Once the initial adrenaline rush of establishing a business has passed, most entrepreneurs begin worrying about the bread and butter issues required for making their businesses sustainable. Usually, this involves building a company reputation that ensures a place in what could be a crowded, highly-competitive sector.
What this boils down to, says Ravi Govender, Head of Small Enterprises at Standard Bank, is ensuring that the business meets the time-honoured ‘Four Ps’ of marketing. The ‘marketing mix’ comprises of product, place, price and promotion. Apply these elements to the satisfaction of your market and success is bound to follow.
Lessons about having the right product available, at the right place, at the correct price, and promoting its use, is something that the six finalists of the ‘Think Big – Building Business Champions’ TV series have brought into their businesses, regardless of whether they manufacture sophisticated machinery, produce organic fruits and vegetables, formulate cosmetics, sell fast food, or operate retail or wholesale businesses.
“There is no doubt that the ‘Think Big’ finalists, selected from a pool of 400 hopefuls, monitor their businesses and rate them according to the ‘marketing mix’ defined by the four key pillars of marketing. Essentially, the entrepreneur that wins the R1 million cash injection to take their business to the next level will be the entrepreneur who has mastered these principles,” says Mr Govender.
“The four key activities of marketing must be brought together and blended to produce results in the chosen business sector. The good news is that they do not require the allocation of massive budgets to be implemented successfully.”
The roles of the ‘Four Ps’ in building a business are:
Product – To be accepted in the market, a product has to satisfy the requirements of the purchaser from the first point of contact through to after sales service. The product must therefore incorporate the design elements, features, packaging, and quality that customers demand.
· Place – The location of the business, shop, or outlet must be visible and easily accessible to customers. Depending on the nature of the business, this may also need to be supported by a distribution network and suitable logistics for getting the product to the customer.
· Price – Keen pricing is essential in highly-competitive sectors. Attention has to be paid to pricing, discounting, credit and cash purchases as well as credit collection.
· Promotion – Having the correct products, at the right place, with the correct prices is of little use if people don’t know about you and your company. This means using advertising, marketing and other promotional activities to convey the value and benefits of your products or services. Activities can also include direct marketing, personal selling and the internet.
“Using the ‘Four Ps’ to get the message regarding your company across can be done affordably. If your company operates in a specialised niche market where it is easy to identify and target potential customers, your marketing activities can be extremely focused. It could then merely be a matter of undertaking a few promotions,” says Mr Govender.
Examples of these activities include:
Ensuring that your company name and logo clearly identify what you do. This makes it easier to have prospective customers recognise you as a potential supplier.
· Visiting potential customers and leaving behind company brochures and business cards.
· Having a website that concentrates on your products or services, and encourages people to contact you. This is also a great place to describe your business successes and customer case studies or testimonials. (But, first make sure your customers don’t mind having their company names, details and stories used.).
· Becoming a member of professional associations or industry bodies that would attract customers. You can also advertise in their newsletters and make personal contact at networking functions. Many of these organisations also have websites where the products or services you offer can be described.
· Identifying other websites used as networking tools by professionals to identify businesses and people they may need to contact for assistance.
“These initiatives are a great starting point for tapping into various networks with large customer bases. Add to this mix local media advertising, use of leaflets, special offers and great service, and the benefits will be just as good.”
“Put equal effort into each of the ‘Four Ps’, or if necessary emphasise some more than others and you will achieve great results. Add excellent service to this and you will be using the most powerful differentiators available for marketing your business,” says Mr Govender.
‘Think Big’ episodes can be viewed on SABC 3 at 9:30pm every Thursday, with a repeat every Sunday at 4:30pm. You can also visit www.standardbank.co.za/thinkbig to view the show. For an array of additional tips and tools on how to start, manage or grow a business, visit bizconnect.standardbank.co.za.