We open our pages periodically to others who want to add their voice to the blogosphere.
Our guest blogger is Aileen Galsim, a graphic and print design enthusiast in the U.K. who blogs for Showcase Creative, a UK based printing company that provides Custom Presentation folders, calendars, and other printed presentation products. Aileen asks that you check out http://www.showcasecreative.com to see their range of products.
Many people believe that a great marketing plan is the most important part of getting your products or services out into the mainstream. After all, a company can have the best product in the world, but if nobody knows about it, then it’s a waste, right?
But a marketing plan can be completely useless to a company’s bottom line if its products or services are not up to industry standards.
If you have a budding business and feel like you are ready to take the next step by investing in a marketing plan, the first action that you should take—and it may be one that saves you money in the long run—is to make sure that your products and services are good enough to handle close scrutiny from the general public.
Being a small- or medium-sized business can often keep your products or services insulated from truthful advice or constructive criticism from customers. One of the smartest things a company can do before embarking on a large-scale marketing plan is to invest money into improving its products and services first.
There is no advertising campaign in the world that can cover up for a bad product or a company that provides poor service. Defects that may not have been an issue with hundreds of customers may become apparent when you have thousands of customers. And your customer service people may be stellar, but are they prepared to handle the sudden surge in sales?
If not, the consumer will catch on very quickly in these times of social media, and your company will lose sales, customers, and its overall reputation.
Start from the Bottom Up
It's natural to want to start from the top and work down. The mindset of trying to get as many customers as possible first, and then focusing on your products or services, can bring a quick, short-term boost to your sales, but it could be little more than a mirage. Exposing your products to a large market prematurely can do more harm than good.
What can you do to ensure you’re providing earnest service?
- Conduct thorough product testing
- Re-train your service employees
- Make sure your customer service is scalable to your growth
- Use surveys and questionnaires to get feedback from current clients
- Speak with a lawyer about potential liabilities
Even after your marketing plan launches, you'll want to ensure you’re staying on top of what the customer is thinking. Newsletters and social media can provide ways to communicate with customers, to be sure you are addressing their needs and staying on top of any potential issues.
Word-of-mouth is still one of the most powerful marketing tools available. In fact, the internet has only made it stronger, since one person’s opinion can be heard by hundreds, if not thousands, through blogs and social media. Remember, you want long-term growth, not just a blip.
The key is to build a solid foundation by providing a great produce or service first, and then embark on a large-scale marketing plan later. Everything starts with your reputation, and once that is in place, your marketing, advertising, and sales will begin to take care of themselves.