June 26, 2013
Marketing: In a Snapshot
“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation” – Milan Kundera
In today’s customer-centric world, no business can succeed without the big M: Marketing
Simply put, marketing is the process of responding to the needs of your customers while forging a mutually beneficial and long-lasting ‘exchange’ or relationship. Of course, there are exceptions in that sometimes a customer is unaware of a need.
For instance, who would have thought that one could read a book ‘on the move’ without actually holding a book? But that’s exactly what your Kindle read or Google Nexus allows you to do. Who would have thought that one could hold over 1000 songs (sometimes over 3000!) in a music player? But that’s exactly what an IPOD allows you to do. Who would have thought that one could burn (or record) movies without utilizing bulky tapes? But that’s exactly what a DVD allows you to do. And we love all these inventions – commonly known as disruptive technologies because they ‘disrupt’ existing technologies – because they have made our lives simpler and more efficient.
In all these cases, an innovative company swooped in to remind us of a previously unknown – but highly beneficial – need, thereby creating instant satisfaction. But although a breakthrough product or service often sells itself during the Introduction phase of the Product Life Cycle – solely because of its ingenuity – marketing is still crucial to the long-term sustenance of the product. Why? Because once your product is introduced, it is no longer new! Other players will quickly enter a profitable market to grab their own pieces of the pie, and the only way you can continue to attract and retain customers is through marketing tactics.
Now, a commercial cleaning service is not an innovative service. There are lots of players in this field, making it that much harder to stand out (from the crowd). Hence, the only way to differentiate yourself from your competitor is through creative marketingtechniques.
SWOT Analysis: First step of any Marketing Plan
The first step of any marketing plan or strategy is known as SWOT analysis, which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (S-W-O-T). Strengths and Weaknesses are internal attributes, while Opportunities and Threats are external attributes. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses is key to realizing what you can or cannot do. For instance, if your biggest strength is your ‘response time’, then you shall promote this strength as your Unique Selling Proposition or USP in your marketing efforts. Similarly, if one of your weaknesses is that you have only 5 employees, you can obviously not aim for something unrealistic – like offering cleaning service for an entire city! In other words, analyzing your core strengths and weaknesses will help you choose a Target Market – the type of consumers – based on demographics or industry genre or size – that you wish to serve.
Understanding the opportunities and threats requires a careful study of your market AND your competitors, and is very important because you are not the sole player in your market. Your competitors represent the other ‘choices’ for your potential customers – the ‘threats’. Unless you study your competitors and the cleaning service market, you cannot create implementable marketing plans. Remember: Differentiation is the key. How are you going to differentiate yourself if you don’t know what your competitor is doing or what’s going on in the market? And if you cannot or don’t differentiate yourself, you might as well shut down your business! No one is going to pick a business that offers nothing new!
Hence, research your competitor thoroughly – without illegal methods, of course – and learn what kind of trends exist in your market. For instance, what kind of prices and promotional techniques are working or not working for your competitor(s)? Or if a new green cleaning product comes out and is generating a good buzz, your company should be on top of this story and figure out if this ‘opportunity’ can be turned into a ‘strength’ for your company.
Cornerstone of a Marketing Strategy: 4 Ps
Once you complete the SWOT analysis, you are in a better position to create a marketing strategy, which is popularly known as the 4 Ps : Product, Price, Place, Promotion. P – for People – because while you might own your business, your customers own you. The only way to grow is to quickly understand, respond to and satisfy your customer or client’s needs. Selling is no longer the norm; interacting is the norm>
Product (your cleaning service) and Price (how much do you charge a customer) are self-explanatory. When it comes to a PRODUCT, Place refers to the place of distribution – for e.g., online vs. retail stores. In the cleaning service industry, Place could refer to the region that you choose to serve. For example, if your company is located in Schaumburg, and your Place can be all office buildings within a 20 mile radius of your company. Promotion refers to your mode or vehicle of communication with your potential and current customers – that is, how do you educate your ‘leads’ about your service in a way that turns them into your customers. Some techniques includes Websites, Advertising, Direct Mail, Sales Promotion (even Cold Calling!), Social Media etc.
The following link offers 7 proven techniques to market a cleaning business: http://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/259/business_and_finance/7_proven_tips_to_market_your_cleaning_business.html
Implement these techniques to create a successful business that grows itself
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