How To Grow A Business If A Key Product Or Service Is Difficult To Promote
A business operating in a market with at least minimal competition always needs to promote products and services to increase sales and profits.
These are marketing tasks that managers and owners solve through the creation of a marketing department or the involvement of a marketing company in cooperation.
The latter option is rapidly gaining popularity, because the contractor, as a rule, has a wide range of marketing tools (he works in different markets), and his income directly depends on the result.
True, it happens that even outsourced marketing cannot increase sales with all its professionalism. What should a marketer do in such a situation and what decisions should business management make – we tell using our own case as an example.
Which business is difficult to promote
Let’s omit the obvious situations when a product or service is created without an eye on the target audience (that is, simply not needed by anyone), not in demand due to low quality, poor service, etc. Marketing just easily reveals such moments , draws the attention of the manager to them, and offers response measures. The problem arises when the target audience cannot be defined.
For 9 years of work, our company has built an industrial marketing system for more than 50 federal and regional enterprises. Three years ago, having entered into an agreement with a large contract manufacturing company, we, without foreseeing any difficulties, began to study this market in order to identify its features and draw up a portrait of the target audience (this is important for understanding who exactly and why contract manufacturing services are most often required ).
At the time of our arrival, the company had a fairly wide client base, which, as it turned out, included completely different companies.
We could not break this database into segments, display trends and get an accurate description of the target audience.
It was also not possible to collect sufficient information about competitors, because most of the contract manufacturers of electronics in Russia belong to the defense industry and are not distinguished by publicity. And how to develop sales if you don’t understand who exactly to sell to and what kind of competitive strategy to choose?
Tip: in itself, such a situation is not yet a reason to refuse promotion . A portrait of the target audience is drawn up in any case, it will just turn out to be approximate. But even this allows marketing to work further: look for points of contact and build sales funnels.
Often this succeeds and the funnel is quite effective. But we have an even more difficult case.
Where is the client hiding?
The signs of the most interesting potential client for the contract manufacturing of electronics were still identified. This is a device developer, for example, a design bureau, which has a growing number of orders, but does not have enough of its own production capacity to fulfill them (or they do not exist at all).
However, the portrait turned out to be too general, which caused difficulties in finding points of contact. Try to find a specific one in a huge pile of completely different objects, having only a very approximate, fuzzy description of it. What are the chances of success? How much time and effort will it take?
Nevertheless, it was necessary to solve the problem – we do not abandon complex projects. We started testing various marketing tools, but none of them brought a tangible result in the form of creating a stable flow of new applications.
Some did not give access to representatives of the target audience (PR campaign in the press, online advertising); with the help of others it was not possible to fall into need. So, in 2019, we organized a big event – a presentation of the capabilities of a contract manufacturer with a tour of its production.
We managed to attract quite a lot of participants, including potential customers and even some competitors. But, analyzing the result, we saw that orders from new companies did not increase.
They were made only by those who have already collaborated with our client. It became obvious: electronics contract manufacturing services are in demand,
Tip: a negative result is also a result. If a particular product or service is, in principle, sold and gives the business stability, but their sales cannot be seriously increased, it is better to leave this direction as it is and look for new growth points. Marketing also helps with this.
Where to develop?
Options may be different, depending on the specifics of the company and the market. In the case of our client, we discussed the results of previous work and began to develop a new line of business for him – the production of finished electrical products.
This project was launched in mid-2020, at the height of the pandemic. Then there was a serious shortage of bactericidal air recirculators, and our contract manufacturer hastened to occupy a free niche, since the production capacities allowed him to quickly launch the production of any device.
Then, already this year, this experience was repeated with the production of electronic ballasts, which are used in various types of gas-discharge lighting lamps. Our task as a marketing department now comes down to packaging and promoting each specific product:
we study the market (we do price monitoring, analyze competitors and target audience), develop a brand name and logo, create a landing page, launch contextual advertising, and so on. Here, none of the difficulties described above arise any more, and high sales of finished products provide the company with a constant increase in profits.
Tip: if a business outsources such tasks to a marketing company, constant communication with the contractor will be required.
To promote even one product, marketers need to obtain technical / consumer characteristics and other information, coordinate advertising materials, etc. If management doesn’t have time, the process can stall. In our case, this was avoided. We tried different options, and, following our principle of not abandoning a complex project, we did not object when the client decided to hire an in-house marketing director.
A person who is immersed in the business and has constant direct access to the director and key production specialists. Such a mixed option is possible when the company is interested in cooperation with the contractor, but the management, due to high employment, cannot constantly interact with him.