“You’re a marketing and branding person, what do you think, is marketing an expense or an investment?”
This is a pertinent question if you are a SME manager or owner. Usually, this kind of questions come as a result of a myopic management. Let me explain. If you are a very good accountant, you will not understand exactly what does the marketing do. You will get all kinds of payment and settlement requests from him and maybe you will notice he/she is very active on the social media networks, but you will not have a complete understanding of his function and vice versa.
Marketing is either an expense or an investment in the future of the company, one of the two!
What does an investment in marketing brings?
Customer retention – an exponential market is great, but not all of us are operating on growing markets, so retention is an effective means of sustaining a company’s cash flow and profit at considerably lower costs.
New prospects – Business is first about making a profit. Marketing is essential for a company’s sustainability, any sale needs a priori lead generation process as a support. That makes a good marketing specialist.
Visibility and market share – although the paradigm has changed, there are still many companies looking for market share before profit. It depends on industry and strategy. But an effective marketing communication helps you ‘bite’ more of your market. In eCommerce visibility is mandatory.
Brand equity – Sometimes the brand worth more than the product. An iPhone is a recognised brand all over the world although is build in China. If you have a strong brand you will be able to outsource production anywhere and make profit. A good product with an unknown, unpopular or damaged brand will not sell.
Employer Branding – is not a priority for SMEs. It became a priority when started facing the lack of workforce. Many companies need dedicate brand messages to attract potential employees and is an important focus of the marketing function in many companies, especially in a high tech, highly specialised sector.
Marketing for b2b is a distinct field in marketing. Some strategic considerations
I think it’s important to mention, from the very beginning of this article, that marketing for b2b is a distinct field in marketing and involves a practical and theoretical specialization.
I consider this distinction important for several reasons, some of which I will mention tangentially in the article, but the main one is the obvious feature of professional service companies, a different market segment. and
Second is the marketing mix, which is quite different. Take for example some Ps: Product -> services, Placement –> could mean website and the marketing content, Price – may be fixed fees, rate cards, or flexible rates, Physical Evidence – offices, furniture, own car, office dress code, and Promotion – which channel varies from sector to sector.
There are other notable differences in regards to the strategy. We have the competitive strategy and the marketing communication strategy. I would like to refer to these strategic differences with priority, the most important, in my view, being the competitive one.
At the marketing communication level we talk about different marketing strategies depending on the client’s profile, whether it is from business to business or business to consumer, and the behavior of buying services. Understanding the customer is, of course, the key element.
Some critical literature review is mandatory in order to address this topic. I would recommend Michael Porter’s Generic Competitive Strategies and Blue Ocean Strategy – Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne as a start.
Many established firms notice that many of the new contracts come as a result of existing / former or repeat business recommendations. This is not exceptional in this sector. Recent studies and my own professional experience places repeat business and recommendations as the main source, the second source is PR and networking and number three is the internet. Obviously this is not a rule, it may very well not be the case with your business, it’s all relative.
WHY DO YOU NEED MARKETING?
So, why do you need marketing? Your business needs marketing because can not be dependent to a single source of leads, because a company exists only when it has an online presence and market visibility. Also, because a strong brand don’t come to existence overnight and the internet becomes more and more important in generating new leads.