Applied Marketing Vision: The company that sees the future, has a future.
Businesses, like species, evolve. And it’s not necessarily the fittest (or the biggest balance sheet) that survive, it’s the animal that best adapts to the environment that does. Use applied marketing to adapt.
Mother Nature is meritocratic. Natural selection comes from competitive advantage.
So how does a business sustain itself?
I would argue that it should study trends in its environment and select the strategies that will adapt the gene / brand.
It should be able to answer questions such as: What will the future environment for business be like socially, politically and economically? What influence will technology have on all three? Who will our competitors be? How will we win?
Forecasting these is acutely important for surviving as a business, as they are the environmental conditions that a sustainable competitive advantage must master.
Applied Marketing: When and where is the future?
Most business owners and CEOs spend so much time on their ‘urgent & important’ fire fighting that they have little time for ‘the future’: “That’s tomorrow’s challenge.”
But the future isn’t 30 years away. The future is here already. And it overtook those businesses that didn’t see it or adapt to it.
For example: Airlines TWA and Pan Am. Retailers Tower Records, Borders, Blockbuster, Tandy, and Hartee’s. Manufacturers Kodak, Polaroid and Daewoo. Professional Services like Arthur Anderson and even technology companies like Compaq Computers.
Dick Smith anyone!
There are so many ‘dead brands’ globally that a list would be into the 100s.
If you want to sustain your company over the next few years, and further, you really need to understand the (technologically driven) geopolitical & economic shifts, and how these will affect the attitudes and behaviours of people in your markets.
Market intelligence is no longer a niche backward looking play: Looking back at past performance to predict percentage changes. That was the case when change was at a glacial pace.
Market intelligence is a futurologist play, and who better to help business than those who study the past, present and predict the future of audience attention, attitudes, uses and behaviours and have invested in the skills and tools, than an ‘Applied Marketing’ practitioner.
Applied Marketing uses business marketing theories to understand customers, design product and brand strategies, and make decisions about pricing, promotion and distribution. Applied Marketing provides market research, consulting and expert insight for innovation.
Why are innovation and marketing important?
I’ll let the Godfather of modern marketing Peter Drucker, explain:
“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”
The Practice of Management, 1954
60 years later most management priorities in order are: finance, sales, production, management, legal and people. Missing from the list: marketing and innovation.
So where does a company go for Applied Marketing?
It depends on the company, but let’s say a medium sized organisation might be on the cusp of upsising or downsising it’ marketing and innovation resources.
It might be at this stage they are considering outsourcing.
Outsourcing isn’t for every business. However, if marketing and innovation are at the end of the above list of priorities or that your current marketing activities aren’t producing results, then it could be the right thing to do.
When done properly outsourcing your marketing can add value to your business.
What are the signals that you need to outsource?
1. You are unsure about customers and your competition
Unwrapping your market segment, their awareness, perceptions, usage and attitude to brands in your category and the decision-making process is critical to your marketing strategy. An ‘applied marketer’ will know how to define and target your customer, reach them and also have the skills to communicate with them and attract them to your product.
Similarly, you can’t build competitive edge if you don’t also dissect your enemy.
2. Your current marketing is invisible
If you have some expertise, you have a process, and you really know your market you may still be missing the creative spark to distinguish your message or the media you use to spread it.
If it doesn’t get awareness it won’t be understood, if not comprehended it will not be considered, if there is no conviction there is no purchase.
3. Lack of internal expertise
Marketing may seem like an easy enough process, but marketing requires a mastery of data analysis, planning, and executing strategies. It might be product, price, and distribution, but usually, it’s brand communication and customer experience: creative thinking, copywriting, social media and these days immense amount of digital skills.
4. You don’t have a process for your marketing
Marketing is effortful. It works best when it runs smoothly and consistently, and the best way to achieve that is to use marketing systems. These systems can be out of date, unloved and underused when internal.
What can be the result of outsourcing your business’ marketing?
1. Save time
Employing an internal resource takes time advertising, sifting through applications, interviewing, decision-making and familiarisation to get to the same point as a ‘ready-made’ ‘department’ it can utilise. Not counting the time it takes to explain the business and train them into the role.
If you outsource then they have all the skills and knowledge to get started straight away.
This shortens the time from ‘decision to employ’ to getting results in a matter of days rather than months.
2. Save money
Marketing consultancies costs are much lower than a salary for an equivalent full-time in-house marketing employee. For less cost a business receives a team of experienced marketing experts. One that pays for its own professional development.
3. Promotes objectivity
A really important advantage of using an outside team is that they are at least 1 degree of separation from the business. Because of their position and logical analysis, the outsiders see what the audience sees. This objectivity will be insightful to a lesser or greater extent, and so enable new strategic thinking.
4. Marketing will be a priority
As I mentioned earlier, marketing is one of the most neglected and non urgent challenges a C-site will be expected to act on. But with a softer economy, and softer growth and tougher competition and tougher customers it needs to be a high and urgent priority.
If a business hires another to provide a service, in this case marketing, you have taken care of the need without accepting the increase in workload. The brand can be assured a return on investment.
If you want to ‘see the future’ adapt / upgrade the process to fit the environment, and if you need to get help from experienced applied marketing experts, just ask.