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Starting with sustainability

I know I am going to sound like a tree hugger – but before you can think about marketing you have to look at the market and what conditions are like for everyone (especially your prospects and customers).  And then you can calculate what’s in it for you. Sales led companies don’t think this way. They dream of riches beyond the dreams of avarice – all we have to do is build a killer product and get everyone’s attention.  When the market starts to get crowded we need to make sure it’s our product everyone thinks of first.  And when all the products in the category start to resemble one another we need to keep up our sales volume by discounting future sales – lockin and load.. The sales led approach is well documented. By behaving unilaterally what results is environmental degradation.  Its why fishing fleets can’t be trusted to fish without government supervision –because they’ll empty the sea before they admit that you can’t keep taking out without putting something back in.  And its no good pointing the finger at how badly all your competitors are behaving. First and foremost the purchase price for being able to sell is that the conditions under which we sell need to stay the same or improve. Not just for us but for everyone.  Even if that means that competitors are drawn in. A healthy habitat has competition for resources. It’s what makes us and our products good.

Managing the category – will you take responsibility?

Start with the category – what is the customers’ experience of buying and using products. Is the experience improving or deterioriating? This is where your marketing Ps come in.  Is the product improving or becoming commoditised? Is the customer getting smarter at using it – or can they use it without having to think about it?  Is it easier to buy – is the product more readily available – how hard do they have to look for it when they need it?  As for purchasing  does price add to their experience or detract ? If they have been trained to buy on promotion-d oes incentivised purchase make it a pleasure to buy or a chore?  Sometimes promotions make you buy more than you want – or so confuse you with what is the best offer that you lose sight of why you wanted the product in the first place.  If you are launching into the category for the first time you would have to do basic spadework like this. The danger for established products is that they forget to get back to basics.

How to make customers’ lives better – the sustainability argument

Then think more widely about the environment that your customers and channel partners are inhabiting. Is it a more or less certain place to live and work?  What do they worry about? What is brightening up their lives or making their lives more difficult.  Brands that pay attention at this level are transformative – those that try to sell you what they have always sold you start to sound like stuck records.

Looking after the environment isn’t the soft option. It’s the category leader and category drivers stance. And although many will disagree with me – just because none of your competitors are doing it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.


Designed by Matthew Pattman