Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1: The Business ReviewThe business review provides an information decision-making base for the subsequent marketing plan and the rationale for all strategic marketing decisions within the plan. Most importantly, it provides for a consumer and customer orientation to your marketing communications.
Suggestions for preparing a business review.
How to develop an outline to use as a road map for completing your business review.
The steps necessary to complete a business review.
How to utilize primary data (developed through your own company's research) and secondary data (existing in trade journals, government publications, etc.) in the development of your business review.
Where to find the information necessary to complete the charts and answer the questions in each step of the business review in Chapter 2.
This summary is intended to help organize work on the business review you develop in Chapter 2. Following these suggestions will save time and help create a more effective database from which to make decisions.
It is very important to look not only inward at your company, but outside to the industry in which you are competing for insights into marketing planning direction. A business review will help you compare trends within your company to those of your industry category and key competitors. The industry category is the overall business in which you compete. For example, Sub Zero Freezers is in the kitchen appliance industry.
Throughout the business review chapters we use the terms "consumers" and "customers." In order to analyze company trends, we need to investigate the behavior of company customers, those people whohave purchased a company's product. If we are to compare company trends to industry category and key competitor trends, we also need to look at the purchase behavior of consumers, people who have purchased the industry category product, a subset of which is company customers. For business to business companies, think of customers as business customers and consumers as business consumers.
Why Market Information is Important
Today, consumers have more product choices than ever before. They also have more information about the choices. The combination of more competition (from small niche marketers to large dominant category killers such as Toys `R Us) and a bombardment of communication from the many competitive alternatives means marketers have to work much harder to affect target market behavior in today's environment. Thus it is more important now than at any time in the history of marketing to really understand your target market and to let this understanding drive not only your marketing decisions, but the entire decision-making framework of the company.
It is our opinion that many of the business successes of the past ten years have come about not because of great business management, but because of individuals with tremendous consumer insight-insight developed through a deep understanding of the target market, the business environment, and the competition. It was the genius of people like Steve jobs, who understood the impact of the personal computer first on businesspeople and then on home consumers. Jobs started Apple Computer from his garage, igniting the computer revolution. It was Sam Walton's insight that determined that the rural consumer was underserved from a retail standpoint. Mr. Walton built his business on the concept that the rural consumer would travel much farther than the normal retail trading area distance to shop at a store which offered a one-stop shop with good value on its products. While the standard doctrine of the day said that there had to be 100,000 people within a 10-mile trading area to support large general merchandise stores such as Wal-Mart, Mr. Walton put his stores in small towns such a Viroqua, Wisconsin. He succeeded because consumers in rural areas were willing to drive much greater distances to avail themselves of the deep selection of merchandise and reasonable prices that in the past could only be found in the larger cities. One final example would be Famous Footwear. In an era of flat retail footwear sales, the fast-growing footwear retailer realized that Nike, Reebok, Keds, Rockport, Naturalizer, etc., were building the demand for brand-name shoes. What a retailer could do best was to provide the brands for less. Famous Footwear targeted the heavy female purchaser with children and provided that consumer value-not the best prices, not the best quality, not the biggest selection, but value. The best price on popular brand-name shoes for the entire family. In all of these examples, companies used their insight into their target markets to provide products, communication programs, and sales programs that made individuals in the target markets think they were talking directly to them.
Much of the target market innovation in today's marketing environment is coming from retailers, service firms, package goods companies, and business-to-business firms who are interacting with their target markets with a new level of urgency. Technological innovations in the retail industry, such as "smart cash registers," increased use of research, and marketing databases have provided marketers a wealth of customer information. The more successful business-to-business firms are spending less time selling what they have and more time defining their customers' needs. And package goods companies faced with parity of product and a sales promotion environment are exploring new ways to build brand equity and value-added with their products. Marketers who are on the front lines, engaging in dialog with the consumer on a daily basis, are the ones who are often closest to the consumer and target market demands. This "closeness" is bringing about a change in the way many marketing-oriented companies are doing business.
These marketing-oriented companies are now in a position to define specific segments based upon unique needs or consumption behavior and then realistically set marketing objectives to affect the segment's behavior. For example, companies now have the ability to know whether product repurchase rates are different for new versus old customers or by demographic age segment. They have the ability to determine exactly how many customers there are for each unique purchasing segment, and they know what the average expenditure per purchase and the average number of purchases is for the segments. With this type of target market information, the marketing-oriented company is able to set objectives to affect consumer behavior. As a result, the marketers writing the plan know they have a good chance of achieving the goals, because these objectives have been set with the consumer's needs in mind. For example, setting an objective which increases the repeat purchase rate might be developed due to a knowledge that the consumer has the desire and the ability to purchase more if the company made some basic changes in the way it does business. This might require changing the product to satisfy shortcomings in important attributes in order to stimulate increased repurchase. It might mean changing the packaging to allow for easier storage, or it might mean adjusting price to encourage multiple purchases. And, it might mean improving customer service to increase after-sale purchases and repurchases. While all these involve strategic decisions, it is consumer insights which provide the marketer the confidence to set obtainable marketing objectives and to determine the appropriate strategy for achieving them.
The premise of disciplined marketing planning as outlined in this text is that marketing plans focus on the needs of the target market. The business review is the place where the marketer develops a broad understanding of target market insights. Schultz, Tannenbaum, and Lauterborn argue in their text Integrated Marketing Communications that Kotler's "Four P's"-product, price, place, and promotion (the foundations of most business reviews)-are a thing of the past. Instead, Lauterborn's "Four C's" rule the day. We've used this thinking as the framework for demonstrating below how the Four P's were manufacturer- or company-oriented, while the Four C's are target market-oriented. The change from the inner (company) focus of the Four P's to the outer (target market) focus of the Four C's is a critical concept in identifying target markets. The Four P's were driven by the product. A company developed a product and then sold it. The Four C's, as described below, are driven by the consumer-they are target market driven, not product and sales driven. The end result is a marketing orientation and business review format which revolves around the consumer's needs. (The consumer in this context may be the end consumer, an intermediary, or a business-to-business consumer...