Processes – One of the Seven Ps of Marketing

Processes in Marketing

Not to be confused with the over-arching Marketing Process, here we are talking about one of the Seven Ps of the Marketing Mix for service businesses.

We’re all familiar with the famous Four Ps, namely product, place, pricing and promotion. But this list can be expanded out to the Seven Ps for services marketing. Services marketing is relevant to all people-facing businesses, like hairdressers, professional services, restaurants and bars, etc.

In this context, processes in marketing refers to how your business delivers its service at the customer interface : through each step of the customer experience.

Imagine, for example, entering a restaurant and being met by lovely staff who take your order competently and without undue delay, striking the right balance between friendly helpfulness and efficiency. Your food is served in a timely manner and the evening goes off smoothly, with no glitches. This would be an example of excellent processes in marketing.

Now imagine, on the other hand, a restaurant where dishes you didn’t order are served, the wine isn’t delivered without you having to remind the waiting staff, the bill is incorrect and so on. This might be how processes in marketing can go terribly wrong.

Processes
Processes move the customer through their experience

In a very large customer interfacing business, such as a theme park, issues might include :

* How to manage the queuing system

* Alternative ticketing options

* Location of restaurant and toilet facilities around the park

* Pathways and signage – how the customer actually gets around the park

Here’s a real-life example. A person recently booked a room in a hotel for a wheelchair-bound relative. The hotel was specifically asked if they had wheelchair accessible bedrooms. The receptionist was delighted to confirm that they did and the booking was taken. On arrival, it was discovered that neither the bar nor the hotel restaurant were accessible, both having several steps to be negotiated to gain access. This is a classic case of poor processes in marketing. Clearly, the receptionist should have known to point out these obvious hurdles during the booking process (telephone interaction).

We all know the adage that if you have a great experience you’ll tell three people, whereas if you have a bad one, you’ll tell twenty!

Make sure your processes are sound – that your customer experience is as it should be and that your business delivers its service in a correct, timely and uniform manner. But watch out : this is not to say that you shouldn’t deliver your service with personality. Quite the contrary. If you are confident about your processes, this in fact liberates you and your team to be personal and attentive in your delivery. And that’s wonderful for branding and gaining positive testimonials.

Processes in Marketing

Processes are about knowing what to do and how to do it, especially in services marketing. Do you work your customers through their experience of your business in an efficient, logical and friendly manner? Heck, is the coffee machine where I would expect it to be?

Read about Physical Evidence, another of the expanded Seven Ps of Marketing.

Physical Evidence – One of the Seven Ps of Marketing

Physical Evidence as Part of the Marketing Mix

OK, so we’ve all heard of the Four Ps of Marketing, right? But in addition to the well-known Product, Price, Place (Distribution) and Promotion, there are three others to consider if yours is a service business – Physical Evidence, People and Processes. In this post, we’ll look at the first.

Physical Evidence is about what it says on the tin – the idea that your service business needs to “look the part”. How can an intangible service achieve this? It’s about how your premises and other assets (along with your service delivery) match your branding message.

Physical Evidence
Physical Evidence is one of the Seven Ps of Marketing

A simple way to understand this concept is to think about the last restaurant you walked into. Typically, a restaurant is not located upstairs, because the need to walk up a staircase, peek inside the restaurant and retreat back down when we don’t like what we see is something that makes people uncomfortable. We prefer restaurants at street level, so we can comfortably look in and walk on by, if we so choose. We like to view the menu, see if there is a good crowd inside, check out the ambiance and get a “feel” for the place.

A friend of mine, who drives a lot for a living, once told me how he would never buy too big a company car, because it might give off the wrong impression to his clients.

To take a silly example : How would you feel if, when visiting a medical device manufacturing facility, the reception area in which you are seated, while waiting for your appointment, left a lot to be desired in terms of cleanliness? Impressive physical evidence? I wouldn’t think so.

Let’s imagine you want to open a pizzeria with a fun theme, rather than the traditional rustic “Italian Family” feel. In this case, you might design a bright, funky decor to reflect this concept. Physical evidence should be, therefore, a key cornerstone of your branding message and should fit with your pricing, promotion and other elements of your services marketing mix.

