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This chapter is from the book

One Marketing Plan Isn’t Enough

Marketing is important, but not just in its traditional role of aiding in developing, producing, and selling products or services that customers want. We will demonstrate in the first chapter that positioning and segmentation are the real core of what makes ventures financially successful or not successful and provide the basis for sustainable competitive advantage.

Positioning is how the product or service is to be perceived by a target market compared to the competition. It answers the question: “Why will someone in the target market(s) buy my product or service instead of the competition?” An equivalent question is: “What should be the perceived value of my offering compared to the competition?” Positioning is intimately related to core distinctive competencies that the firm has or can develop.

Segmentation answers the question: “Which is (are) my target market(s)?”

The marketing plan, including appropriate pricing, distribution channels, public relations, advertising, promotion, and sales efforts, flows directly from the positioning and targeting decision.

This one marketing plan is not enough, however. Although the basic plan is focused on getting acceptance and purchase of the product or service by someone who is paying money to the company, other positioning and marketing challenges are just as important. These focus on other stakeholders who may be at least as important as the end customer:

  • Investors and potential investors in the venture
  • Market intermediaries between the company and the end customer
  • Employees and potential employees
  • Strategic partners
  • Users—Non-paying parties who may influence customers (e.g., viewers of advertising-supported programs

Each of these stakeholders is concerned about the end customer product positioning and segmentation, but they are also concerned about other issues that are at least as important to them—the equity and image of the venture. The successful cost-effective marketer has a big job. He or she needs to manage how his or her venture is perceived on all three issues—its product offering, corporate image, and equity—by all of the different constituencies. The positioning challenge is even more daunting because all the stakeholders have different values that they typically seek in the venture’s product offering, image, and equity. Table I-2 summarizes this multidimensional positioning and multiple plans. Each chapter of this book will shade the boxes at the intersection of the appropriate stakeholders and which of the plans for Products/Services, Equity, or Image will be covered.

Table I-2. Multiple marketing plans required

Products/Services

Equity/Shares

Image

Customers

Users

Investors

Supply Chain/Channel Partners

Employees

As Bo Peabody points out in his book Lucky or Smart, an entrepreneur is always selling his or her stock. In the early stages of almost every venture, there is no revenue coming in, and expenses are covered by loans or equity. Marketing to investors requires a different plan than marketing to customers, because to them, the product is those shares they’re buying. How will they become more valuable? And hiring needs a marketing plan since getting the best and brightest to work with your venture, a task on which companies such as Microsoft and Google have focused, requires them to believe in your mission, people, and image, as well as the value of stock options. Even in the product area, the customers (those who actually pay for the goods and services) are often not the same as the users (those who consume the goods or services). In most media companies—whether a new cable channel, an Internet site, or print publication—other businesses are the customers (advertisers), while these customers can only be drawn in by having lots of users. The plan for marketing to the customers needs to be quite distinct from the one designed to draw users.

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