Putting It All Together
Sounds easy enough. You have your company's business goals for the planning period. You've outlined your challenges: competitive bidding, retail competition, a new DME chain down the street, decreased financing, the need to diversify revenue sources and fewer employees. Then you start tripping over marketing, what you want to achieve, who is doing what and whose budget it comes out of.
Typically in HME businesses, everyone does a bit of marketing. Maybe the owner or president has defined business goals and an employee has stepped up with specific skills in advertising or public relations. But as companies mature, they recognize the competitive landscape and see the need to professionalize their marketing expertise. They realize the necessity of integrating a variety of marketing activities to attract and retain customers is now critical to build business.
Let's dispel some misunderstandings right off. Marketing is not just advertising. Marketing is not just a meaningful logo and Web site. Nor high tech in-services with organic lunches. Marketing is the systematic plan and implementation of a mix of business activities that build relationships of mutual value between buyers/referral entities and sellers.
Advertising is one of the marketing tools to get the word out about your firm. A great radio campaign can draw attention to your grand opening or special event. Well-placed billboards might create brand awareness if you are being locked out of a market. Or customer service training and product guarantees can keep customers returning for more cash sale items.
A special sale builds pricing awareness. An online store extends your distribution capability. A phone call campaign can introduce customers to a special event. All are independent tactics unless tied into a marketing plan with specific objectives, and driven and controlled by your business goals.
Marketing is not just sales. According to an explanation from About.com, “Marketing is everything that you do to reach and persuade prospects. The sales process is everything that you do to close the sale and get a signed agreement or contract. Both are necessities to the success of a business.”
When you are thinking about your company's marketing program, take a step back. Be pragmatic.
List your business goals and critical challenges.
List your top marketing objectives for each goal and share them with your employees.
Request suggestions from staff at least once every quarter.