Manufacturers: How Regularly Should Review Your Marketing Strategy?
People are creatures of habit and business decision-makers are no exception. Once a strategy or way of working is in place, people tend to stick with it year in, year out. And the pub philosophy about these matters is if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But is this really true for marketing? Is it enough to conduct the same sales and business development activities indefinitely and continue to achieve good results?
Unfortunately, for most manufacturing businesses the answer is no, and the uncomfortable truth is illustrated by the fact that too many SME manufacturers struggle to meet their sales and growth targets. In these cases, it isn’t marketing itself that is the issue, but that consumer practices, technologies, and marketing techniques move on. It is why I recommend businesses review their marketing strategy at least every two years. Reviewing and dissecting your marketing techniques tweaking tactics, removing things that no longer work, and introducing new strategies, on a regular basis, is a good way to change your perspective and stop your approach to sales going stale.
Microscopes and telescopes
I like to think of the two main perspectives on marketing being like looking down a microscope or looking outwards through a telescope.
1) The microscope approach is very much focused on operational and tactical issues. It looks at your own business needs, your short-term goals, and the inner workings of your business. For businesses like this including most SME manufacturers in the UK marketing activities are usually restricted to functional and tactical activities, such as creating brochures, maintaining a website, updating social media, or creating exhibition stands. Marketing messages frequently refer to, me, or us, and not as often to you. Bluntly put, looking down the microscope makes marketing about your business, and not about your customers.
2) The telescope approach, on the other hand, looks outside your business and beyond the present moment into market trends, as a whole, and where the future is heading. It considers the challenges, needs, and problems faced by your customers, what your competitors are doing, where their strengths lie, and what their weak points are, and how technology is changing your sector. Looking through the telescope imbues marketing with strategic purpose, allowing businesses to embark on large-scale campaigns, driven by business intelligence and external observations.
Why perspective matters
I have compared the two approaches as contrasting attitudes to marketing, but in the real world this isn’t strictly the case. The best marketing strategies i.e. the most successful and profitable ones use the telescope to understand their market and analyse the genuine needs of their customers, and then refer to the microscope to devise real-world messages and solutions that address these problems, using the skills, assets, and resources at hand.
The reason that marketing strategies go stale after a couple of years is the natural tendency for introspection and the equally natural preoccupation of business leaders with the inner workings of their own company. It is easy to forget that there is a world outside the shop floor, and a grander perspective beyond fulfilling your present order book.
Bespoke marketing advice for manufacturers
We provide tailored marketing advice and strategic support for small to mid-sized UK manufacturing businesses, helping them refresh their perspective on marketing and discover down-to-earth strategies which deliver genuine uplift in new business sales and revenues. If you’d like a fresh perspective on marketing, would like to discuss your growth targets, or are interested in making your marketing strategy work harder for you, please don’t hesitate to give us a call today.
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