By Patrick Rosario – AfricanBrains
To succeed in today’s rapidly shifting business world you have to focus more on competitors, and less on implementing your old marketing strategies. Whether you’re starting a new venture or your business has been around for generations, chances are that you’re reading this because your competition has more marketing muscle than you. Fortunately, that fact can work in your favour! In reality, marketing techniques change quickly, and most of your competitors will be relying on out of date guidelines. You will be astonished at how many simple, yet effective and innovative stunts your competitors ignore or don’t even know about.
What is Your Game Plan?
Many business owners do all the ‘wrong’ marketing activities the ‘right’ way or vice versa. If you want to do the right marketing activities the ‘right way,’ you must start with a marketing plan! Consider answering these questions to get started:
- What are your business’s greatest strengths and weaknesses?
- What are your biggest challenges and opportunities?
- Who are your current customers, and why are they patronising your business?
- Who are your competitors’ current customers, and why are they patronising their businesses?
- What new programs would have the greatest potential to boost your revenue?
Do You Really Understand?
Customers must be at the heart of your marketing strategy, but do you really understand their wants and needs? Most organisations do not. Don’t confuse “wants” with “needs.” People don’t necessarily only buy what they need, they will most always also buy what they want. Consider these suggestions:
- Understand your customer’s subconscious wants by simply observing them in person.
- Making sure you are listening to lost customers, potential customers, as well as current customers will lead to interesting process improvements for your business.
- Figure out what you are going to create and then get feedback from customers after it’s created.
- It is often better to simplify your processes than it is to add to them. Customers respond to simplicity, as they have enough spam and misleading information to filter through in today’s marketplace.
Get out from behind your computer surveys and data, and see your customers with fresh eyes! Once you do this, you can build a marketing strategy built on innovation differentiating your organisation from the competition.
What Is The Purpose of a Forecast?
What would you do without a daily weather forecast? You would be appropriately dressed for outside conditions probably only 50% of the time. Just as it is important to foresee what the climate conditions are, in business, you must always predict what your competition will do next. Answer these questions to gain insight on your competitors:
- What are you most afraid your competition will do?
- Who is not a competitor now but might be in the future?
- What shift might happen in the buying habits of your customers that might make your product or service less appealing?
- How can the current economic conditions help your business?
- What emerging products or services might make your business irrelevant?
Once you answer these questions thoroughly, you will blend your creativity with scenario-based planning. This type of planning in particular will move your business from reactive solutions to proactive solutions– the key to long-term survival.
Would You Rather Survive or Thrive?
In business it is not survival of the fittest, but rather survival of the adaptable. Inventive marketing is about ongoing change, adaptability, and flexibility. When the pace of change in the world is greater than the pace of change within your organisation, your business will get left behind. If you are up for the challenge, consider these suggestions to stay ahead of the curve:
- Create an environment where creativity is encouraged and where solutions are implemented in response to specific challenges.
- Try using a challenge-driven approach over an idea-driven approach when brainstorming. This will allow your business to identify and solve challenges instead wasting time just thinking of new ideas.
- Challenges are the best way to ask your customers, community, and employees for help. This will allow you to measure the Return on Investment (ROI) of each challenge.
- Establish boundaries that will move things forward quickly when you find solutions. For example: Have funding set aside so you don’t have to struggle once a solution is found.
Albert Einstein once stated, “If I had an hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-nine minutes defining the problem and one minute finding solutions.” Be the company that adapts to this way of thinking and you are sure to thrive.
Do You Think Outside The Box?
Before your company thinks outside the box, perhaps try building a better box. If you have an eye on your competition, they are most likely watching you as well. It is your job to therefore build a better box and become unpredictable! When you develop predictable habits, you become an easy target. Here are some unexpected suggestions:
- Work with your competition. When people with different specialisations outside your business are brought together, breakthrough solutions will occur.
- Set the stage for friendly collaboration. Rather than spending time thinking of ways to emulate your competitors, focus on creating a one-of-a-kind customer experience and achieving your business objectives together.
- Share expenses by collaborating with others and getting bulk rates when purchasing supplies. You can also collaborate on advertising expenses that may be cost prohibitive otherwise.
- Post your challenges on your company’s web site and get responses from a diverse group of outside experts. Many organisations find that this is a useful tool because it taps into specialisations that might not exist within your specific organisation.
- Participating in professional associations will lay the foundation for more advanced efforts in collaboration and will help to establish your business as trustworthy.
Don’t Stunt Yourself
Constantly thinking of new ideas single-handedly can indeed be the enemy of breakthrough marketing. Stop limiting your new ideas to your personal area of expertise and try to bring together people from a wide range of disciplines, backgrounds, and experiences.When you dedicate energy to looking for opportunities that your competitors miss, you will be a market leader for a long time.
One of the biggest barriers to success is analysis paralysis. Take action! The simple stunts provided above are a proven strategy for the growth of a profitable business. When done correctly, these innovative marketing practices will start with challenges and end with added success for your business. And that’s really no stunt.