Let’s cut to the chase shall we? To succeed in business you need to constantly out-think and out-maneuver your competitors in order to out-sell them. Business success is about identifying a market segment you can dominate and then owning that segment.
If marketing is critical to the success of any business — and believe me, it is — how do we reconcile that with the reality that few business leaders actually understand marketing and give it the focus it deserves?
While selling is relatively straightforward and intuitive, marketing is not. Marketing is complex and nuanced. That’s why it mystifies so many, and yet it’s absolutely critical to business success.
The marketplace is a volatile place. Like a field built on a fault line, it can crack at any moment. Sometimes, that results in economic anxiety, but at others, the cracks can reveal some stupendously profitable new market.
- Have deep-rooted knowledge of your target audience.
Business follows people. The deeper you understand the people in your emerging market; the easier it becomes to serve them the right product.
For Boris Mordkovich, the founder of Evelo, an electric bike company, says, “Success in entering new markets and taking over comes when you spend heavily in getting to know your product’s target audience, and aggressively serving them your products based on the customer information you have on them.”
“Not everyone is your target customer,” he added. Previously, we were heavily targeting the 20s and 30s for our electric bikes. But fortunately, due to our heavy investment in knowing our target audience and how to serve them, we accidentally discovered that our main customers were on the older side: 50 or 60, baby boomers, recent retirees, and that singlehandedly helped us build on the market.”
- Differentiate or die.
As a business owner, it’s a necessity to have a differentiated value proposition. But differentiation isn’t just about focusing on what you’re best at. Often it’s more about positioning: how you define and segment the market.
For example, how did WhatsApp, a four-year-old company with one app, 55 employees, and no revenue to speak of garner a half-billion highly engaged users and end up being acquired by Facebook for $19 billion? After all, the market is flooded with thousands of apps, including dozens of messaging apps, some from the likes of Google and Apple.
The answer is part focus group of one, part market segmentation, and part development. Its founders wanted a simple messaging app that didn’t store messages, collect user data, or bombard users with ads, games, and gimmicks. They thought others would want that, too. That was their value proposition.
If you can’t distinguish your company and its products against the competition in a way that’s meaningful to customers, you’re doomed to slim profits and minuscule market share. And just because you say you’re different doesn’t make it so. If customers don’t agree, forget it. That’s how marketing connects products to customers: through a differentiated value proposition. Without it, you’re doomed.
- You can never afford to lose a customer.
There’s a lot of confusion over cause and effect in business. Too many entrepreneurs think it’s all about them and their employees. It’s not. Not even close.
There are actually three and only three major stakeholders in any company: investors, employees, and customers. Investors give employees money to make and sell products to customers. Without customers, employees lose their jobs, and investors lose their money. No customers, no company.