Assist me in figuring out typical marketing problems. What should I look out for as signs or indicators? What basic approach do you recommend for trashing problems of marketing? – Greg Oseghale
As an in-depth response to your three-pronged enquiry on the subject (detecting, indicators, and basic approaches of resolving marketing problems) can not be well accommodated here due to lack of space, I hope the review in this piece will go some distance in ‘smoothening some rough edges’ about this topic. I do not subscribe to any business concern, group, or individual trying to grapple with marketing problems themselves, even if merely through a ‘do it yourself’ stunt, as this may even compound the problem. The best bet is to contact a certified marketing consultant, to facilitate the introduction of an exercise that would help unravel the reason(s) for any hitches, and proffer solutions through a Marketing Audit.
A Marketing Audit entails a systematic examination of the marketing entity’s objectives, consilia, organisations and performance, typically carried out by an independent assessor. The essence is to identify weaknesses in current marketing operations and plan necessary improvements to correct them.
In the light of my more than two decades in the business of planning, creating, promoting, and disseminating various aspects of making the public accept whatever is being presented to it, I am quite confident to emphasize that the on-going public ‘bashing’ of Mr. President and his team, hinged on a clear ‘disconnect’ between the government and the governed and a resultant spade of criticism, is clearly a marketing problem. Another challenge before the present administration lies in the wide gap in public perception of its delivery. Reprieve can easily come through applying marketing techniques to rekindle what seems fast being eroded among Nigerians – Trust.
With governance comprising ‘Product’ and Nigerians making up the ‘Consumers’, this definition of ‘Product’ is quite relevant in this regard – “Every want-satisfying attribute a consumer receives in making an exchange, including any offering that can satisfy a need or want”. Offering here is exemplified by goods, services, experiences, events, persons, places, properties, organisations, information, ideas, and of course governance as applicable to Nigeria’s situation.
The present state of governance is tantamount to an “institutional branding” predicament, which can be easily resolved through a comprehensive ‘marketing approach’. Details of this, as elucidated in my presentation, “Re-awakening favourable public support (federal government of Nigeria) – A reputation management package”, may be for another day.
As regards hints on proffering solutions to typical marketing problems, I prefer to spotlight this here from mainly a commercial marketing perspective, as it is an angle which many are obviously familiar with. When a marketing problem looms, any of these could likely be holding you back: Not having a marketing strategy or plan; low perceptions, unfavourable attitudes and behavior, lack of organisational ability; unhealthy marketing budget; low quality of products; inability to keep existing customers; constraints of selling more to existing customers; difficulties in attracting more customers; decline in customers’ patronage; declining market share; complete communications gap between the marketing people and those who create the product/service being sold; need to develop new products; lack of time for marketing; insufficient fund to spend on marketing; reducing customer complaints; unfavourable pricing; falling marketing staff morale; not taking advantage of new technology; mounting personnel costs; the economy limiting the business; inability to remain in the market or closure of outlets.
When a marketing problem becomes imminent, here are some likely indicators or signs:
- You are faced with not being able to sell more products, in spite of their obvious good quality
- Your sales force is working hard, but generating new leads have become an uphill task, and closing deals takes very long time.
- You now prefer to spend more time on customers’ issues, not on promotion and selling.
- When you tell people about your business, they do not seem to bother sending you referrals.
- You get most of your clients through word of mouth referrals, probably conveyed by satisfied customers.
- Potential customers know that they need what you offer, but hardly know you exist.
- You discover your customers are uneducated about realizing that they require what you offer. Memento, creating contents which aid in educating potential customers often aids in convincing the target audience about helps which come through your offering.
Regard these as basic steps (in a nutshell) for trashing typical marketing problems. (a) Define what the marketing problem really entails. (b) Consider alternative courses of action required in solving the problem. (c) Analyze these alternatives to determine their strengths and weaknesses. (d) Adopt one of these alternatives as course of action, for recommendation.
In conclusion, while analysing a marketing problem, any marketing consultant ‘who knows his onions’ must not overlook these key areas:
- The environment. This entails considering the environment in which the affected concern is operating. Any of economic, social, political, and legal components which affect the environment may embody threats or opportunities which may affect it.
- The industry. As entities which have marketing problems are likely to fall within an industry, impact of factors like rivalry among existing competitors; threat of new entrants; threat of substitute products, bargaining power of suppliers, bargaining power of buyers, etc, within the industry must not be neglected.
- The entity having marketing problem itself. This has to be analysed not only in comparison with the industry averages but also internally. Areas of concerns like business objectives, constraints areas, management philosophy, financial condition, organisational structure, corporate culture must be probed.
- Marketing strategy. The unit within this entity that handles marketing related issues has to be examined, to decipher the marketing strategy already in place, or if at all. This should be analysed for suitable objectives in comparison with likely existing terms of agreement, soundness, and attainability. Other aspects such as marketing mix and decision support systems should also be considered for any alignment between it goals and specific target markets within focus at the time.
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