Promotions win Quarters

August 28, 2011 by

When I’ve spoken with organizations about their marketing efforts, more often than not they start the discussion wanting to know how I can support them in getting their name out in to the marketplace. Companies may not be certain of the appropriate target market for the product. As long as there is some buzz happening, that’s what matters. I always find this interesting.

Even in the most mundane industries, the companies who really stand above their competitors are those who offer innovative or disruptive functionality. A company doesn’t have to necessarily be first to market. Typically a company will take existing features, refine them to offer increased or customer driven functionality and then get the product in front of customers. Sometimes, getting the product in front of customers requires a huge promotional push. Other times, the growth is organic.

I mentioned Apple’s iPad in a previous blog entry. Apple usually creates a promotional splash around product launches. Recall that Apple entered the market after’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook were launched.

Google is an example of the latter. Google formally incorporated in 1998. At that time, Netscape, Hot Bot, Ask Jeeves (now, Altavista, Lycos, Excite, Magellan were among the list of search engines. The guys at Google looked at existing features and created elegant but simple functionality with complex underlying algorithms designed to search the internet faster and easier.

Midsized companies can learn from this.

Determine the features and functionality that drive customers to want your offering. What’s the best way to understand the current and latent needs of customers? How about asking them? Or, observe their habits. Study consumer behavior. Look at similarities in other industries. Consider how your product or service addresses a need that consumers couldn’t satisfy on their own. Then, improve upon the way the need is delivered to the customer.

Proctor and Gamble is currently addressing this with what they refer to as their
“$2 a day consumers”.

Maybe within your organization, this type of activity falls within the Strategy team. The focus, however, is ultimately on creating value among current or potential customers. If you’re asking me, I will tell you there’s a Marketing component involved especially when companies are seeking ways for customers to buy more product.

The promotional component of marketing generates awareness and usage in the short term to medium term. Creating great products or enhancements to existing products can open up completely new markets for opportunity. Ask Google….or, Apple. As Robert McDonald, P&G's CEO and chairman told analysts, “promotions win quarters; innovation takes decades”.