Before you can even write a business plan, you have to fundamentally understand what it is you transact at the very core of your value, and what it is worth to your "ideal" customers, by segment. You need to understand the jobs your customers are trying to do.

 

For instance, McDonald’s sells burgers, but people go to McDonald’s when they are hungry and in a hurry. The job they are trying to do is get fed with a minimum of fuss, and concerns about nutrition take second place. This is a very different proposition to a hamburger restaurant that sells healthy gourmet burgers with sit-down service for $20 per unit.

 

Yet it could easily (wrongly) be assumed that the core offering for both businesses is "burgers", thereby assuming they are competitors. 

 

If that happens, a vast range of organisational decisions will be based on an incorrect premise, setting both businesses off in the wrong direction.

 

Except by chance, they will not be able to increase the value of their offering to customers, because they will have fundamentally misunderstood what it is the customer really wants.

 

By following a good market strategy and planning process a business can effectively differentiate itself by capitalising on its strengths to provide consistently better value to customers than its competitors.

The distillation and interpretation of market research is a rigorous process that requires discipline, insight and OBJECTIVITY. Handling it without third party guidance is fraught with the danger of inadvertently nurturing fondly regarded internal myths about your organisation and what it really does. 

All organisations and enterprises, no matter how large or small, will reap rewards from an organised approach to creating value across all conceivable customer touch points. Whether a charity, banking multinational, large scale manufacturer or burger shop, the principles of market definition and positioning remain the same.

Alignment is achieved when guardianship is applied to the core strategies of an organisation and they are distilled into operations plans (including marketing activity plans) that are rolled out across all departments for implementation and measurement. 

 

 

What is marketing, and why it drives business strategy...

Benefits of refreshing market research and reviewing assumptions about core value proposition, position and strategy before business planning include:

 

  • Understanding who your current and future competitors really are will ensure you are on the front foot with any adjustments that need to be made. 

  • Financial assumptions come to be based on a real understanding of how high-value customers buy, what jobs they are trying to do, where the capacity for innovation lies, and what it will cost to serve them better. 

  • Decisions about where to spend and where to save become seamless and easy. 

  • Everyone knows what they need to do and can link their skills and efforts back to a central vision and plan, increasing business efficiency, promoting "flow", and linking performance management to goals. 

 

  • An ’all staff’ understanding of purpose and agreed key messages reduces pressure on marketing staff to ’police’ marketing, and in a small organisation, negates the need for a marketing department. The organisation itself becomes market-focussed. This reduces the marketing overhead and improves market traction.

 

  • The organisation is seen from the outside to be highly synergistic and consistent. This communicates competency, reassures customers of your high level of professional capability and promotes loyalty. 

  • You no longer need to create marketing campaigns as a "bandaid"; spending money to achieve unknown results. 

You have to trump your competition, systematically, on every possible small point of differentiation, to win in a competitive, changing market. This requires a STRATEGIC approach.

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© 2015 Morgan Davis

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