The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines it as “‘The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably’
Traditionally this was expressed as the 4P’s Model ( Product, Place, Price and Promotion) or the C’s (Consumer, Cost, Convenience, communication), but this has grown with more and more C’s and P’s seemingly being added all the time!
The essential element is to understand what solution your proposition is designed to deliver, who’s going to benefit from it and how they communicate. This will allow you to define your sales strategy, the communication channels and media that you need to use and potentially how to price the proposition to match the needs of the customer.
The plan can be split into the following sections:
Identifying and understanding your customer is the first step in building a clear, actionable and successful go to market plan and has to be at the heart of every decision you make.
A properly designed product starts with a clear understanding of the problem that it addresses and how the owner of the problem is going to use it.
A properly realised marketing strategy understands the language the potential customer uses to describe the problem and where they are likely to search for a solution.
An effective sales plan understands who is involved in the decision and how the decision is likely to be made.
Define the customer/user
In order to define your customer, there are a number of steps you can follow
- Define your target market to ensure you’re not wasting resources talking to the wrong people.
- Understand what the customer wants and how you can deliver it.
- Learn their language and the channels they use so that you can speak to them in a voice and place that will resonate.
- Be aware of the wider organisational context and who else you will need to engage with to make the sale.
The opportunity – How big is the opportunity and what are the constraints
You are in business to meet the needs of the customer so your value proposition needs to be designed with their usage and experience in mind. This will help you focus on which features actually add benefit and will make the customer sit up and take, maximising the value they see in your product and increasing sales.
For simplicity, let’s look at 3 things you need to think of as you define your proposition
- What benefit does the customer need me to deliver? –
- What are the basic things that the proposition must have (Hygiene factors)
- What is going to make the proposition stand out?
Pricing is very important, not only because it defines what revenue you can earn, but also because it signals the type of company you are and the value that you and the customer should expect to place on the product or service.
Remember though that price doesn’t determine revenue, sales do, and your pricing decisions will impact on the volumes you sell, the resources you have available and the risk profile of the business.
Price will also vary through time with both the product and business lifecycle potentially impacting on your business decisions, and you have to take into account competition and the type of relationship you’re planning on having with your customers.
You have a huge number of options to choose from, and the price is one of the simplest things to change about your offering, but don’t forget, you don’t decide what price you can charge, your customers do!
Sales is not a dirty word.
Most of us associate sales with the stereotypical smarmy, pushy sales rep but these are rare and generally dying out. In reality, a good salesperson is engaging, has excellent soft skills and quickly realises that their job is to guide the buyer to the sale, not bludgeon them into submission.
The sale is an essential part of your business as it is the point at which a customer agrees to exchange value with you. You have communicated the value that you can offer to the customer and they have identified the value that your offering can provide, and depending on the complexity of the product or service this may have been more or less involved.
The phrase marketing is used to describe a wide range of tasks ranging from advertising and web design to PR, promotion and the wider research and strategy field, but that’s selling it short.
In the B2B world, communications must work to deliver demand and leads to a sales team who can provide a product at the right price to meet the demand. That means creating interest and awareness, building engagement and providing opportunities to sell products.
The structure of this process is the Marketing Funnel
In order to create a good marketing strategy, you need to be focused on what the market is. If the product addresses different needs for different people, then you have two markets and need to address each with its own plan, especially regarding the messaging and channels for communications or you risk clouding the picture.