The science of marketing

Alan Calverley, director of Department of Marketing, looks at what should underpin your marketing strategy.

As I write this several, advertisers in the half-time slot at the Superbowl have spent more than $5 million for one 30-second slot. And here’s me thinking that TV was dead as an advertising medium.

Yes, we all know that the marketing landscape has changed significantly over the past few years. Every January there’s a new list of trends and marketing ‘must dos’ for the year ahead; both automated technology and artificial intelligence (AI) have featured in recent years while 2018 was dominated by GDPR – incredibly mundane in comparison. And often, it is all too easy to jump on the bandwagon in an effort to appear en-vogue and be seen to be marketing your business or brand.

Yet, while marketing continues to evolve, fundamentally it is just the same. The principles of planning and strategy remain for those who specialise in the science of marketing. And yes, it is a science not an art.

Marketing is sometimes the least considered aspect of a business. All too often it is given to the sales manager to handle, or added to the workload of the office administrator. I’ve even heard of it being handed over to a family member because they know how to use Facebook. Ask yourself: would you ask an unqualified person to do your accounts? Unlikely, I’m sure. The same respect and value should be attributed to marketing.

Marketing has many definitions. Personally, I prefer: the customer representative inside the business. But what does this mean?

A marketer will have a greater understanding of what your customer wants in terms of product, price and customer service, for example. Yet undoubtedly, regardless of platforms, mediums and tactics, effective marketing boils down to effective strategy.

To determine your marketing strategy consider these three questions: who is your target audience?; what is your position in the marketplace?; and does the marketing strategy need to have an objective?

The need to understand who your customer is will be key to the overall plan. Is it a fabricator, house builder, or social housing provider? Each would require an entirely different approach, not least in the language used to communicate with them.

Are you offering a premium product at a premium price or are you all about high volume sales? Whatever your business, it is crucial that your target audience understands your business proposition and how you can benefit them.

Maybe your objective is to increase market share by 10% in the next 12 months, or launch a new product at FIT Show 2019 and gain 30 new customers. Only by setting these objectives can the strategic plan be revised and reviewed in order to hit targets.

Once all three questions have been answered, and a strategy formed, then a list of appropriate marketing tools can be adopted inline with your business needs rather than the latest trend.

It is also worth remembering that the marketing budget should be set after the strategy. If a presence at the FIT Show is crucial for the launch of a new product, then this needs to be prominent in the marketing budget; an exhibition often represents a B2B company’s largest annual marketing investment.

I believe that the next few years will bring about a return to transparency within businesses. Authenticity always makes for a compelling story and the written word – be it in a brochure, online content or in traditional printed media – will continue to make a vital contribution towards an organisation’s growth. But whatever route your marketing takes, make sure it is based on strategy and there’s a budget to support it.