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Be market savvy

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One of the most fascinating and successful businesses in Australia is Working Dog, the company that has produced such great movies as The Castle and The Dish. The team behind it became famous during the ‘90s as ‘The D-Generation’. They appeared in another of their products, The Panel, and have brought a more recent offering to enthusiastic audiences, Thank God You’re Here on Network Ten.

Although creative people behind these shows often do not regard themselves as businessmen and women, they still possess some of the key fundamentals of growing a successful business. Firstly, they produce a quality product and secondly, they understand their market.

Of course, their longevity – they've been going at it for over 20 years – has a lot to do with their good sense in budgeting for their projects. But their greatest talent is how focused they are on their market and, of course, their customers. Though they would never allow their audience to ever be seen as mere customers.

Walter Dinale, a business growth expert from accounting firm Deloitte, believes business-owners need to become more market savvy if they want to grow a great business – and it may mean having to concentrate less on sales.

Letting sales drive your business is like letting the tail wag the dog, says Dinale. Businesses which believe they will grow by taking and filling orders are simply chasing their tails.

He argues in a dog-eat-dog business world, many of your competitors are snapping at your heels by investing in marketing to win market share and create new business.

Dinale is straightforward in his approach to shaking complacent
business owners out of their world, where their mindset is sell, sell, sell.

The real business winners actually work on their business and that's an important part of thinking about how to market their goods, services or operation.

Business must get into the hearts and heads, as well as the wallets of their customers, Dinale says. Yet growing businesses find it easier to focus on sales, mistakenly thinking that marketing is for bigger players.

No matter what size your business, the reality is that customers' needs will change and the business must innovate. That's the key to keeping customers.

Dinale says great businesses understand their customers and are not afraid of customer feedback. They work hard to define their target market and they increase their customers' perception of value.

That means they make sure they sell more than just products or simple services. They sell other things such as an experience, a relationship and more.

And related to a great marketing plan is a commitment to customer service, which of course will give off the most reliable marketing signals to a business.

Build a professional approach to marketing and, as Dinale insists, the sales will follow. To develop a great marketing plan you have to understand the four Ps: product, pricing, placement and promotion.

If these important issues are not understood, smart business owners should go looking for experts. The dumb ones who don't look for external help in critically important areas will either fail, fail to grow or persist with a forever frustrating business.

The real high-flyers eventually set up customer relationship systems to ensure that they don't miss out on opportunities to market the business. It could be as simple as having a messages-on-hold service which talks about the business when customers are waiting on the telephone.

Once these are all in place, a business can build a brand that is second to none. The bottom line is simple: the more professional the approach to marketing, the better the ultimate sales results.

Published on: Saturday, June 13, 2009

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