Published 07th March 2011 | Marketing Planning, Marketing Specialists

Keep Up With The Market Or Disappear

Keep up with the market or disappear

I was at the “Technology for Marketing and Advertising” (TFM & A) event in London last week. An excellent marketing tradeshow, with many experts and luminaries talking about the latest and greatest trends in marketing.

Something in a presentation shocked me. It serves as a reminder of how fast the world is moving. According to Ashley Friedlein, CEO of Econsultancy, “60% of Apple’s 2010 sales came from products that did not exist 3 years ago”.

Consider this for a moment. Apple have been around since 1976! This got me thinking. Although not all companies are as fast moving as Apple, there’s a lesson here for businesses about keeping up with our market, with what our clients want (or need), with changes in technology. In fact with every dynamic that may affect our company, our customers and the market we work in.

I’m sure we can all think of companies that have not kept pace with the changing market. The UK is, to our shame, littered with the remnants of once great companies that failed to do so.

So, here’s a quick 3 point action plan to ensure we keep up with the times! Use these questions to prick your conscience every day:

1. What do your clients think of you?

Find out what your existing clients think – good and bad. Then act on it. It gives you the opportunity to talk about new services/products you might be thinking about offering and to find out what’s happening in their business.

Choose the best and easiest method of contacting your customers depending on how much time you’ve got, how many customers you want to reach and what you want to find out.

Many companies use online or email-based surveys (you can use our email system C4B Messenger to do this). Others use a telemarketing service to call them.

Using an external telemarketing company will give you a lot of objectivity and if done properly will encourage clients to be frank and not worry about offending anyone. Online surveys allow you to target a lot of people, but the questions need to be very direct and specific and the format doesn’t allow room for “open” conversations.

Whatever you choose, always make time to talk to your customers yourself. Find out about your existing clients…….and keep up!

2. Who are your competitors – and what are they doing?

All businesses face competition. The internet adds competitive pressure because it gives people looking for products and services like yours the power to find alternative suppliers beyond just the local area.

We advise our clients to accept this, and to use it to their advantage. As a business owner, you can find out a lot about your competitors on their website, at trade shows, from their advertising and from their blogs and newsletters. Look at what they are offering and how they market themselves. Find out the prices they charge.

Adjust your approach accordingly, not necessarily by copying what your competitors do, but by improving on it, or by developing an alternate approach that stands out. You may also uncover areas in which you can partner with some of your competitors to mutual benefit, for instance by referring customers to each other.

In particular, keep tabs on companies that you respect for their success or that are working at a level you are aiming to get to. Find out about your competitors…….and keep up!

3. What and where are the relevant industry events and seminars?

Seminars, tradeshows and events give you an excellent opportunity to find out what’s going on in your market. Networking with like-minded people, checking out what other suppliers are offering and learning from expert presenters about likely future trends are just some of the benefits of attending.

There’s always a cost in terms of time and travel but trade shows like TFM & A are free to attend. View them as an investment.

While being surrounded by like minded people is always beneficial, it’s also inspiring to be rubbing shoulders with the successful business leaders and ideas people in your industry. Hearing first hand what they have to say, and listening in to your competitors’ presentations also gives you huge insight into areas that would otherwise be closed off to you.

You also have the opportunity to network, develop relationships and exchange business cards! Then, linking up with these people through online networks like LinkedIn gives you the power to reach out to hundreds more people.

That and actually breaking the mundane every day cycle, has its own benefits. Find out about events and tradeshows in your industry sector, know your market…….and keep up!

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