What Do You Sell?
The first part of the marketing mix is your Product or service. Always define your product or service in terms of what it “does” for your customers, versus what it “is.” Here’s the question, “Is your product or service, as you are offering it today, ideally suited for your current market and customers?”
Remember, if it works, it is already obsolete. If your product or service is popular and profitable, it is already being replaced by your competitors. Because of the dynamics of the market, they will be aggressively seeking ways to offer something to your customers that is better, faster or cheaper than your successful products. Your competitors are staying up at night thinking about how to take your customers, grab your markets and put you out of business. As Tarzan said to Jane, “It’s a jungle out there!”
Be Fast On Your Feet
Because of this competitive pressure, within five years, fully 80% of all products and services will be new or different from what they are today. Many businesses that are thriving today will be memories five or ten years from now because their products will become obsolete and unwanted in a fast moving market. They will fail to replace them fast enough and will be left in the dust of those businesses that move more quickly.
A serious problem with many companies is that they fall in love with their product, and with their history. They “get married” to the process of producing and distributing their product and services. They dismiss challenges to their products, thinking that customer loyalty is strong enough to withstand superior competitive offerings. As a result, they fail to respond fast enough to their competitors when they come out with something that customers prefer more. Don’t let this happen to you.
The Market Test
There is a simple way for you to know if your product or service offers what customers want in today’s marketplace. It is selling well! There is a steady and growing demand for what you sell. People want it. The orders keep pouring in. It is relatively easy for your salespeople to sell it and your level of customer satisfaction is high.
If these conditions do not exist, you have to re-examine your product and service offerings. Always be open to the possibility that the market is passing you by and that you need to develop new products and services quickly if you want to survive and thrive.
How Much Do You Charge?
The second part of the marketing mix is your Price. Is your price the right price for what you are selling? Should you change your price in some way? Should you increase it, decrease it, combine your price with other items, or add items to your price? Should you change your terms or offer something different for the same price?
Be open to the possibility that the way you have priced your products or services in the past may not work any more. You may have to sell your products or services with more generous down payments and extended payment terms. You may need to accept trade-ins on a different basis. But you must do whatever it takes.
Whenever you see a sale or price reduction of any kind, it is an admission by the company that they guessed wrongly at the price that customers were willing to pay. They are now guessing again by lowering the price, hoping that that is the price at which they can sell everything they have available. If they do not clear their inventory at the new price, they will guess again by lowering the price once more.
Double Your Price?
One of my clients was offering a magazine for an annual subscription of $24, and losing money with every issue, hoping eventually to make a profit by selling more advertising. Their business advisor studied the market for this type of specialty publication and then suggested that they double the price. This was an avenue they had never considered.
After a good deal of soul searching, they took a deep breath and doubled the price of the annual subscription. Because the magazine was so well liked by its subscribers, less than 10% of them canceled. Overnight, they went from losses to profits, and changed the entire future of the company. Is there any place in your business that you could increase your prices and still hold onto your market?
How Do You Sell It?
The third element of the marketing mix is Promotion. This word embraces everything you do in the process of marketing, advertising and selling your product or service. You may have a superb product at a great price, but you can go broke quickly if your method of sale is wrong or inadequate.
The key to business success is for you to have a good product or service and then for you to vigorously, aggressively and continuously offer, promote it and sell it in every reasonable way possible. This is usually the make or break area of business activity. How are you currently promoting and selling your product or service? What’s working? What’s not working? Should you change your methods of advertising, marketing, selling or acquiring customers in any way?
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