Ask SCORE: A New View of Marketing and Sales

Ask SCORE
A New View of Marketing and Sales
(Hint: It isn't just about Twitter and Facebook)
By Richard Walton

Contrary to what you may have heard, Marketing and Sales success is not all about getting on Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace. Each of these social networking sties is a valuable marketing tool, but this is not where you should start to develop a strong Marketing and Sales Plan. In this article, we will show how to use our system of 1) starting with the basics, 2) moving to the intermediate steps, and 3) using advanced techniques to full implement a strong plan of action. We call this our MBE program, first the basic step of MAINTAINING what we have now in the way of customers and products to meet their needs, second to BUILD on that with carefully developed products to meet the needs of additional buyers in the present market segment, and finally to EXTEND our reach beyond today's products and markets and fuel additional company growth and profit. For each step in the process, we will introduce a power tool that will enable you to immediately implement the plan and begin developing more sales and profits.
In Step 1, MAINTAINING what we have at present, the key is understanding what buyers are looking for now and in the future. This is accomplished through the use of Customer Relationship Management, or CRM. CRM enables the savvy marketer to learn as much as possible about the customer, not just the names and email addresses of the buyer's staff, but to track their inquiries, orders, complaints, and general market Intel. Using CRM enables the firm to get close to the customer and stay abreast of their needs and ultimately to anticipate their emerging needs and provide products and services to meet them, proactively. This is the surest way possible to maintain a strong business relationship with a worthy buyer.
Step 2, BUILDING from the base of what we have at present, is accomplished by fully developing and penetrating the present market segment (that group of buyers who have the same needs as our present customers, a technique known as market segmentation) with our present products modified as needed to meet changing customer requirements (that group of products including the original model but also any modifications, a process known as product differentiation). Using MS (market segmentation) and PD (product differentiation) as power tools to more fully penetrate existing markets is a building block for more sales and profits through more directly meeting the needs of customers, not with the same product sold elsewhere, but with a product (and the allied services customers want and need) that more directly meets their needs.
Step 3, EXTENDING is the process by which creativity and entrepreneurship are brought into play to explore and exploit new opportunities for product line extension and new customer development. This step goes well beyond market segmentation and product differentiation into whole new areas of both production and marketing/sales. As such, it represents the extended potential of the firm to expand its reach both in the depth and breadth of its activities. It therefore represents a launching pad for high growth rates and organizational transformation. The power tool we have developed for this step is the market opportunity and product capability match in which the firm deploys qualified personnel to work outside of the present business to fully explore and ultimately to set the stage for exploitation of capabilities and opportunities as they are discovered through creativity and entrepreneurship.
The time for full utilization of Twitter and Facebook can occur anytime in this process, but always in combination with the process we have outlined above, in which the firm is steadily becoming more knowledgeable about its markets and what its customers want and need, and how the organization can utilize its present and future skill sets to both produce and market its full range of capabilities to effectively and continuously meet or exceed customer expectations.
A special note to our readers:
Due to a typo is last month's breakeven calculation, the amount of sales needed to equalize revenue and expenses was wrongly stated. A firm operating with a gross profit margin of 25% and fixed costs of $15,000 monthly would require $60,000 in monthly sales to breakeven.
We regret any inconvenience this error may have caused our readers.

Mr. Walton teaches Entrepreneurship and Quality Management at Frostburg State University. He is also Assistant District Director for SCORE, Western Maryland, and the President of ERMACORP, a Hagerstown based Management Consulting Firm. He may be reached at 301-462-9850, or by email to Richard@ermacorp.com.