As Michael sees it, the best one-word definition of marketing is “fighting.” Well, I admit that caught me by surprise, but the more we talked about it, the more sense it made. As Michael described it, there are three basic elements to successful fighting:
- Use the right weapon
- Hit the right target
- Use the right amount of force
Using the right weapon is critical. Your basic weapon is the message you put out, but (as most military texts note), weapons can be either strategic or tactical. Let’s look first at the strategic message.
This is the message that positions you, your products and your services. This will normally focus on one of three objectives. For new businesses, the message will be the primary tool for establishing one’s position in the market.
For established businesses, it will aim at keeping clientele aware and involved (although it may also be used to upgrade the business’ image with a more expensive product line or new services). The third focus (one we all hope to avoid) is to overcome a bad image.
When an employee sours customers’ experiences, you can fire the employee, but you must do something proactive to win the disgruntled customers back.
Hit the right target. The tactical message, on the other hand, motivates customers toward a specific opportunity (usually a sale, but also an evening of entertainment, or a new product offered on a trial basis).
Obviously, the choice of weapon will relate to the choice of target. While it is important to understand the difference between strategic and tactical marketing targets, other considerations must be made.
Few businesses target every person or every area. If you were selling Sponge Bob items, you would target small children, young parents and doting grandparents, but you would not target people in their twenties with no children. Understand what portion of the populace will buy your product and aim your merchandising at them.
Use the right amount of force. Excessive force (which here is measured in dollars) can be a waste of your resources (which are not unlimited). For example, if you owned a business whose specialty was $25 oil changes. You might not want to do a mass mailing every week.
The average driver gets about four oil changes a year. You would advertise to him 13 times per oil change. A better “force” might be to post a $29.95 price and mail a $5 off certificate quarterly. Consider your options carefully. Select the force (frequency and vehicle) that will let your weapon hit your selected target. Plan it like Eisenhower would have planned a military campaign.
This may seem simplistic, but if you think in these terms, you will usually find the marketing approach that best fits your business objectives.