The Third Most Important Skill in Business – The Ability to Sell to a Customer (Part 6) by Dr Strive Masiyiwa

__Your marketing strategy.

When I first got started, I sure knew how to sell, but I didn't know how to market… I must have been in business for about five years when I first really got into marketing. It happened during a particularly difficult time in our economy, when things were really down and business wasn’t really moving.

I tried to run some adverts in a local newspaper to create awareness of the
things I did, but things did not really move as I had hoped. And when people did call, I seemed to get the wrong type of customers to the ones I wanted.

"I really need to teach you about marketing," my friend Enoch Hwande said to me.

"Oh, you mean I should advertise more?" He was the Creative Director of a major international advertising agency.

"No I'm not talking about advertising. I am talking about marketing."

"What’s the difference?"

"There is a huge difference, and you will not get very far in developing your business, if you don’t learn the importance marketing plays in a successful business. Right now, you think all you must do is go out and sell, or bid for tenders. If you want to build a really big business, you must really evaluate what your understanding of marketing is all about."

"Teach me, please!" I begged him.

"Look, if you really want to learn, then maybe you should consider a course. Why don't you let me whet your appetite by allowing you to come and see a campaign we’re developing for one of our big clients."

Over the next few weeks, he opened my mind to what goes on behind the scenes. I listened to highly-skilled marketing executives discussing and debating every aspect of their “marketing strategy."

__It was as sophisticated as discussions with my engineers on a product. I was almost in awe. It opened my eyes.

I remember how I would go home and sit with magazines looking at adverts, and not the articles! I'd sit watching television so I could discuss the adverts with my friend.

Then I started to buy books and magazines until there were more books on my shelf on marketing than any other subject.

"Did you see the latest campaign from Coca-Cola? Can we get together this evening and watch it together? I need to understand what they’re trying to say."

I was fascinated by both the art and science of marketing. I learned that to develop a really successful marketing plan meant thinking "big picture" while also doing detailed research.

Today there’s a whole new world of information available to you in your market analysis. It's possible to find online DATA and research information, and also online advertising you can study. That’s a huge advantage I didn’t have back then. Overall, your marketing plan should at least discuss the basics:

# Your target market (Who and where are your customers… past, present and future? Be precise.)
# Your customers (What matters to them most? Price, quality, prestige, etc.?)
# Your competitors (Who are they, and why are your products better/different? Remember the role of perception.)
# Sales strategy (What’s the best way to reach out to different customers in your specific target market? Who do your customers trust?)
# Advertising (By now, can you tell me the difference between sales, advertising and marketing?)
# Customer support (Listening is so important. The value of your brand depends on it!)

Once I start a new business, I start to think of who is going to drive our marketing. It’s as important as who is going to head the finance.

To be continued. . .


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