We are 17 years into the 21st century and a lot has changed in as far as marketing tools, methods and practices are concerned.
By RABISON SHUMBA
The face of business has evolved and and so has the customer demands. When change happens, it is important for every marketing practitioner to move with that change otherwise you become a liability to your business and wonder why you seem to play victim to your competition all the time.
It is in this era that you now have to say goodbye to some traditional marketing methods no matter how sentimental they are to you. Traditionally, marketing focuses on three key responsibilities: understanding the customer, how and where to market and building the brand promise.
These responsibilities are now transforming into new dimensions that require marketers to function and collaborate differently. We are talking about the new marketing imperatives of understanding the client as an individual, having a clear view of the client experience journey or the systems of engagement and lastly, integrating the company’s culture and brand to be authentically one.
Below are a few keys for you and your business to stay relevant in this era we are in.
Innovation: The master key for the future
The key to staying in the game is to keep on evolving and innovating. This is a word that has of late been used very loosely without really considering how much should be invested into it.
When you launch a unique product or service, it is important to note that some, if not all, of your competitors are already studying, copying and putting their own unique additions to your design or concept. Hence, your product becomes obsolete the moment it hits the commercial market. The only way to stay in the game is constant innovation of your technology or design so that it always stays above your competitors. Consumer needs are fast changing. Customers are craving for speed, portability, efficiency and so on. As a marketer, you must be the influence necessary in your business to bring about what your customer is demanding.
Cross selling of products: Best way for customer “lock-in”
We must never think of business around a one-time transaction or single interaction with the customer. Usually the customers like to buy an extra product which complements or enhances the original purchase. Offer the customer a variety of products which are both essential for the customer to enjoy an additional benefit. While it sounds like an intelligent strategy, sadly most marketing professionals and businesspeople tend to completely ignore and curb their own profit-making opportunities. If your business is about health insurance, it is about time you bring on board other insurance-related products so that the customer does not need to move from one end of town to another looking for additives to the solution you have given them.
Don’t try hard to sell: Create a need
If there is one thing that the customers hate it’s someone trying to sell them something that they don’t need. All the old techniques of door-to-door selling have become obsolete and the people tend to run from sellers. The best strategy to follow is to create a need for a particular product. Use your marketing strategies in a way that the customer automatically feels the need for your product and gravitates towards it. It is important to note that some customers may not know what they need until you raise an awareness on it. When planning a marketing strategy, the need to sell the product to a customer should be the least priority.
Spend adequate time on product development
The most important part of a business is to develop a product that is superior and provides the users with never-before-seen features. When Apple developed their iconic products like the iPhone and the iPad, they showed the world how proper time spent in developing a product pays in the long run. Whenever thinking of designing a product, make sure you try to come up with something that exceeds the customer’s expectations. 99% of the products fail to please the customer not because they were poorly marketed but because of their poor quality. No matter how good you are as a marketer, you have to be confident of what you are marketing.
Digital is the new frontier: Don’t ignore it
People no longer live in their homes, they actually live online. As a 21st century marketer, you will be fooling yourself to think that having billboards all over town is the only effective way of capturing customers. Social media is a great way for you to find out what your customers want, and most importantly, what they are buying. The interesting thing about social media, and the internet in general, is that people are absolutely unafraid to tell you exactly what they think. Use this to your advantage.
In addition, collecting demographics is now easier than ever before. All you need to do is monitor what products are being purchased and see what trends they are setting. Remember, your customer controls the flow of products today just as they have in the past.
Despite the many new opportunities available to marketers in the 21st century, some tried and true marketing techniques still work. We cannot discard them at the drop of a hat. Ultimately, successful marketing is about identifying a target market, understanding its needs, and communicating the business’s compelling messages through multiple channels. These marketing messages all convey how consumer needs can be met by the business’s products and services.
l This article was contributed on behalf the Marketers Association of Zimbabwe, a leading body of marketing professionals promoting professionalism to the highest standards for the benefit of the industry and the economy at large. For any further information kindly contact email@example.com or visit the website on www.maz.co.zw.