Marketing for MSMEs

Marketing pix

Marketing provides a platform to showcase business products to customers with the aim of increasing awareness

Market is explained as a place where buyers and sellers meet to exchange commodities. In business development terms, a market is explained as those people or customers where sellers and entrepreneurs expect to sell their goods or services. Marketing on the other side is that process of searching and creating a market for the commodity either goods or services that an entrepreneur expect to sell.

To  succeed in  any  business, entrepreneurs must  attract  and  retain  a  growing  base  of  satisfied customers. Marketing programs, though widely varied, are all aimed at convincing people to try out or keep using particular products or services. Business owners should carefully plan their marketing strategies and performance to keep their market presence strong.

Hence as an entrepreneur, you need to keep in mind that success of your business lies in its marketing. For people to come to your business they must first be told about what you are offering and be convinced to come.

 

Why should you market your business?

Provide a better way to retain and attract new customers.

Regular marketing of products and services is very essential as it has an impact on either retaining the existing or attracting new customers. Use of different marketing strategies helps to make your products known to the daily targeted costumers and also attracts new ones to start using products/services provided by your business.

Provides a means to showcase products and services available/offered by your business.

Marketing provides a platform to showcase business products to customers with the aim of increasing awareness. This is very important because before people start to buy your products they need to be aware of its existence.

Promotes growth of business income

The goal of marketing a product or service is usually to increase the overall number of people consuming or utilizing  services or product offered. If the number of product or services users increases, your sales will increases resulting in the improvement of business income.  Proper marketing usually brings benefits to the company including an increase of income.

Better ways to market your products

Different companies use different ways to market their products. The following are some of the most commonly used ways by many businesses.

Quality of the product and services

Without doubt one of the best marketing strategy for either commodity or service is usually the quality of the supplied product. In this, before thinking of any other expensive way to attract customer to consume either product or services provided, an entrepreneur must make sure the quality of the supplied items is of reasonable standards.

This must be done by making sure that produced products are of better quality than those of competitors hence giving the business an edging point over other business supplying similar goods or services.

i) Know your customers and their needs: Pay attention to your customers and learn as much about them as you can – where did they come from, who are they, and what do they expect from you?;

ii) Deliver quality products and services, Do you know what your customer expects from you or your business? Do you know how they define desired or delighted product/service? If you don’t know, it’s hit or miss as to whether you’ll deliver it or not. What you may think is quality, may not be “quality” to someone else. Again, give your customers a way to express their voice and be aggressive in your desire to listen to them.

iii) Correct deviations from customer expectations, your employees have to become responsible for knowing the expectations for service delivery and getting the training and decision making to meet the performance expectations. Giving customers as many avenues as possible to talk to you will help you to gain the information you need before their disappointment gets posted on Facebook, YouTube or another social media forum.

iv) Strengthen customer loyalty and service, here you must respond quickly to resolve customer complaints, successfully resolving a customer issue is the fastest way to build customer loyalty.

v) Maximize satisfaction and retention. Gaining feedback at various moments of the customer experience will tell you where you stand. Use dashboards or scoreboards to let your workers know what the customer has to say about your work area or product and services.

Advertisement

This is usually a created means of letting the customers see your product in terms of appearance, use and the benefits. In marketing your product you need advertisement strategy that will focus on changing people’s attitude concerning their everyday products so as to start utilizing the products your providing. A good advertisement strategy should be

Sensitive: Not offensive or attacking a particular group e.g. it should not involve sexual or political oriented

Appealing: it should easily capture people attention or interests

Reaching large masses at short period of time: it should be effective in reaching large number of people over a short period of time, hence little resources will be employed for large population.

Packaging

It should be known that not all products are supposed to be in package. But for those products that are in a package, packaging can be applied as another basic way of marketing your products. Human consumptions pattern tend to divide people into certain preference in terms of the overall outlook, colors and the design of the product. Due to this an entrepreneur can use to market the product through the use of a best package that will serve as an attraction to customers.

Attached are companies that offer packaging services

Promotions

One can use regular promotions as means to boost demand for the provided good or service. With an assured quality of the products, an entrepreneur can use promotions as a means to let customers test the products at affordable prices so that they can start consuming it. Promotions can include pitches  like “buy 5 get one for free” or “Get two for the price of one” stimulate trial among your targeted customers for  your product. The aforementioned pitches and many others are amongst the best product promotion strategies.

 

Price

The right price is very important for getting the most total revenue. When setting a price for your product or service one needs to consider the following factors ;Total production cost (direct and indirect),How much customers are willing to pay, Competitors price,

Short supply of product /service “Scarcity”,

Product/ service demand, and Government policies.

It is therefore important to accurately calculate each of these, so that the final selling price is realistic.

The entrepreneur should be careful in setting the level of profit intended to be made on the sale of a product or service, by also taking into account the relationship between demand of the product and the available supply. If demand is higher than the available supply, the price (and thus the profit) may be increased. Likewise, if there is a large supply, but few people want to buy, then prices may drop. An excessively high price due to the need of a big profit margin will dissuade customers. When sales increase, profit margins may be reduced., This enables the entrepreneur to lower the selling price, and allow the business to ‘capture’ the market and even expand it.

 

Distribution

The manufacturer and wholesaler must decide how to distribute their products. Working through established sellers is generally the easiest distribution channel for small businesses. Small retailers should consider cost and traffic flow during site selection, especially since advertising and rent can be reciprocal: A low-cost, low-traffic location means spending more on advertising to build traffic.

