This is the last of a three-part series in Marketing from the Inside Out. In the first article, I offered four guidelines for marketing: express your passion, honor your values, use common sense, and find a need and fill it. In the second article, I laid out a fundamental marketing analysis, which included the importance of examining core values at a corporate and personal level. Now we will explore how to create a values-based marketing plan.
The biggest obstacles in my life were usually put there by me. To quote the cartoon character Pogo, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." As a life coach, one of my jobs is to help people get out of their own way. In their hearts, they know what they want to do. They know right from wrong. They know when they are lying to themselves. They know they have choices. But sometimes they forget. Instead, they get in the habit of reacting to external demands, or following the herd, instead of listening to their own inner wisdom.
Hopefully the earlier articles in this series helped you gain some clarity about your product, your marketplace and your most authentic style of communicating your message. You also had an opportunity to explore your core values and to see where they were aligned with how you do business. Now it is time to put it together in order to gain some traction in today's mercurial marketplace. Begin with a situational analysis. This includes an external analysis as well as a self-analysis.
The external analysis includes:
- Customer analysis: What are the market segments, motivations and unmet needs?
- Competitive analysis: Identify who your competitors are and their relative strengths and weaknesses.
- Market landscape: This includes an industry analysis, the regulatory climate, etc.
The self-analysis includes:
- Performance analysis: What is your ROI, expected growth, etc.?
- Cost analysis: Define your sustainable advantage, experience curve, etc.
- Financial resources and constraints
- Strengths and weaknesses: Include distinctive competencies, assets and liabilities
- Strategic questions
- Identify your core values and where in your business you best honor them as well as where you would like to more fully honor them.
You are now ready to identify strategic alternatives based on your company strengths and core values. The goal is to develop a sustainable competitive advantage (SCA), which has three components:
2. The advantage needs to be substantial enough to really make a difference. This can be challenging in a saturated market, but becomes easier when one focuses on a specific niche.
3. It needs to be sustainable in the face of environmental changes and competition. This also speaks to how the company defines itself. The classic example is the railroad industry. Were they in the business of running trains or in the business of moving people and goods? How you define your business will have an impact on your ability to adjust to external factors.