This article was written by Guy Blaskey for the e-book “Going for Growth” published by Sage.
Before we start to look at marketing for growth it makes sense to look at marketing in general, what is, why it exists and where it has come from. In ‘the good old days’ marketing was effectively taking things to a market. If you were a carpenter you would take the stool that you made to a market, hopefully sell it and then use the money to buy some vegetables so that you could feed your family. Or if you were a farmer you would take your vegetables to the market and sell them to make money so that you could buy a stool to sit on while you ate your dinner. The process was simple you had a ‘need’, such as satisfying your hunger and a seller had a product to meet the need, such as vegetables.
The seller’s job when at the market was to convince you that his vegetables were the ones that you should buy – That his product was the best product to meet your need. He would do tend to do that with one or more of the four Ps; Price – his vegetables were cheaper than another vegetable seller’s vegetables, Product – his vegetables were better (tastier, bigger etc) than another vegetable seller’s vegetables, Place – He got the market stall at the entrance to the market, so that you bought his vegetables before you even saw the other vegetable seller’s vegetables or Promotion – He would either shout louder than the other vegetable seller (advertising), or he would get people to spread the word that his vegetables were the best (social media).
The role of marketing, which is to convince someone that your product is the best product the meet their need, is still the same. It is just the methods that are different.
A key concept in the industrial revolution was ‘specialisation and division of labour’, as noted in Adam Smith’s pin factory example. What this meant was that one person no longer made products and took them to market to sell. The person who was better at making products made them, and the person who was best at selling products sold them. This leads to today where it is extremely unlikely that you ever meet the person who creates the products that you buy.
In a way this is a shame, because almost every dog owner that I chat to I can tell about our dog food and turn them into a customer. This is not only because Pooch & Mutt’s dog food is the best food for their dog it is because they connect with me on an emotional level and know that I would only ever make a product that made their dog happy and healthy. However we make our dog food on an industrial level. The smallest run that we can do is about 2,000 bags per variety. We currently have 5 varieties, so that it 10,000 bags. Each bag lasts about 2 weeks, so that is 20,000 weeks worth of dog food, or 385 years worth of dog food. Based on the amounts that we are producing we clearly need more customers than people that I can hope to meet, speak to and convince to buy our food, so I need to look at other forms of marketing, which reach more people.
Just as with the market stall of ye olden days, the keys to successful marketing are 1) a potential customer having a need, 2) you having a product that meets that need, 3) being able to tell the potential customer that your product is the best product to meet their need and 4) the potential customer being able to purchase the product. The most important thing is that it all starts with a customer need… not with what you want to make.
In order to market for growth you need to be able to find the maximum number of people who have a need for your product and who are able to purchase it, then explain to them why your product is the best one to match that need. The big trick of marketing is not only telling your potential customers about your product, but also NOT telling the people who would NOT be your customers about your product. If you are spending your effort/ time/ money telling people about your product who will never be customers, then you are wasting effort/ time/ money that could be used elsewhere, to tell people who might become customers about your product. Getting this right is both the biggest challenge for marketers and the reason why I hope that whilst you are reading this you are thinking that maybe you should change your dog’s food to a Pooch & Mutt food, and if you are not a dog owner then I have either wasted my time writing this, or I hope you will recommend our products to friends who do have dogs, or I just enjoy writing and this isn’t a marketing exercise.