Simple Marketing Part 4: Know Your Environment

28 04 2008

Many external factors will have an effect on your business. Identifying and monitoring them will help you to proactively market your business, and when external forces result in changing circumstance in many cases you will have already anticipated how they would impact on your enterprise, and then have in place plans to capitalise on or minimise the impact of them. 

To gain a full understanding of your business environment, start by identifying all the things that could have a positive or negative impact on it. These can vary depending on the size and sector of your business and the nature of your customers.

Some examples include:

  • Changes in the national economy
  • New legislation
  • Changes in consumer tastes, aspirations, confidence
  • The economic and political stability of the countries your suppiers are based in
  • Sector performance
  • Transport costs

When you have your list of the things that could impact your business, the next step is to work out where you will find sources of information to help you keep up-to-date with them.

Some examples of include:

  • The Internet, take care to ensure the information you find is from appropriate and trusted sources
  • National and local media
  • Trade associations for your sector
  • Trade publications for your sector
  • Local business clubs
  • Government Web sites
  • Research findings, many can be found on the Internet, but do check credentials carefully

Whilst this may seem like commonsense, by ensuring you have a full understanding of the outside influences that can impact your business you can tailor your marketing activity to counter or benefit from them. This approach is enhanced if you build-in flexibility to your Marketing Plan (this will be covered in a future part of the Simple Marketing series.)

As information gathering is an ongoing process, it will inevitably raise questions for you to probe. For example, the much reported Credit Crunch has been in the offing for at least the last 6 months. In this instance as soon as it was being reported, as a business you can start to consider how a downturn in consumer spending could impact your enterprise, and more importantly what marketing measures you can deploy to minimise the impact.

The types of actions you could take will very depending on your specific business, but in very general terms if you felt your customers would be hit but the Credit Crunch you could for example:

  • Find new ways to find new customers – for example making use of cost effective eMail marketing
  • Ask existing customers how they are feeling – you may find they are not being affected
  • Offer incentives to keep regular customers loyal
  • Ask existing suppliers for better terms – any discount the can offer will help you
  • Review current marketing activity – a value for money message may be more appropriate in the current climate

Wherever possible try to apply this thinking to all of the external impacts you have identified, and keep doing this on an ongoing business. It will help to define the marketing for your business and will also help to ensure that the marketing activity you undertake is timely, current and appropriate. All of which will help your business to adapt to the constantly changing business environment. 

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