But the relevance of physical evidence extends beyond simply the bricks and mortar outlet your business might take place in. Imagine if you were a creator of signage for vehicles and didn’t have a good quality sign on your own van. Or if you were a website designer with an outdated, poorly optimised, non mobile-friendly website of your own.

Physical evidence is one of the Seven Ps of the Marketing Mix for service businesses, along with product, price, place, promotion, people and processes. Like the others, it cannot stand alone, but great physical evidence can greatly help your business set the right tone and thrive.

Review your Physical Evidence

So, whether you are providing kayaking tours at the riverside, running a small family hotel or involved in financial services, take a look around your premises (or where and how your service is provided to your customers) and see if your physical evidence matches what your customers would like to experience. You’ve heard it before, punters love to comment on how they “didn’t like the look of the place”.

How do your premises and other facets of your business look? Are you portraying the right type of physical evidence that will entice your target market to do business with you?

Read this thread on Quora about the differences between marketing products v services.

IBYE Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur 2015

Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) – Countrywide Search Begins (Official Press Release)

Competition to find Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur, aged between 18 and 30, launched by An Taoiseach and Minister Bruton

Up to €50,000 investment prize-fund for three local winners, through Local Enterprise Offices.

The Taoiseach, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation  and the Local Enterprise Offices have launched the search to find Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE), with a total investment fund of €2 million available nationally and up to €50,000 on offer for three local winners.

Aimed at those aged between 18 and 30 in every county, the competition is an integral part of the Action Plan for Jobs and is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices.

IBYE
IBYE 2015

The Taoiseach and Minister Bruton urged all young people with a start-up or a business idea to apply through their Local Enterprise Office before 31st July. The competition is free to enter, and further information is available from the Local Enterprise Offices (www.localenterprise.ie) as well as at www.ibye.ie.

The first stage is a county-based competition, with a closing date of July 31st through the Local Enterprise Offices, leading to the naming of the Best Young Entrepreneur in each county. This will be followed by eight regional finals, with one young business-person being crowned Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur later in the year, at the national finals in Google’s European HQ in Dublin.

Up to €50,000 will be awarded to three winners in each county. The winners at national level can then receive up to an additional €50,000 and over 400 young entrepreneurs will also win places at regional Business Bootcamps with mentoring supports, to further develop their business skills.

During last year’s highly successful inaugural competition, over 1,000 applications were received, 400 young entrepreneurs took part in Business Bootcamps and 93 young entrepreneurs throughout every county in Ireland won cash investments for their businesses.

At the first-ever National Final, Eamon Keane of Xpreso Software in South Dublin clinched the overall title of ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ for his parcel delivery software company, ahead of runners-up from the tourism and food sectors.

The aim of the initiative is to support a culture of entrepreneurship among young people in Ireland, to promote entrepreneurship as a career choice and to encourage Ireland’s young people to set up new businesses which will ultimately create jobs.

Part of the effort to attract applications from young people both in Ireland and abroad will be a comprehensive social media and marketing campaign.

Launching the nationwide competition, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD said:  “This Government is determined to support jobs, enterprise and local recovery, and make sure that work pays.  Our vision for Ireland is to be among the most entrepreneurial nations in the world and to be acknowledged as a world-class environment in which to start and grow a business, including for young people with bright ideas.  ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ is a unique, interactive and challenging competition, but with clear and tangible results, from self-development and networking to the valuable financial aid available to category winners.  Increasing entrepreneurial activity is a core theme of the 2015 Action Plan for Jobs with the aim of doubling the jobs impact of start-ups in Ireland over the next five years.”

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said: “Two thirds of all new jobs are created by start-ups, so if we are to create the jobs we need we must support more entrepreneurs to start new businesses. That is why we have placed start-ups right at the centre of our Action Plan for Jobs, and put in place new measures like establishing a new system of easily-accessible supports through the Local Enterprise Offices.

