How effectively are you marketing your distributorship? How are you integrating marketing principles into your business strategy to not only keep existing customers walking through the door, but attract new ones as well? Are you marketing your business at all?
Don’t feel bad if you’ve answered no to one or more of these questions. To some people, marketing can be a rather scary concept; something they know they should be doing on some level, but maybe not quite sure how to go about it. To others marketing is an expense and something practiced without a plan or on an ad hoc basis. And usually when either scenario is the case, it gets pushed to the side.
But marketing shouldn’t be viewed as a daunting task. When used properly, it works. So let’s start changing perceptions today, and begin to use marketing to better position your distributorship to capture a larger share of the market.
Before launching any sort of marketing tactic, the first thing you need to do is identify your objectives, i.e. what are you trying to accomplish. In considering objectives, you must know who your audience is, or more specifically, who are you trying to influence. When thinking of the objectives for your business, think big picture, for example:
- Where do you envision your business being in one, two, and five years from now?
- Are you looking to protect or increase sales from your existing client base?
- Are you looking to expand your offering into a new market?
- Are you trying to raise awareness of your business and separate yourself in a crowded market?
Along with identifying objectives, a second part of this step is to determine desired results and establish timelines for each one. For example, if you would like to increase sales from existing customers – what is your target percentage increase, and when are you forecasting to reach that mark: 6 months, one year, 18 months?
Listing results and timelines not only helps you stay focused on the big picture of what you’re trying to achieve, but serves as a benchmark to measure success against. Objectives are measurable. If you’ve achieved your results within the timeline, mission accomplished. But if the effort has fallen short, then a reevaluation of your strategies and tactics are in order.
Now that you’ve identified your objectives, the next step is to establish strategies. Marketing strategies are the ideas that serve as the foundation of an overall marketing plan. They’re approaches that help you focus efforts and resources on achieving your goals. Typically there will be three to four strategies that support each objective. For example if an objective is to expand your product offering to a new market, strategies could be:
- Establish brand awareness among a defined group of persons within specific areas or industries
- Develop a comprehensive public relations campaign to deliver proof of how well you deliver products or services to existing customers
- Deliver product features and benefits directly to each target audience member through one-to-one communication
- Develop interest through collateral print material and visual cues in targeted mail campaign
Much like the objectives, marketing strategies are long-term approaches and designed for be in place for the duration of the campaign or period until the objectives are met. They are generally tiered via priority and can be adjusted during the campaign depending on specific results.
Determining Tactics & Execution
With the objectives and strategies in place, it’s time to determine the proper marketing tactics and put them into action. Tactics is where the rubber meets the road, as they are the specific actions that will help you leverage your strategies to meet your objectives.
In looking at the example above where we developed strategies to support an objective to expand a product offering to a new market, what do you think could be some good marketing tactics to employ? Potential tactics for the three strategies could be:
- Deliver brand-based online advertisements for placement in trade-based websites
- Develop news releases and case studies that tout your distributorship’s breadth of product and high level of customer service
- Produce a series of product sell sheets for use by sales people; make them available online via the website
- Launch a direct mail campaign promoting your new product offering to targeted customers
Tactics should be chosen based on the criteria that directly support the strategies. Unlike the objectives and strategies, which are designed for the long-term, tactics can be executed and have an end date of a short duration, or can stretch the entirety of the campaign.
As you begin to consider a marketing plan for your distributorship, you need to consider objectives, strategies and tactics. All too often a business will run an ad somewhere or start a blog – because they think they need to do “something” to promote their company – which are standalone tactics with no real strategy or action plan behind them. The best way to approach marketing is to develop objectives based on where you want to take the business, and devise your strategies and tactics to support your objectives. Following these steps will go a long way toward removing the unknowns of marketing, while delivering measureable analytics on which to judge what works, and what does not for your brand or company.