Four Marketing Pieces


Some things probably shouldn't be simplified. Some should. Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 should
not be simplified. The US Tax Code should. We think attitudes about marketing should be
simplified. Here's why and how.

A short journey into the topic of marketing encounters terms like brand image, channel distribution,
focus group, reference group, jingle, jumble, on-pack, in-pack and SWOT. That's a separate
language spoken between marketing professionals. But, among just plain business folk, what's
needed is an easy way to understand and execute a business development plan.

The process of profitably selling a product or service can be broken down and the pieces of the
process can be grouped into four parts that are easy to understand, easy to describe and (hopefully)
easy to assemble into a business plan.

#1 Have a product or service that people want to buy.

Without a product or service that is needed or desired in the market no combination of innovative
manufacturing, distribution or advertising will lead to long term commercial success.

How do you know your product idea will be popular enough to make money? Experience,
observation and reasoning. Business experience in a particular industry or market includes
encounters with products and purchasers. Information gained from that experience can be analyzed.
Additional information can result from research of publicly available statistics or from surveys or
interviews with small focus groups. Regardless of how information or intelligence is gained, the
result should be the foundation for evaluating the needs of a market and its value structure on
which a company can make decisions regarding product, features, pricing and presentation.

#2 Be able to reliably and economically produce that product.

Many companies started in basements or garages. Few successful ones stayed there. All early
stage and most later stage companies must grow to survive.  Growth requires increases in capacity
and the ability to reliably and economically produce the goods or services of the business.

There are two aspects to reliable production, quality and availability. The product has to be of
consistent quality.  For any given price point the better the product quality the more successful it
will be. The product need not be top quality. Sometimes good is good enough. But, the quality
needs to be consistent and predictable.

And, the product has to be available - at least within the expectations of the customer. Making
dinner reservations weeks in advance may be OK if that's expected. Waiting for a table once you
have a reservation is not OK. Some markets need products available on a quick delivery basis. In
those cases a successful business must have the resources to perform according to the market needs
or expectations.

It can go without saying that long term production of goods or services needs to be economical. To
manage economical production focus first on cost, then on price.

#3 Make the product accessible by the people who want to buy it.

Japanese car makers wouldn't have much market share in the US if buyers had to shop in and ship
from Japan. In order to grow sales in this country, Toyota, et al needed to establish a network of
dealerships along with a supporting organization and infrastructure.

The shape of a distribution channel is different for each market. A dentist is pretty much a direct
provider working from a single office. Certain types of fresh produce are transported across the
country as they pass through several distribution layers before reaching the consumer. Satellite
radio broadcast requires customers to have special equipment.  In each case, making the product or
service available requires a process tailored to a specific market. 

#4 Communicate with the market target.

 It's obviously important that a customer knows a product exists. But, that's not enough to generate
sales.  They need to understand why that product or service is valuable to them. Do you care if you
have a dirty chimney? You do if you know it can set your house on fire. So, advertising a chimney
sweeping service may also require explaining why it's important. Communicated along with the
value of the product should be information about how to get the product or service: hours of
operation, location, contact phone or email, web address, etc.

How to communicate that information depends on the market and budget. Advertising in one form
or another is almost always an option, but not necessarily the best one. There is sometimes an
overblown faith in web presence and social media. While those have a place in most business
promotion, in reality a combination of communications processes including media, merchandising
and direct contact is required for success.

Bottom Line

Business development has four easy to describe pieces. Anything you do to start or grow a
business relates to one of them. Take away any one piece and the puzzle isn't complete. 
Posted by Peter on 5/1/2014 3:11:02 PM