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Common Sense Marketing

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The marketing landscape is changing rapidly and dramatically. One of the driving forces to these changes, especially over the last years, is the economic environment. These economic and marketing realities require all businessmen, especially small-and medium-scale entrepreneurs, to take a closer look at the way they market their wares… whether they are products or services. Today, people talk about all kinds of marketing—guerilla marketing, relationship marketing, non-traditional marketing, grassroots marketing, permission marketing, etc. Yet one of my friends in business put it so well when he said, “Sometimes all you need in marketing is common sense. The problem is that common sense is not too common nowadays.”

Yes, we get overwhelmed with what we feel are insurmountable marketing problems. Especially when sales are down and way, way below forecast or at breakeven point.

What am I doing wrong?

Are there things I ought to do that I am not doing? Should I cut down on all my marketing expenses until I’m sure I’m doing the right thing? Where can I cut costs to protect my bottomline? These are questions we normally ask ourselves when our sales are down. And often, it is during these times that we must pull back and exercise commonsense marketing. What is common sense marketing? Common sense marketing is practical, doable marketing combining things you learn in textbooks and from other company’s marketing successes with your own company’s experience taking into consideration your own resources and the realities in which you operate your business.

The first rule of thumb to commonsense marketing is to go back to basics. Which means going back to your product, which may sometimes be a service. The nature of your product. The quality of your product. The pricing of your product. Everything about your product. Who did you have in mind for your product? Are they the ones who are actually consuming your product? What do they say about your product? Do you know? If you were just to choose one benefit of the product to tell these consumers about, what would that be? Is that benefit relevant or important to these consumers? Is that something they really want or is it a benefit that simply sets you apart from your competitors but is not meaningful to your customers?
Look at your packaging.

Does your packaging reflect the nature, quality and price of your product? If your product were a food item, does it look clean, safe and appetizing? How does your product look in the shelves vis-à-vis competition? In terms of appearance? In terms of size?

If you were considering the export market, does your product and packaging look world class? Are your prices competitive? How does your product look compared to the other products (does it belong to more or less in the same category as your product?) Does your product have literature that talks to a foreign market? What do your selling pieces look like: your stationery, your business card, your brochure, your handouts, and your logo? Remember, your customers, especially the foreign market, will get a sense of your professionalism and standards of excellence through your communication materials. This may cost you some money initially, but it is an investment well spent because it can mean new markets and increased sales revenues for you.
Most of you probably still cannot afford to advertise, so what you present and hand out become the advertisement for your product. Make each piece, therefore, help sell your product. It wouldn’t hurt to get professional help… an objective party to help you with your marketing plans and with your communication materials. Especially for family-owned businesses, it’s always healthy to hear from someone who’s not family. Some companies that can help you work out a marketing plan that is doable and measurable. Some company that can help design your selling aids and tools. In the end, it is still your judgment and decision, guided by Common Sense marketing that will prevail.

Source: BusinessLine, Vol. 1 No. 1, 2003

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