“Part of this plan is also fostering a stronger culture of entrepreneurship and promoting start-up business as a career option for young people. That is what is behind this new competition to find the best young entrepreneur in every county in Ireland also ultimately Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur. Last year as part of the judging panel in the inaugural IBYE I was overwhelmed by the quality and the energy of the young business-people who took part in this competition. I firmly believe that IBYE can be a crucial means of encouraging more young people to consider entrepreneurship as a career choice and ultimately create jobs. I urge any person under 30 who has a business or a business idea to contact your local LEO or visit IBYE.ie and apply to become Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur for 2015”.

The deadline to apply for this year’s Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition is Friday, July 31st and the full details are available through www.ibye.ie or by searching #IBYE on social media and YouTube.

For further information on IBYE, contact your Local Enterprise Office.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur 2015 (#IBYE)

Website: www.ibye.ie

Social Media: #IBYE

Branding your Business

Branding your Business

Branding your business is about placing your product, service or the business itself clearly in the minds’ eyes of your target markets.

It’s about helping your potential and current customers to build an image of what your business, service or product represents in the market. Ultimately, branding is about making your product or service appeal to your target market, by differentiating it in an attractive, compelling manner and advocating its benefits and value.

We can readily relate to the branding work of major international businesses. Think of car brands, for example. We have an image of what a BMW represents, as we do for a Ford or any other well-known brand. Read this interesting case study of how Skoda used a SWOT Analysis to re-position its branding.

Read my thoughts on Applegreen petrol stations in this post.

When it comes to smaller, local businesses, achieving branding clout can be a little more tricky. Clearly, a local business does not have the luxury of a large budget through which it can emit positive branding messages.

Branding your business
Branding positions your product or service

This is where word-of-mouth comes in, supported by the increasing role played by social media.

Where once branding your business was predominantly determined by communication emanating from the business itself, increasingly it is subject to analysis and comment from the market. You might like to state that your brand represents X, but if the social media world has decided it’s really more along the lines of Y, then that’s it!

In today’s market, more than ever before, it’s the actual actions and delivered service or product that influence decisions of consumers and buying organisations alike. Your performance must match the branding message you are putting out. Do so and your market will react positively. Do not and the social media world will tell you quickly that your performance does not match your branding. In that scenario, the market will be only too pleased to tell you what your brand really represents.

“When your business says it, it’s just communication. When your customers say it, it’s branding”

So keep developing your brand and your message to convey its values. But also keep communicating in both directions with your target markets : listen and learn from them what their perception of your brand is.

Tweak. Repeat.

And get into video marketing.

Video is a wonderful way of communicating your ‘vibe’, an essential part of your branding. This is communicating your brand in a more personal manner. Stick your video up on your website and share it out across social media channels. As well as directly helping your branding, it’ll increase traffic to your site!

Branding your Business – A little on Colour

Of course, it is just one element and there are no hard and fast rules, but I think most of us get a little amusement out of what different colours represent when it comes to branding your business :

Blue : Trustworthy, dependable, secure, serene, universally well-liked.

Red : Aggressive, energetic, provocative, passionate, danger, indebtedness.

Green : Health, freshness, serenity, natural, calming.

Yellow : Optimism, positivism, light, warmth, creative, energy. Note that yellow is the first colour the eye sees [often employed in PoS].

Purple : Creativity, mystery, sophistication, spirituality, nostalgia, sentimentality.

Pink : Energy, youthfulness, fun, excitement, less expensive, trendy.

Orange : Cheerful, exuberant, fun, vitality, childlike.

Peach : Peaceful, enriching. [often employed in healthcare, restaurants, beauty salons].

Brown : Earthy, simplicity, durability, stability, dirty or hiding dirt.

Black : Bold, powerful, classic, sophisticated, expensive.

White : Simplicity, cleanliness, purity, health-related.

Keep in mind that branding your business is an ongoing effort – a two-way thing going on between you and your target markets!

Target Marketing – Visualise that Persona

Your Target Marketing Personae

In Target Marketing, for a business-to-consumer (B2C) enterprise, you should try to paint a picture of a persona that represents the actual real-life market you are hoping to develop.

