By Robert Craven, Managing Director of The Directors Centre

‘Marketers’ and ‘Business Development Managers’ have got away with hiding behind their trendy suits and budgets for much too long. Sort them out. (Sort yourself out?!)

Drag them into your office. Get them to answer the questions below. Failure to come up with succinct answers for any of the following tells you they are not really doing their job.

Reduce their salary by 10% for each question poorly answered – a total of 15 questions means that some marketers will end up paying you to work for you. So, here goes, fifteen questions every marketer should be able to answer for the business that they work in.

1. What Drives our INDUSTRY?

2. What drives our MARKET?
Who are the key players in the market (today/tomorrow)?
What determines the nature of the market?
What are the trends/benchmarks of performance within the market?
What are the key influences on the market?

3. Who are our COMPETITORS?
Who are our competitors today/tomorrow?
What are their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
What are they trying to achieve in the short run? In the long run?
What will their next move be? When?
What is their Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
How are they perceived by other competitors?
How do the customers perceive them?

4. Who are our CUSTOMERS?
Who are our customers?
Why do they buy the product/service?
Why do they buy from us? When?
Why do they leave us?
How do they use the product and/or service?
How do they buy? How often? Where? Who?
Who uses the product and/or service?

5. How do our TARGET CUSTOMERS behave?

6. How good are we, OURSELVES?
• How good is our performance to date (Finance, Marketing and Operations)?
• What is our potential (resources, experience, controls, ideas and innovation and leadership)?
• What are our weaknesses? Our Opportunities? What are our threats? Our strengths?
• How good are we, really?

If you put together these six stages of the Marketing Audit, you should have a pretty clear idea of what your capabilities are and also what your opportunities are.

Marketing is the process of targeting your product or service to satisfy customer needs in the most cost-effective (and profitable) way. Some fundamental questions about our products and services….

7. What is the need that must be satisfied?

Who has the need?
What do they need it for?
Who does the buying? When do they buy? Why?
What will influence the need?
How will it change?

8. What are the products or services that will satisfy it?

What particular aspects of the product/service are important?

What is it that customers are buying?
What are the product features?
What are the product benefits?
At what price?

9. How are the need and the product best connected?

How is our identity branded/perceived?
How are the product/services branded?
How is it packaged/promoted/sold?
How is it available?

Like any other strategy, your strategy for marketing is your route map for getting there. So, the fundamental question you need to address is, what is there? In other words:

Why… will which customers… choose us?

Quite simply, you need to be able to write down:

10. What is your market position now, and in the future?

11. What is your customer position now and in the future?

12. How will you achieve and sustain this new position?

You are trying to create a product offering, or a brand. So, what is the positioning in the customer’s minds that you have or, rather, would like to have? A good starting point is to define:

13. To whom does the brand appeal?

14. What does the brand offer?

15. Why is it better than other offerings?

If you can answer these questions, and it is no mean task to address these questions, then you are a long way towards being able to define your marketing vision and hence your strategy to achieve it.

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