This does not, of course, mean that we are some kind of altruistic, charitable organization: we don’t GIVE the customer what he or she needs, we SELL the customer what he or she needs. Note that we defi ne needs pretty broadly, too. If a woman needs chocolate, or a man needs a beer, we are there to ensure that they do not have to wait long. Most of the ideas in this book offer you ways of improving the exchange process, by encouraging more of it or by making the exchanges more profitable.
Marketing goes further than this, though. Marketing is also concerned with creating a working environment, with managing the exchange between employer and employee for maximum gain for both parties. In service industries, employees are a major component of what people are buying—the chef and waiters in a restaurant, the stylists in a hair salon, the instructors in a fl ying school. Some of the ideas in the book are about internal marketing: keeping employees on board and motivated is perhaps the most important way you have of developing competitive edge.
This is not a marketing textbook. There are plenty of those around, and if you are a marketer you will have read plenty of them. There is very little theory in here. Only one or two examples when they help to illustrate the reasoning behind some of the ideas. The aim of the course is to offer you a set of “snapshot” ideas for marketing. The ideas all come from real companies. Some are big, some are small, some are service companies, some are physical-product companies. In some cases, you will be able to lift the idea completely from the book and adopt it for your own business. In other cases you might be able to adapt the idea. In still other cases, the idea might illustrate how a creative approach can help you, and perhaps it will spark off a few ideas of your own.
The ideas often came from the companies’ own websites or from published sources, and in other cases came from direct experience of dealing with the companies themselves. If you keep your eyes open, you will see examples of slick marketing all around you. A creative approach is all it takes to be a winner yourself.
Ultimately, good marketing is about being creative. Successful companies are the ones that develop their own unique selling proposition (the USP) that marks them out as different from their competitors. The USP might be almost anything. An improved level of service can make all the difference to a fi rm selling a product such as cement, which is essentially the same whoever sells it. At the same time, a retailer with an exclusive range of physical products can create a strong competitive advantage over another retailer who is equally attentive to customers and has just as nice a store. Copying ideas directly is usually not a good idea—but adapting them from a different industry can be extremely powerful.
A common mistake many fi rms make is to try to please everybody. For all but the largest fi rms this is impossible. Even very big fi rms tend to do it by splitting themselves into various subdivisions and sub-brands. You can’t therefore adopt all the ideas in this book: you will have to be a bit selective, because many of the ideas will not apply to your industry or your individual circumstances. For small to medium-sized fi rms, specialization is the way forward—but specialize in customers, not products. Customers give you money, products cost you money: stay focused on customer need!
Ultimately, without customers there is no business. This is true of staff, stock, and premises too, of course, but they are all a lot easier to get than customers. After all, everybody else is out there trying to get the customers’ hard-earned money off them. I hope this course will give you some ideas for getting more customers, keeping them for longer, and selling more to them.