Taking into account factors like family status, number of children, age bracket, income level, motivations, behaviours, etc., you should try to build a picture of that special person for whom you hope to solve a problem. Of course, your business might cater for more than one target market, in which case you build two or more distinct personae. The point here is that, if you want to communicate with the right type of person for your business, you need to be able to picture that person in your mind’s eye. In this way, you will more carefully consider your marketing content and the media across which you send out your content.

Target marketing
Pursue representative target market personae

This is not to say that you will refuse a sale of your product or service to somebody who does not precisely fit your established persona. Of course not. It simply means that you will direct your energy and resources solely at clearly defined target markets.

So your target market persona might be a 50 year-old single lady living in Dublin, who plays tennis and likes to lunch out with her lady friends. Or yours might be a young couple, with two children under the age of 6, who own a Volvo saloon and like to go cycling. Yours might have enjoyed the now defunct Mooney Show on RTE Radio 1, or might always have been more of a Moncrieff on Newstalk listener.

Target Marketing – Its Place

Don’t forget that target marketing comes third of the four elements that make up the Marketing Process. It is preceded by Situation Analysis, where you line up what you’ve got and what not, what you’re great at and what not, etc. A SWOT Analysis should form part of that step. Then comes Marketing Research, where you find out all you need to know about the market as a whole, competitors, etc. Only then does Target Marketing take centre stage, as you look at all your cards and realise which market segment(s) your offering will suit best. After all, marketing is about offering solutions to your market. Finally, the Marketing Mix is where you settle on your product, its pricing, distribution and promotion.

Marketing Research – Step Two of the Marketing Process

The Vital Role of Marketing Research

So you’ve carried out your Situation Analysis as the first step in the Marketing Process. Now it’s time for some Marketing Research.

Marketing Research is about finding out what you feel you don’t know enough about. That might be competitive offers, potential distribution channels, consumer behaviour, and so on. But it’s also about challenging and validating what you feel you do know. Or disputing.

Marketing research is about joining the dots. The dots between what you know and what you don’t. The dots between your customers’ wants and your planned project. Here are some ways of achieving this.

Marketing research

1. Focus groups.

Invite a group of people that might make up your one or more target markets to come and discuss their wants and needs. The idea here is to tease out what makes them happy and not-so-happy about providers in the market, whether that includes your business or not. The focus group is not about discussing your particular product or service. Rather, it is to talk about the marketplace as a whole and maybe you might spot some opportunities as a result of the session. Asking about your specific product or service will only result in skewed responses, as people will naturally give you the answers they feel you’re looking for.

2. Questionnaires.

If you have access to people’s email addresses, use a service like Surveymonkey to carry out marketing research through a number of questions. Vary the questions between yes/no, multiple choice and sliding scale types. Always leave an open “add your comments” box at the end.

3. Competitors’ online presence.

In today’s market, there is a ton of information readily available on your competitors, their offering and, indeed, their pricing. Dedicate some time to browsing their websites and social media platforms. Subscribe to their e-newsletters and go browse reviews of their businesses on third-party sites, like Tripadvisor. As a rule of thumb, I suggest you ignore reviews from people who’ve only ever posted one.

4. Government Agencies.

Depending on what sector you’re in, there’s loads of (often free) research available from the various industry-supporting Irish government agencies, such as Enterprise Ireland, Fáilte Ireland or Bord Bia. Go browse what they’ve got on sector- or market-focussed research, covering size of market, trends, players, etc. Know also that these agencies organise overseas trade visits, where you can learn a lot about what export markets require from your business and where opportunities may lie.

5. Get out on the street.

If your market is one that’s predominantly offline, then get off your seat and take a walk down the streets of your town or city. Go in to stores that are relevant and take a good look at what’s on display. Come back several times. What moves and what does not? Where are the pricing levels? What’s the branding saying to you? Marketing research does not need to be fancy stuff.

6. Anonymous shopping.

Whether on- or offline, work through a purchase with competitors. Learn how their process works and get a fell for the ‘vibe’ of shopping with other businesses. Learn where you could improve upon the experience.

7. Feedback forms.

Pro-actively request that customers complete feedback forms. Read and learn.

Marketing Research – Avoid Presumptions

There are lots of ways of gathering useful marketing research and many of them do not have to cost anything other than your time. Remember what a friend of mine once said : “Presumption is the mother of all f*** ups!”. Carry out research to make sure you aren’t guilty of making too many.

