This is the second article of a new series, I have tagged it “Business Mastery Series”. Throughout this series, I will be
addressing some key issues that are pertinent to your success in business as an entrepreneur.
If you missed out on the first article, you can read it here;
Marketing is a core business function; to a large extent the success of your business is dependent on it. But from personal observations, not many entrepreneurs go about their marketing as they ought to. If at all they do, they don’t approach it holistically and so end up leaving so many stones unturned.
They tend to focus more on the selling part of marketing and overlook the other vital parts that naturally make selling unnecessary. The truth is this, if you approach marketing holistically, you will find out that you don’t need to ‘sell’; your products/services will naturally sell themselves.
There is an unusual way to marketing –the holistic way.
To attain the significant level of success you desire in your business, marketing must be seen as one whole concept involving several key activities that must be carried out by everyone in your business beginning with you the entrepreneur. In other words, when it comes to marketing, no one is to be exempted!
Holistic Marketing Simplified
The holistic definition of marketing given by the world’s leading professor of marketing, Philip Kotler;
“Marketing is the art of finding, developing and profiting from opportunities.” In other words, “marketing is the science and art of finding, keeping and growing customers profitably.”
The key words to note in this definition are basically five;
All five involve 3 key activities [finding, keeping and growing] that are directed towards one key target [customers] for one key objective [profitability].
The 3 Key Elements Of Holistic Marketing
1. Finding profitable customers [Lead Generation Strategies]
2. Keeping profitable customers [Customer Retention Strategies]
3. Growing customers profitably [Demand Stimulation Strategies]
Let’s now take a look at them individually.
Finding profitable customers – [Lead Generation Strategies]
Marketing begins with a search. A search for profitable customers, they are popularly referred to as prospects, leads or target customers.
Who is a prospect?
A prospect is anyone who has a need and strongly wants this need met through the consumption of a particular product/service.
Not everyone qualifies as a prospect, the existence of a need is not sufficient to make someone a prospect. All humans have needs; they are fundamental parts of our biological configuration. Needs are not created by businesses, needs can only be discovered. For someone to qualify as a prospect, these needs must become wants.
“Once we move beyond the simple satisfaction of needs, we move into the complex satisfaction of wants. And wants are hard to measure and difficult to understand. Which makes marketing the fascinating exercise it is.” – Seth Godin
Wants are the various forms human needs take as they are shaped and influenced by culture, society and individual personality. Businesses can create wants based on the natural needs of humans. Wants however necessary are not sufficient to make someone a prospect. For someone to qualify as a prospect, these wants must become demands.
Demands are wants backed by an ability to pay. Businesses satisfy human needs by creating products/services that they will demand because it is something they want and have the capacity to buy. The ability to pay is what it means to be a profitable customer [prospect].
This is the most important task of marketing, once you fail to clearly define who your prospects are; every other marketing activity is futile. In other words, your first task as an entrepreneur is to determine who your ideal customers are. The more precise you are in defining this ideal customer(s), the easier your chances of finding them and the more effective your marketing will be.
Needs, wants and demands are collectively referred to as market opportunities. Meaning, wherever there is a need, want or demand, there exist a market opportunity. So your task of finding profitable customers is simply about searching for market opportunities.
There are 3 major sources of market opportunities;
- Scarcity: there is a market opportunity in providing anything that is in short supply
- Quality: there is a market opportunity in providing a better version of an existing product/service
- Innovation: there is a market opportunity in coming up with a new product/service that is both unique [different] and useful [making a difference]
How do you find profitable customers?
I started by saying that marketing begins with a search, well that search for a profitable customer is a market research. Profitable customers don’t grow on trees; they are not even as obvious as you might like to think. Profitable customers differ for every kind of product/service, so, they can only be discovered through a market research.
A deep and accurate understanding of your customers is the foundation upon which successful marketing efforts are built. To communicate effectively, you must see the purchase decision-making process and the media landscape through their eyes.
Market research is how you get to know more about your profitable customers. You can never find them if you don’t know them. Market research is how you become up-close-and-personal with your target market. Market research is how you discover market opportunities. Through market research, you will uncover many useful insights about them such as;
- Who they are [personality, ethnicity]
- How they think [psychology]
- How old they are [age]
- Where they live [location]
- Where they hang out [leisure activities]
- What they do [occupation]
- What they believe [culture, religion]
- How much they earn [income]
- The kind of associations they keep [peers]
- The kind of problems they have [needs, wants and demands]
- The kind of stuffs they buy [taste and preference]
- The kind of life they live [lifestyle]
- Those they currently patronize [competition]
The list is endless. The bottom-line is this; find out through careful research everything and anything that can influence the purchase decision or buying behavior of your prospects. The more information about them you can uncover the more of them you will be able to convert into profitable customers.
