Aside from having a good idea, entrepreneurs succeed or fail on their ability to market the idea. It is therefore important for a start-up business to appreciate the 10 tools in the Marketing Toolbox.
We used to call these tools the 4 P’s of marketing but we have moved on from this rather simplistic model. The modern marketer’s toolbox would include at least the following 10 main tools to better link markets to a brand.
These tools are:
- Marketing Research
- Segmentation and target market identification
- Brand and Brand portfolio management – this would include recommending new products and services
- Integrated marketing communications
- Logistics – including distribution
- Internal on-brand behavior and culture
- Systems and processes to add value to customers and consumers
- Positioning the brand in the mind
- Adding physical tangibility to service brands
The first tool we will look at in this issue of KickStart, is Marketing Research. Before investing time and money in a business it is vital to have some confidence that there is a demand for your product or service. This demand must not be wishful thinking but a concrete demand -meaning that there is not only a willingness, but also an ability to pay for the product or service. We must also be sure that the demand is strong enough to sustain the business with cash flow over the foreseeable future.
Marketing Research is the tool that can be applied to help define your immediate market, its location, rational and emotional needs, price barriers, distribution requirements, package sizing and so on.
Marketing Research forces us to minimize our risk by gaining insights into the needs and wants of potential markets – customers and consumers. Such research should also include the strength and weaknesses of competitors.
A practical definition of Marketing Research is to gather, record and analyse data from the market. This could include data from potential customers as to what they would like, from suppliers or data about competitors.
There are formal and informal ways of collecting such data and, while more scientific research usually costs money, an entrepreneur must at least invest some time and energy to collecting and analysing information about his or her market. From this information one can then gain some insights to ensure, more confidently, that there will be an uptake of your new product or service.
Observing people closely and listening carefully to customers is all valid research. Another inexpensive way of gaining insights is to identify opinion leaders in your type of business and to ask them for their experiences and observations. This could be done in interviews or in a group session. We applied this type of research before launching the Vega School.
Without any Marketing Research you are driving blind and an accident awaits. As the famous advertising man, David Ogilivy once said, do not use research like a drunkard uses a lamp post – in other words research can be used to delay decision making!
by Gordon D. Cook
co-founder Vega School of Brand Leadership