Situation Analysis : The ‘Now’ of Marketing

Situation Analysis – Where Are You At?

One of the bigger challenges facing any marketing trainer, like myself, is holding participants’ attention while discussing the role played by what we call “Situation Analysis”.

While carrying out a Situation Analysis should be the first step (and then regularly repeated), it can be so much more appealing for training attendees to jump straight to the exciting part that is the Marketing Mix – discussing product, price, promotion, and so on.

But it’s the Situation Analysis stage that should direct us along the path of the Marketing Process towards developing a marketing plan. This first step is where we learn about and evaluate political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental information that might impact upon our plans. Essentially, it’s a critical review of our current business situation. We need to be able to identify internal and external forces that may influence the performance of our business and what strategies we might pursue. We equally need to assess our current and future strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and strengths, aka carry out a SWOT Analysis.

Situation Analysis
What to consider during a Situation Analysis

A Situation Analysis could unearth issues like legislative change coming down the tracks that might provide us with great opportunities or, perhaps, curtail revenue generation from some existing services. We can devote time to investigating recent trends and what might happen next. Perhaps we can spot possible future products and services that we could offer to the market that might just give us a head-start on competitors.

Situation Analysis – What’s Involved

Really, the Situation Analysis is all about looking at both the micro- and macro-environments that impact upon or potentially could impact upon our business. So, we might consider looking at issues under the following headings, while carrying out a Situation Analysis :

Company – What we’ve got internally and what not (resources).

Customers – Which type of customers we’ve got and which not. What other market segments exist?

Collaboration – The value we attribute to our suppliers, partners, bankers, etc.

Competitors – What they’re up to, good at, not so good at, etc.

Context – The environment in which we are trying to do business – legal, technological, etc.

All critical stuff.

SWOT Analysis – A Valuable Business Tool

Of all the business tools out there, the SWOT Analysis is perhaps the best known. More interesting, perhaps, might be to know how many business owners have ever actually sat down and objectively carried one out!

The SWOT Analysis is an integral part of the first stage of the Marketing Process. Knowing the Strengths and Weaknesses of your business, as well as being aware of and alert to the Opportunities and Threats in the market, can be of huge benefit to any business owner. This is especially true of the sole trader or micro-enterprise owner, as he or she may not have anybody else’s eyes, ears and opinions to fall back on in the early days.

How many pub owners didn’t notice what was going on over the past ten years in the Irish economy, or, if they did, failed to spot the opportunities to react to the threats and continue to trade well?

The SWOT Analysis looks at two internal factors in a business, namely the Strengths and Weaknesses. This might be termed the “easy” part of the exercise and they are as they are. Often, however, the challenge is to recognise and acknowledge them. Then external factors, represented by Opportunities and Threats, are considered. This is where it can get tough. It’s clearly much easier to spot one’s own strengths and weaknesses, but the real business value here is in the “what if” scenarios.

Spotting opportunities in a market is the hallmark of a great business owner. Seeing the threats coming down the tracks in time to adjust, equally so.

SWOT Analysis
SWOT Analysis looks at Internal and External Factors

Completing a SWOT Analysis

Given the difficulty that can be encountered in remaining objective while completing a SWOT Analysis, it is strongly advised that business owners get a second person to help out. And no, not a family member!

Look at factors such as resources (personnel, funding, etc.), facilities, location, product offer, branding, pricing levels, expertise within the team, innovation, legislation (existing and pending), market trends, competition, market dynamics, online presence, etc. Study the relationship between your business and its customers. Develop a picture of the whole and then steer in the best direction for you and your business.

Marketing Process – The Structure Behind Ideas

The Marketing Process – Your Strategy

Play word association with ‘marketing’ and many will respond with ‘advertising’. Others might come up with ‘promoting’, or even offer up ‘Facebook‘ nowadays. Rarely will somebody utter ‘marketing process’.

And yet, as small business owners and marketeers, we should be thinking more about the Marketing Process as a whole rather than simply its exciting promotional element. So bear with me here.