You see, looking for profitable customers is like searching for a future partner or serial killer; you’ve got to pay attention to every available detail about the person. You cannot afford to overlook any piece of information you gather about the person. The more you know about them, the better you can serve them and the more they are willing to pay you for being so accurate.
There are 3 major approaches of conducting a market research;
Entrepreneurs can learn a great deal about potential customers from observation. Toyota’s marketing researchers in the 1970s stood near supermarkets in large parking lots and watched how customers loaded their groceries into the trunks of their cars. Based on what they saw, they redesigned Toyota’s trunk to provide more room and easier sliding of packages.
2. Secondary Data:
These are existing data collected for another purpose. You can also gather useful information from secondary data about potential customers. You can obtain such secondary data from government publications, trade journals, online or can even buy commercial data from companies like; A.C Nielsen, Information Resources, Simmons, Hoover’s, Dun and Bradstreet.
3. Primary data:
You can take your research further through primary data when the insights gathered from observation and secondary data seem inadequate. The following options are the available methods of gathering insights through primary data;
- One-on-one interview with potential customers
- Focus group research
- Mail, phone, online or printed surveys
- Experimental design
- Hire a marketing research firm
As you gather insights about your potential customers through market research, please bear in mind that there is a vast difference between data, information, knowledge and wisdom. Unless data is processed into information, and information is processed into knowledge which then becomes wisdom as a result of correct application, much of your findings through market research will be a total waste of time, energy and money.
Market research helps you to discover market opportunities [needs, wants and demand], but not all opportunities are profitably worth pursuing. The attractiveness of a market opportunity depends on certain factors, some of which are; the number of potential buyers, their purchasing power and their eagerness to buy.
The market opportunities worth pursuing are those with a sufficient size of profitable customers whose needs, wants and demands are going unsatisfied or being underserved. This is where market segmentation comes in. Why? Because you are not looking for everyone to sell to, you are looking for some particular people with similar needs, wants and demands that your company has the resources and competence to satisfy.
Through the market research, it is very likely that several market opportunities will emerge comprising diverse customer needs, wants and demands. Each of these needs, wants and demands of customers represent the different class of customers existing within each market opportunity. These different classes of customers with similar needs, wants and demands within a market opportunity are popularly referred to as market segments.
Since you cannot satisfy everyone, you must select those you can. Market segmentation is how to distinguish between suspects and prospects.
Suspects are those who are;
(1) Interested in what you offer but don’t have the means to buy them or don’t really have the intentions of buying;
(2) Interested in something else that is closely related to what you offer but don’t currently have the capacity to produce.
Your suspects should be left alone till a future date when they are ready to buy what you offer or when you are ready to provide what they demanded. Your task is to focus on your prospects. You already know what prospects are so I won’t dwell on that here again.
Market segmentation is how you bring together all prospects with similar needs, wants and demands so that you can be able to target your market offering and marketing communications to them directly. In other words, different market offerings [products/services] for different classes of customers [market segments].
You cannot find what you don’t target and you cannot target what you don’t know. Market research helps you to know more about your profitable customers and market segmentation helps you to select those of them you want to profitably sell to.
Target marketing is about;
- Value Creation: creating what they need and will want to buy
- Value Communication: speaking to them in a language they understand via their preferred media –
Radio [jingles, interviews],
TV [talk shows, documentary, ads, sponsored programs e.g. reality shows ],
Print [magazine, bill boards, newspapers, trade/industry journals],
Mobile [SMS, apps, recorded voice messages] or
Online [blogs, social networks, ebooks, videos, podcasts, infographics, newsletter]
- Value Delivery: getting your finished products/services to them however they want it, wherever they want it and whenever they want it.
In this unusual article, the second part of the Business Mastery Series, I have written about how entrepreneurs should be marketing their businesses. I talked about holistic marketing and identified 3 key elements of holistic marketing. Only one of these key elements has been discussed; finding profitable customers.
In the next article of this series, I will be discussing the two other key elements of holistic marketing; keeping profitable customers and growing customers profitably. You don’t want to miss out!
What new lessons about marketing where you able to pick from reading this unusual article?
How do you go about the critical task of finding profitable customers in your business?
What other strategies besides those mentioned above can fellow entrepreneurs adopt in finding profitable customers for their business?
What were you expecting me to discuss in this unusual article under the context of marketing that I missed out?
Thanks in advance for contributing to this community through your comments. The comment box is below, can’t wait to hear from you!
So you don’t miss out on any of the unusual articles I will be sharing under this series, enter your name and email address in the box below. I will be sure to send you an update every time a new article is posted under this Business Mastery Series!