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  • Writer's pictureRandy J Robbins

Why Your Marketing Strategy Should Begin with Product Ideation, Not Sales Tactics

Photo by Lala Azizli on Unsplash

When people think of marketing, they think of advertising and promotion. A TV commercial, a billboard, or TikTok ads trying to pass as regular videos. Those elements are only at the end of a long chain of events which make the marketing process. Promotion does not sometimes happen until years after the marketing process started. When two college students come up with a business idea in their dorm room, it is a way the marketing process begins. Marketing is the entire process of developing a product and bringing it to the market. Our society conflates sales and marketing far too much. If you work in the white collar world, you have likely noticed every marketing job is a sales job. If marketing were nothing more than selling a product, there would be no four-year degree in the field. A marketing degree has courses in packaging and the supply chain because they are marketing.

There are many events people do not think of as marketing, which are part of the process. For example, a scientist working to create a new pharmaceutical. Truckers delivering products to a retail store. A statistician analyzing sales data for a product. These are all marketing activities.

While someone may come up with a business idea in a dorm room, most happen after researching market needs. A person or group does research on the needs of a demographic, community, or another group. They analyze past sales figures of similar products, competitors, demographics, and online analytics. Who is searching for what? What questions is a certain demographic in a certain zip code asking Google? What are the interest of a certain group in the target market on Facebook? Which type of videos get engagement on YouTube from the demo in question?

Once they recognize the need, the development process begins. This may be engineers and designers working together to make a product from nothing. It could be focus groups asking consumers what is missing in the market. From the identified needs, they develop a product or service.

To deliver a product with staying power, a brand is necessary. The creation of a brand is one of the key of marketing. This is every bit as important as the product. A developed brand is like creating a fictional character. Large corporations have enormous books describing their brand. It's personality, the culture, it's beliefs, it's why. Small businesses will often skip this and it is detrimental. If you don't know who you are as an organization, your customer definitely will not.

Some brands are recognizable because of the packaging they use. You see a WD-40 can from many feet away. McDonald’s sacks, burger containers, and cups always have the huge yellow arch. Service providers, like plumbers, use a fleet of the same vehicle. This creates a visual in consumers' heads. It increases the likelihood those people will use them if they need those services in the future. Testing your product upon its development is another piece of the chain. Procter & Gamble will visit people in their homes and allow them to test new cleaning products. They show movies to test audiences to guide editing. This is another step small businesses often ignore. You need to collect feedback before you even start. Do not wait until you make sales. You can avoid costly mistakes before the product comes to the market.

How do you sell your product to the consumers who need it? Do you setup a storefront and sell it straight to them? What about a website with no physical customer facing operation? Do you find distributors and allow them to find retail partners? Sell to industry wholesalers? Straight to retailers? In today’s world, there are a lot of options. Within those options are more choices about the supply chain. Choose the wrong channel or distribution, and failure is imminent.

Now you also have to decide how to price your services. Pricing is a balancing act between what you need to make your margins. What will allow you to be competitive? What are your customers willing to pay? If your price is too high, no one will buy it. If your price is too low, you may lose money or consumers may dismiss your product as cheap junk. There is a sweet spot and finding it is a key to the marketing process.

Now you can advertise, promote, and sell your product or service. There is a lot of content out there to consume on how you promote. But, please know if you have a product not selling, it may be because you skipped these other steps. Marketing is a long process with a lot of elements, affecting every corner of your business. We neglect these topics in online discourse. We focus all our time on promotion. This needs to change.

You may think the marketing process is over once you sell your product. No, still work to complete. You need to collect data and feedback. Talking to customers is vital. Surveys need conducted. Once you get your data, it is time to make adjustments. This may be version 2.0 of your product. It may mean adjusting processes for your service. Feedback from your customers and data will guide you.

This is a basic overview of the marketing process. It is a stream of thoughts on what I have seen people miss. We are doing a disservice, not talking about these elements more often in our online content. We filled the internet with content about landing pages, SEO and sale tactics. Experts in promotion with an excellent sales plan can fail if they skip steps.

We should start talking about these other areas of marketing more often. It is time to stop ignoring so many vital steps required for business success. We have a society of struggling small businesses. I How many of their problems would they solve by reviewing the marketing process from the top? What do you want to learn more about? What area do you believe is the most important?

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