Ask a marketing major studying for an undergraduate degree and the interpretation of marketing will be abundant statistical data and case history laden. Ask an MBA candidate with the same major and you will receive a much more sophisticated analysis. In each case, this is preparation for the daunting task of understanding the complexity of marketing, more so in a rapidly changing economy with many geo-political implications.
Now – – ask a grizzled veteran who has endured years of preparation, projections, analysis and evaluation to define marketing with one added caveat – keep it simple. Here is how that explanation might sound:
Marketing is defining how to sell the right product (service) – in the right markets – at the right time – in the right quantities – to the right customers – at the right price.
How’s that for simplicity? Now let’s muddy the waters. I’ll inject a little known phenomenon known as ‘make marketing vs. take marketing’. Moreover, this is a key if you are selling specialty products vs. commodities and particularly if you are selling directly to the user. To understand this phenomenon is to grasp the key issue for developing more leads – for more prospects – to whom to sell your products/services.
Simply stated ‘take marketing’ enables the seller of goods and services to analyze the market, then design a program which will enable the marketer to sell a satisfactory percentage of that market. Once accomplished, this is called market share. There is in the case of most manufactured goods rather accurate statistical analysis which defines how many automobiles (even by make, model, size and color) will be sold in the US. This is equally true of beer, clothing, carpeting — in fact, most of the manufactured goods offered for sale.
The previous example is especially true regarding building materials. There is a rather accurate projection as to how many houses will be built, torn down or remodeled over the course of a year. An accurate projection can also be made as to how many square feet of piping, flooring, roofing and insulation, windows, etc. will be used. Those who offer goods in those markets will decide how to “take” the piece of that market which their product can accommodate by price, quality, and similar factors.
Next, compute what happens when there is a decline in new construction, and fewer people undertake remodeling. The marketer, unable to maintain their market position, downsizes, adjusts prices or undergoes similar machinations to try and maintain market size.
Now, let’s examine make marketing, particularly in how it relates to building products, and more specifically, home improvement sales. The make marketer finds ways to stimulate prospects by offering them an opportunity to look, preview, see a demonstration, get free estimates and other similar tactics. The exhortation to participate in any of the latter utilizes almost every conceivable manner of communication, some a lot more effective than others – while some are complicated to understand.
Here are some examples (this is just a sampling and each method has numerous variations):
- Print media (newspaper and magazine)
- Direct mail and marriage mailings
- Shows and events
- Kiosks in malls
- Radio and television
- Direct and telephone marketing
- Internet marketing including social networking
Each of these methods requires an in-depth understanding of buyers’ habits, attitudes and a probe of value systems. Each also involves a special level of marketing know-how, together with tenacity and a budget which is accommodating. These are nonetheless, the means by which a marketer develops business – by interacting with prospects who are not yet committed. The technique works hand-in-hand with training salespeople how to present (demonstrate) a product or service that meets the specific needs of individual prospects and moreover, how to convince them that now may be the best time to buy. Above all it requires a make marketing attitude.
Incidentally, here is but one example of why and how this works. In early ’08, the statistics were released on the number of windows manufactured for residential housing in the US over the prior 12 months. Those statistics are revealing. Approximately 22 million windows for new construction and 33 million were used in replacement. I estimate that approximately 60% of the latter came because of make marketing which also drives and stimulates the market for others.
There are many other examples of make marketing:
- Canvassing, when done properly (most canvassing isn’t)
- Soliciting around installed jobs
- S.F.I. (sell, furnish, install) programs utilized by wise marketers such as Home Depot, Sears, Sam’s Club, etc.
All of these techniques require thoughtful preparation, supervised execution and budgetary controls.
To summarize, in most instances, it is the make marketer who thrives in a changing economy.