Can You Smell Trouble? ... Learn To Avoid It.


As a consultant and trainer I'm often called in to new business opportunities. On these occasions it is part of my job to help clients understand how 'big' their opportunity is.

What I have observed is that sometimes my client doesn't really understand where their service (or product) fits into the market. Or why people will want it. Or what the price should be.

To me, that smells trouble... for my client.

The Situation

One example is a fellow with a technology/IT background. He is an expert in computer network installations and problem solving.

Now he wants to launch a range of products into that field. He has asked for help to prepare a 'marketing plan'. He thinks the plan will make his product a success.

However, he doesn't really know who will be the buyer for his products, or how many they will use, or even if his expected customers will want them. At the moment he just has a "great idea". But he is ready to spend money on a marketing plan.

My advice for him is that his first step should be to understand the basics of his market -- and where his product fits into it. He can do this for little or no cost.

Take Responsibility

You see, as a business owner or entrepreneur you have to take responsibility for getting your business moving. You must understand the essential elements of what drives your clients to buy and use your services or products.

Don't make the mistake of asking someone else (like a consultant) to magically do this for you and produce a marketing plan without your input. Unless you fully understand -- and accept -- how the plan has been prepared and the recommendations it contains, you wont be committed to implementing it.

And if you don't implement it you will have wasted your money on preparing the plan.

So what can you do?

Take a smaller step before commissioning an expensive marketing plan.

My Recommendation

My suggestions for the IT client mentioned earlier are listed below. You can take the same approach for your new business idea, new service, or new product launch. Make sure you understand:
  • Who will be the buyer? (not always the customer/user of the product)
  • Who are the competitors, and what are the differences between you?
  • How much are your customers willing to pay?
  • How will you supply/service/distribute your product or service?
  • Can you manage the expected level of demand?
  • How are you going to sell it? (Online, in person, existing client base, etc)
Sure, you might say these questions should be answered as part of the marketing plan. To a degree you are right. But you don't need to leave it to preparing an entire marketing plan to gain an understanding of how 'big' your opportunity will be.

If you can do some research first and identify these key factors, then you will be far more confident in commissioning the marketing plan. Plus you will avoid wasting money on something that was on the wrong track to start with.

Most businesses need to check many facts before making decisions to commit large chunks of resources. In this case spending thousands of dollars on production of a marketing plan may not be the first thing that should be done.
Stuart Ayling
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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Stuart Ayling is Chief Sales Strategist at Marketing Nous. He specialises in sales improvement initiatives for companies that sell services or technical products. For additional resources visit the online library and sign up for the free newsletter at www.marketingnous.com.au