All in all the named above are the fundamentals of a true marketing mindset. Entrepreneurs needs to understand that, customer wants should be the focus of their business operations and planning.

 

 

 

Product Positioning

Product Positioning & Supervisor roles

Last week we discussed about Market targeting. We saw that mass marketing is no longer considered effective for most businesses in today’s world of differentiated consumer marketplace. Therefore, most companies no longer tend to generalize the market, but instead they slice it into a number of different, narrowly-defined groups, and then choose the groups to which they aim to sell their products or services.

In today’s topic we are going to discuss about Product positioning. In general, product positioning is defined as the process marketers use to determine how to best communicate their products’ attributes to their target customers based on customer needs, competitive pressures, available communication channels and carefully crafted key messages. Effective product positioning ensures that marketing messages resonate with target consumers and compel them to take action.

Product positioning therefore, involves efforts to influence consumer perception of a brand or product relative to the perception of competing brands or products, it helps to  create a positive perception and preferred position in the eyes of the public towards that product.

If a product is well positioned, it will have strong sales, and may become the go-to brand for people who need that particular product. Poor positioning, on the other hand, can lead to bad sales and a dubious reputation.

Product positioning process

Product positioning is a tricky process. It is a continuous process requiring constant observation. MSMEs adopting product positioning strategies need to see how consumers perceive their product, and how differences in presentation can impact perception.

As defined above, positioning is the process by which marketers try to create an image or identity in the minds of their target market for its product, brand, or organization. Then re-positioning involves changing that identity of a product, relative to the identity of competing products, in the collective minds of the target market.

Effective product positioning requires a clear understanding of customer needs so that the right communication channels are selected and key messages will resonate with customers. Product positioning starts with identifying specific, niche market segments to target — not just women over 25 but women from 25 to 30 who work in senior-level management positions, who make X Shs per year, who are single and enjoy sporting activities. The more specific, the better.

In addition to identifying the customer based on demographic and psychographic (personality/lifestyle) attributes, marketers need to understand customer needs, especially relative to the products and services they have to offer, to clearly convey value as part of their marketing plan.

Generally, the product positioning process involves:

  1. Defining the market in which the product or brand will compete (who the relevant buyers are)
  2. Identifying the attributes (also called dimensions) that define the business product ‘space’.
  3. Collecting information from a sample of customers about their perceptions of each business product on the relevant attributes
  4. Determine each business product’s share of mind
  5. Determine each product’s current location in the business product space
  6. Determine the target market’s preferred combination of attributes
  7. Examine the fit between:
  • The position of your product
  • The position of the target market’s preferred combination of attributes

It is important to note that for the MSME to achieve sustained growth there is need to create an impact in the target market. Creating an image in the minds of customers helps in creating loyalty to products or services being offered.

Product positioning helps marketers consider how their offerings are different from others that consumers have to choose from. But it is not enough to know this from an internal perspective — marketers must communicate this to the target audiences. To do this effectively, they must choose communication channels that are designed to connect with their identified target audiences at times when they will be most receptive to these messages.

Conveying the differentiating, value-added aspects of your product or service to your target audience through the communication channels you have selected is also another key element to consider. These messages are designed to convey how your product is different (and better) than competitive offerings, as well as to address the value-added attributes that are important to your audience. Product positioning is at the foundation of any effective marketing plan because it impacts the ultimate purchase decision.

Who is a supervisor?

Supervisor is a manager at the first level of management, which means the employees reporting to the supervisors are not managers. Operational Supervisor is tasked to ensure that the business is meeting its’ goals. He/she also ensures that employees are performing their jobs so they will contribute a share of the accomplishment of goals. Operational Supervisor oversees daily business problems and goals.

Supervisor should possess the following skills:

  • Management Skills
  • Technical Skills
  • Human Relation Skills
  • Idea developing Skills
  • Decision Making Skills

General Function of a supervisor includes the following

Planning – this involves drawing up plans of actions that combine unity, continuity, flexibility and accuracy given the organization’s resources.

Staffing – it is performed by all managers depending upon the nature of business, size of the company, qualifications and skills of managers. In small companies, the top management generally performs this function. In medium and small scale enterprise, it is performed especially by the personnel department of that concern. Staffing helps in recruitment, selection, placement, training and development, providing remuneration.

Leading – this involves the social and informal sources of influence that you use to inspire action taken by others. It helps supervisors understand their subordinates’ personalities, values, attitudes, and emotions.

Controlling – this involves identifying performance weaknesses and errors by controlling feedback, and conforming activities to plans and instructions.

Responsibilities of a supervisor

Supervisor must be prepared for change as fast as their employees do. Supervisor must be accountable to business practice by imposing penalties for employees who fail to adequately carry out responsibilities and provide rewards for meeting expectations.

Tips for supervisors

Supervisor must be prepared for change as fast as their employees do.

Supervisor must be accountable to business practice by imposing penalties for employees who fail to adequately carry out responsibilities and provide rewards for meeting expectations.

Set limits on your behavior! No gossip participation.

Do not be a “rescuer”. Train employees to improve performance, do not do it for them.

Figure out how to measure success. Know when people are not on track to meet goals.

Communicate with everyone. Talk with each subordinate regularly.

Be firm. You will be tested on rules and standards.

Learn from others. Find other bosses who will share their wisdom. Seek people inside and outside the organization. Create a business network.

Prepared by Veneranda Sumila

Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF)