The World has Changed: Marketplace Repositioning
01.10.2011 / Posted in Articles, Communications, Strategy
Our world is dynamic.
Large, sweeping events change the way people, businesses, industries, and countries function. The recession that started in 2008 is one example. September 11, 2001, is another. And beyond the large-scale, headline-grabbing events there are the evolutionary daily, hourly, moment-to-moment adjustments that occur as conversations happen, technologies get updated or launched, science and research uncover new findings.
Over time, whether through big or small moments, the world changes.
Stuck in the Status Quo
When the world changes, the marketplace changes. Right? Yet many businesses get stuck in the status quo as the landscape changes around them. Companies far and wide keep doing the same things in the same ways they’ve done them for years. This is especially true when it comes to marketing. Companies look at their past marketing activity, make a few tweaks and adjustments based on their internal budget numbers, staff bandwidth, and the like, and plow forward. And when they don’t get results, they get incredibly frustrated.
Take the 2008 recession—one of the sweeping events we mentioned earlier—which changed the marketplace for everyone. What worked gangbusters for marketing in 2007 did not work in the years that followed. And even if a recession hadn’t affected us all, other changes would have. (For example, the rise of social media wasn’t due to the recession, but it has certainly changed the landscape for business.)
How to Know a Business is Affected
No matter what big or small world events are happening, here are a few signs that a company’s marketplace may have shifted away:
- Marketing activities aren’t showing the returns they presented in previous periods
- Prospects/customers are choosing competition increasingly, especially competition new to the market
- Sales are stagnating or beginning to decline
- The cost of sales is escalating with minimal return
- Sales cycle length is increasing
- New business has become increasingly difficult to acquire; most revenue is generated by existing customer bases
Making Adjustments: What to Consider
Businesses that are experiencing any of the above signs should consider how they are positioned in the marketplace and determine how to make adjustments. What they’ve been doing for marketing is no longer working; the longer they wait to evaluate and overhaul their marketing activities, the worse the damage will be: Marketing changes take time to implement and show results.
A few things companies can look at in repositioning in a changed marketplace include the following:
- Audience: The person or department that purchased a particular product or service line may no longer be who or what it once was. Is the company marketing to the right people? It could be that the responsibility for the product or service has moved into a different part of the organization, or it could be that purchasers originally were forward-focused tech types but the product has now been adopted by the mainstream?
- Messages: Review them. Are they still appropriate? Customers buy for different reasons over time. For example, the product may have been the only one in its category to start, but now there are similar products on offer—and the messages may not be adequately differentiating the item from its competition. Or perhaps the marketing messages are focused on flash and fancy, where value and cost-consciousness are the new mode among the company’s key audiences.
- Channels: As categories expand, new channels open for products and services. Are there new channels for marketing the offering that weren’t open before? For example, some products evolve over time into products ideally sold through resellers. Alternatively, could a business offer its product or service on-line today, where previously it made sense only to market it through retail locations (and would doing so give it an edge on its competition)?
- Tactics: If the messages or the audience has evolved, the activities a company undertakes to market a product or service must change accordingly. Are the tactics in the marketing plan the best ways to get the new messages to the new audience? Are there new tactic options that there weren’t in the past?
Any of these considerations may require making sweeping changes to the brand or, in some cases, the company. It’s a big effort, yet it is critical for the product or service to thrive. Sometimes, companies just have to do what has to be done.
And sometimes, these inquiries and the resultant research and determinations force a company to seriously consider whether the offering is worthwhile to continue in changed conditions. These are hard decisions, but serious and clearheaded review of the marketplace and its changes over time can help a corporation survive and grow with a changing world.
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