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The Marketing Solution

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CONDUCT A CONSUMER AND TRADE SURVEY

If you have not done one at all, it’s time you took this step. But if you’ve done one before, then you need to compare those results with your latest data. The basic consumer survey I recommend is called the User Attitude and Image or UAI survey. This study gives a very good idea of consumer perception of your product and your company; their purchasing and usage habits; their knowledge of your product and their ideas toward its unique selling proposition. The trade survey is a study to determine how far your product is distributed among the retail or sales channels that you are utilizing. The survey also identifies how the retailer handles your product at the warehouse, and how much the retailer actually sells your product relative to your company’s pricing policy. Trade surveys are useful because they help determine the problems and the positive elements associated with the product, your sales representative and your company. The results here should become the cornerstone of your action steps. That either means completely or radically changing your product or policy, or tweaking and tuning some parts of the product or policy to suit the market.

REVIEW AND IMPROVE YOUR MARKETING COMMUNICATION STRATEGY

You should consider reviewing your present advertising agency, its capability and shortcomings, and its continued value to your enterprise. If there is no problem here, then work must commence immediately to rebuild the brand image and equity if it is found to be damaged, or enhanced if its “glory is fading.” The amount of money spent on media needs to be reviewed. Assess if the right media strategy is being employed. Determine if you are able to achieve wide and efficient audience reach for every peso spent. Moreover, you must determine whether the relationship between market performance and advertising expenditure is cost-effective. To regain precious lost ground will require a “market driven” approach. It may make sense to look at reinvesting a portion of your net profit behind the brand’s marketing communication.

REPACKAGE YOUR BRAND

Unlike big companies, this is not an easy decision to make for many small or medium entrepreneurs. For the most part and because of sentimental reasons, it is often difficult to let go of your original concept or recipe even if already deemed obsolete. Sad to say, many products either need to be revitalized (the easy part), thrown away (worst part) or extended to other variants (sometimes and often the best way if it is really a good product) to enjoy longevity.

REBUILD, EXPAND OR REPENETRATE SALES CHANNEL

With either a new or a retrained sales force, business success for many of the fast moving consumer products (FMCG) will be due to a strong sales channel presence and coverage. A strong presence is a result of a consistent relationship building programs conducted with your retailer. A strong coverage calls for an active program of reaching out to more retailers where cost efficiencies and productivity can be better realized. A strong monitoring system should now be in place to tell you how the product moves in the marketplace. The Japanese “just in time” attitude should be applied so that the retailer earns more even with narrow margins because their monies are not tied up with sitting inventories particularly if the product enjoys a high loyalty level. Getting back lost accounts may sound and look simple. But before doing this, review your list of accounts and payment history. Sometimes, it may not be worth getting them back. However, just in case it shows that the company created its own difficulty in collecting its receivables, then this route needs to be fixed before it is a key success factor.

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

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