In marketing jargon, there are four elements to the Marketing Process – the strategic steps through which we should go when looking for direction, ideas and actions.

First, there’s Situation Analysis. Here, we look at the marketplace as a whole and what resources we have, how our business, product or service stacks up and what trends are out there that we could be taking advantage of. One part of this step is the good old SWOT Analysis. What are our Strengths and Weaknesses? What Opportunities and Threats are out there?

Second, there’s Marketing Research. Here, we carry out research into what competitors are offering, or what current and potential customers are looking for. Think of it as validation of what we’ve discovered during Situation Analysis, or as a means to answering the questions that will inevitably have popped up.

Third, it’s Target Marketing. Armed with the kind of good information that the first two steps will have furnished us with, we should now have a sound picture of the marketplace. It’s now time to pick and choose between the various market segments and home in on the one or more we feel we can best serve.

Fourth (and only having completed the other steps), it’s time to get to the juicy bit – the Marketing Mix.

Now, having worked methodically through those first three (less appealing) steps, we can make better decisions about product offers, pricing levels, distribution channels and promotional mix. Why? Because we’ve learned so much already.

I like to call these four steps “Now, Check, Aim, Fire”. Note how, along with the fourth, the first three don’t stop. They are not a simple once-off exercise; they are ongoing.

Marketing Process
The Marketing Process – Now, Check, Aim, Fire

‘Now’ signifies looking around and seeing where you’re at. ‘Check’ is about researching and validating what you believe to be true. ‘Aim’ is for finding your preferred target markets. Finally, you ‘Fire’ your mix of product, price, place and promotion at that or those target markets you’ve identified.

The Marketing Process

Check back over the coming months for more detailed posts about each step.

Video on Facebook Pages – Get into It

Updated March 2019

Now we all agree that posting text only on our Facebook Page is a total no-no, right?

Photo posts work much better, gaining greater reach and, critically, more engagement. However, you might be missing out on an even more powerful way to engage your audience. Video on Facebook Pages is, in fact, the way to go.

I decided to do some basic research into this and found, unsurprisingly, that the figures do indeed back up this notion. It really is ever more about video.

Source : Buffer.com

So what I did was check back over the last eight months of posting on six Facebook Pages to which I have access. These Pages are all from different, but consumer-oriented (B2C) sectors. Each Page is marketing to consumers, rather than business-to-business (B2B).

Now, knowing that organic reach on Facebook has been declining over the past year or two, I looked for a post on each Page that had a reach of approximately 1-in-6 (the oft-quoted figure for organic reach) of its fan base.

I allocated this random post a reach of 1.0 and proceeded to compare all the following posts’ reach to that figure. In other words, if a subsequent post reached twice as many people, it scored 2.0 and so on. Note that all boosted posts were ignored – I was only interested in the performance of organic posts. Then, I averaged out the performances of the 6 Pages, as if they were, in fact, just one single Page. Still with me on this?

Video on Facebook Pages
Get into the habit of posting video on your Facebook Page

Here’s how it panned out.

Baseline photo-only post :     score of 1.0

Average photo-only posts :    score of 1.3

Average post with video :      score of 3.6

Essentially, having taken some 500 posts into consideration, video posts can be seen to have reached almost 3 times as many people as photo-only posts. Shouldn’t you be posting more videos?

 Video on Facebook Pages – How To

With your smartphone, simply shoot video on it and upload it directly, without recourse to a laptop.

Indeed, these days you can even cut off the start and finish within your Gallery function, without needing an app. In this way, you can place the phone on a stand, hit the record button, walk to your desired location, do your thing, then walk back, turn the camera off and simply chop out all the tooing and froing afterwards.

However, if you’d like to brand the video, through a title, captions and credits, add music and backgrounds, cut and splice, etc, then upload your video to your laptop and create a proper end product, I’d recommend Wondershare Filmora*. It will absolutely satisfy the needs of most micro-enterprises.

And YouTube is full of video tutorials on how to use this wonderful tool.

By the way, one last thing.

Your audiences want to see you on screen, so bite your cheek and get used to being in front of the camera. Yes, you heard me!

*Last time I checked, a once-off lifetime license cost US$60.