I asked him how his product was positioned and where his focus was on the market.He told me, and in doing so mentioned 3 industries, 3 market categories and 4 sub market segments, 4 or 5 target audiences and a similar number of problems they address in each of the 3 industries.I told him that this isn’t a focus.It’s a hedging of bets.It’s a baiting of many hooks in the vain hope of landing at least one fish.My mate was embarrassed.He knows this himself.
Focus, especially in these tough times is an absolute necessity. If you can’t focus to the point of one or two key problems you solve, you can’t expect your prospects to work out what you do and what you could do for them, and don’t expect to be in business come the economic recovery.
And my mate’s company isn’t a small, inexperienced company lacking real marketing talent.On the contrary they have really good people.So how did they get themselves into this situation?The answer is that sales management, worried about the lack of leads and general interest in the product in the market had put pressure on the marketing organisation to “aim wider”, to target some of the areas the competition and other vendors in adjacent market segments were targeting.
The result? They were “targeting” everyone.
So it was the sales departments fault then? Well despite being a paid up member of the Marketing Protection League, I’m not going to endorse the marketing=good, sales=bad stereotype here. The marketing team was at fault. Sure the sales team were acting without a plan and not working from common sense, but that’s understandable. Just as we’re led to believe that waterboarding can make you say and do things that you don’t really mean, so come the end of the quarter when the members of the sales team has to put various bits of their collective anatomy on the line, they will happily advocate changing strategy 7 times a day, 5 days a week.
So it’s up to the marketing team to lead the company through these crazy times. Understand your ideal client and what their problem is, understand the value you can provide them that will make them want to buy from you and understand why you’re different from the alternatives. Perhaps most importantly make every effort to gather intelligence that will tell you where your prospects are still spending money.Focus is what you need in these tough times.
Of course that is only half the story.Marketing can hand a map with clear directions to the rest of the organisation but it won’t stop them all heading off in different directions and ignoring the map. So that’s where the close relationship between sales management and the marketing team comes into its own.One plan executed with focus and passion by two teams acting as one.
Simple. Well not really, but it’s not rocket science.