Arguably, the ultimate goal of a business should be to please its customer. A happy customer equals more business, and more business equals profit, growth and longevity. But having happy customers means more than shaking a hand and smiling. If your business can’t back up its customer service without solid strategies and fundamentals, such as sales, pricing, operations and distribution, then it’s going to run into trouble.
Consider this bittersweet example. Let’s say that you create a clever video for your product, and the video goes viral online. Getting customers, your No. 1 marketing and business goal, has just been achieved. Within a week, your video has a million hits and your product has thousands of orders. With that many orders, your ability to fulfill them—and assure customer satisfaction—is right there in front of you. It presents challenges, but it’s also the dream scenario. Do you have a plan in place to scale your operations and turn this moment into long-term success, or will this moment break your business?
Unfortunately, many businesses lack the capacity to handle this situation and subsequently collapse under the pressure. The businesses that succeed, however, take the necessary measures to ensure they are properly prepared. These are the businesses that know success doesn’t end with getting customers.
The following list is everything you need in order to have a complete marketing plan. At the end of the day, getting customers is something you should always be focused on, but it is not the only measure of success.
1. Sales Strategy
Whether your product is a home gadget or an insurance plan, you need a reliable method for closing the sale. A well-developed sales strategy helps you distinguish your product or brand and, if done right, can even give you a competitive advantage. The following factors will help you realize your short-term sales goals and get you ready for long-term success.
- Sales Team: Decide who will sell your product. Will it be an internal sales team, telephone solicitors or your manufacturer’s representatives? If you’ll be hiring salespeople, build a team that will relate to your customer base. For example, if you’re selling to other businesses, you want your team to act more professional than a normal retail salesperson.
- Gaining and Maintaining Customers: To build and preserve your customer base, your sales strategy should address the handling of customers at all buying and consideration stages. There’s a difference between the thought processes of someone who just heard of your product and another person who is trying to decide between you and your competitor. Recognizing this distinction helps align the sales team’s efforts with your other marketing efforts.
- Long-term Sales Goals: Consider how long you will sell your product or service, what is your target revenue for both your company and your product, and evaluate the business sales cycle.Long-term survival is built on solid short-term strategies.
Once you have potential customers intrigued, you don’t want to scare them away with unsuitable pricing. That means prices should not be low enough to make your business unsustainable, nor high enough for customers to ignore you entirely. The goal is to make enough of a profit that allows you to both cover your costs and expand your business. To find the right balance as part of your pricing strategy, make sure you understand your market and product inside and out.
The following are some important factors to consider when pricing your wares:
- Who’s Buying: You must get to know your customers’ demographic and learn everything you can about them. Are they concerned about price? Or is convenience their utmost priority? Are they willing to pay a premium if the circumstances are right? Learning the answers to these questions can help you determine a valid price.
- The Competition: Consumers are experts in comparing prices. Therefore, you should seek ways to beat your lower priced competitors. In your research, make sure you attempt to discover your competitors’ cost of doing business. If you’re paying more than your competitors to do the same thing, then it’s time to reevaluate how you do business.
- Financial Breakdown: To determine the price of a product, consider the costs for producing, marketing and selling the product. This will help you find your margin, as well as help you hit your target revenue.
3. Operations Plan
Your operations plan may be broad, as it is meant to address how you will deliver value and quality to your clientele from many standpoints. This can include manufacturing, business processes, logistics and more. In sum, an operations plan helps you bring order and efficiency to your business.
The quality of your brand or product is critically important, and is dependent on how efficient your operations are. Once you determine how to best run your business, you show your customers how it benefits them through marketing and other efforts. That’s how you create value.
Additionally, the value portrayed needs to be apparent from the point of advertisement all the way to your customer’s experience with the product or service. For example, an online liquor outlet can market its product with an aim to “impress.” Upon delivery, the purchase arrives in a luxury satin bag. The aim is to boost customer satisfaction before the customer even sees the bottle. When breaking down your operations strategy, ask yourself these questions:
- What can you do to ensure your operations are set up with the goal of making an impression on your clientele?
- How will your operational design give you a competitive advantage?
- How will you manage your partnerships with your vendors and affiliates?
- What will you buy and what will you make in-house?
- Who will you hire to properly fulfill your operational expectations?
- How will you beat out your competitors in relation to cost, value, timeliness and convenience? Which of those four factors will you focus on, and which will you put less focus on? Striking a balance is good, your financial limits might force you to prioritize one over the other three.
4. Advertising and Promotion Strategy
Don’t forget to promote your product or service, which can help build a foundation for your sales team to work from. You can do this by promoting your product or service via social media, paid advertising or via “earned media” through public relations.
Also, don’t forget about testimonials, which are pivotal for giving customers confidence in what they are buying. Think Yelp reviews. If a company has rave reviews, customers can end their search on you.
A good trick to understanding the customers’ desires is to always consider the customer’s perspective with every decision you make. For instance, if you were to order a product, how long would you be willing to wait for its delivery? A week, maybe two weeks max? That’s the importance of distribution. Consider your target market to determine which distribution avenues are best suited for your business, including how you will secure those outlets.
6. Business Costs
Break down your internal business costs and compare them to the cost of your service or product. If you’re wondering what comprises your business costs, here’s a list of common expenditures that your business may be making:
- Office Space
Once you have determined how much money you’re spending, you can use it to calculate your overhead against your anticipated net income. Make sure that your net income comfortably outweighs your operating costs.
As you embark on the game plan to serving your clientele, follow the guidance above, and remember that satisfying your customers is all about proper preparation. Spending your days worrying about how to get more customers is simply not enough. You need to be prepared to have proper production, distribution, marketing, sales and customer retention strategies. While this is a lot to think about, creating a proper marketing plan—one that takes all portions of your business into account—will allow you to scale when your customers discover your product or services.