“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” – Psalm 23: 3
In the last two columns we shared some experiences on the effectiveness of a shepherding squad in addressing challenges in the governance and investment finance systems of a business.
The aim of the marketing business system is to comprehensively, aggressively and fearlessly explore the massive space of customer needs and to refine the company’s products and services to cost-effectively increase sales, satisfy customers and grow the company.
In this column, we shall share three occurrences where experienced shepherding squads have expertly guided entrepreneurs to combat marketing challenges.
Example 1: A fledgling graphic designer was desirous of launching a new business under her own brand but was not sure how to penetrate the already saturated design market. She sought shepherding advice and benefited by expanding her skills from design-only to card-cutting, printing and creative handwork on the cards. She adopted the use of the latest technology and embraced time management techniques to improve process flow. Her client-based applications were now broadened to include advertising materials, wedding and business stationery, promotional pieces and specialty items.
Her target markets were expanded to comprise retail clothing stores, educational institutes, specialty food shops, flower and gift shops, event management companies, print brokers and print companies. The result – steady sales growth.
The Shepherding squad introduced her to a visionary process centered around “The Marketing Matrix” which systematically mines combinations of products and target markets to unearth new business opportunities.
Example 2: An entrepreneur, with a suite of condiments under the same brand, was desirous of growing the business. He had only secured five retail outlets for purchase of the products by local consumers. He sought shepherding advice on how to increase sales. The Shepherding process, because of the marketplace knowledge, contacts and experience of the squad, was able in one year to systematically increase the number of outlets for the existing suite of products, from five to 90.
In addition, the suite of products was creatively expanded under the same brand to take advantage of opportunities in the tourism and export markets and the sales began to grow exponentially. Again, “The Marketing Matrix” was the template which was at the heart of this metamorphosis, coupled with an introduction to the government’s entrepreneurial enabling environment services of which he was not aware.
In both examples, Shepherding advice in the use of modern marketing tools e.g. public relations, media relations, social media, audiovisual and advertising, would significantly enhance the rate of growth of sales.
Example 3: A manager of a monopoly company in Trinidad was brave enough to resign his job and form a new company to compete with the established company in its main product line. The splinter group was able to compete on quality but because of its relatively small size and asset base had a very hard time establishing its fair share of the market.
The new company then introduced a policy where it incentivized all its production staff and turned them all into sales persons on weekends. The result – the company survived.
This concept can be immediately introduced in any company by incentivizing the production staff to be knowledgeable part-time marketers thus significantly enhancing the impact of marketing without having to employ new specialist marketing staff. In such a case, it is wise to expose these part-time marketing team members to a shepherding process to set then on the right path. The shepherding advice will include the gradual conversion of customers from merely a name on a business card through a proposal process to a signed contract and committed client. Regular performance monitoring will enhance customer retention.
The marketing business system is the life of a company. It controls the rate at which sales are generated. Let us develop an organizational culture in which incentivized team members are energized with a shepherding light. This light guides them through “the valley of the shadow of death”. The combined impact of this shepherding light, when focused on the company’s brand, constitutes a marketing force that differentiates the brand from that of the competition, increases sales, grows profitability, inspires company sustainability hence securing the team members’ future.