Tag Archive for: Business Marketing Strategy

Business growth through sales culture change

It would be understandable to think that issues related to sales are down to the sales process, pricing and the overall sales strategy. This is after all what drives a business’ sales levels and its approach to selling in the marketplace. However, dig a little deeper, and you’ll see the massive impact the culture of your sales team has on the implementation of your strategy. Perhaps the sales strategy is strong and appropriate for your offering, but how is it being executed and how is this being managed?

We were engaged by a major player in the Australian construction landscape to implement changes to their sales process and pricing structure to optimise margins. Our client’s construction reinforcing product had been used in most of the iconic structures in Australia including the Sydney Opera House, Melbourne’s Westgate Bridge and freeway, and Brisbane’s Gateway bridges. The company was well known and well established (100 years).

It initially appeared that the issues impacting sales and ultimately margins were related to the sales strategy. However, after a period of discovery, it became clear that sales performance was impacted primarily by the people within the sales team. While dedicated and committed, the sales team were agreeing to meet every customer requirement. There’s nothing wrong with putting the customer first and focusing on customer needs, but in this case, it resulted in unclear accountabilities. If you agreed to everything, who is going to follow through with the requests, and importantly can / should they be met? Inefficiencies were the result, as the team lacked clarity on what to prioritise and how.

Develop an effective sales strategy that is fully understood by staff to ensure consistency and accountability, but that also supports an effective management of performance.

In this case, there was no ‘organisation’ behind the sales team effort. To address the culture and performance inequities, Gibsons worked to embed processes and practices designed to clarify accountabilities, and to manage sales performance both company wide, and for sales team personnel. In total, 6 improvement programs were established and implemented over a 6-month period. This phased roll out started with the company’s Queensland team and are being progressively implemented across the rest of the business.

No matter how astute a management team is, often there are issues that from the inside are easy to miss, or people are too ‘close’ to the challenges, to effectively manage them. A Gibsons Senior Consultant who lives and breathes business improvement, will quickly get a feel for your business and be able to identify areas for improvement.

With accountabilities now understood and aligned across the entire sales process, these improvement programs have enabled the sales team to be more focused. An ‘achievement’ sales culture that the company was seeking has been established and revenue targets are being exceeded. The business growth potential identified has been enabled through this sales team reinvigoration. As is often the case, it’s not always that a strategy is wrong for your business. Often, the processes in place for implementation and management are not there; or are misunderstood or inappropriately executed by your team. Ensure your people know what they are accountable for and set up ways to manage this. Support your business’ potential by providing clarity in roles and expectations, and transparency in how this aligns with your overall company objectives.

As with many projects Gibsons work on, the reason we are called in is not always the cause of the challenges being faced. A Gibsons consultant is accustomed to scanning operations from a more objective viewpoint, with the benefit of deep experience gained from scores of business improvement projects. They can almost immediately spot problem areas that you may not be aware of. Find out more about the services we offer to support businesses and let us take the following tasks off your list:

  • Strategic analysis and business plans
  • Becoming an Employer of Choice
  • Marketing and sales plans
  • Brand development and promotion
  • Business process modelling
  • Improving systems and workflows
  • Optimising organisational structure
  • Pinpointing skills gaps and implementing training.
  • Reviewing financial performance
  • Profitability improvement programs
  • Managing organisational change
  • Mentoring to develop executive leadership.
  • Business process modelling
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Technology strategy and implementation

$2.5 million sales growth in only 2 years

While most business owners know the importance of an effective strategy for their company, it is also very easy to be drawn into the day-to-day operations and lose sight of the larger picture. As an owner, you can find yourself becoming far too hands-on and create a position where you are completely indispensable. Without you, things just don’t and can’t happen effectively. This can work initially, but over the longer term, what happens when you go on annual leave, or want to expand the business, or are ready to retire?

This was the situation a construction supplies business found itself in. The owner was looking to retire but the business was not able to operate effectively without him. The owner had focused on daily operations and as a result, over the years, operational health and safety, quality, good processes, organisational structure, and human resource management frameworks had been overlooked. The 3% Earnings Before Interest and Taxes the business was returning was insufficient for the invested efforts.

Business structure and the people in your business are key to any company’s success. Get the structure right, and people in the right roles operating well and cohesively with each other, and the business to create a winning situation.

Our role was to look at appropriate strategic planning with the development of a business and succession plan. The company’s current processes and structures had created a divide among management and production teams, very much to the extent of an ‘us and them’ culture. There was low engagement and limited accountability, with the business reliant on just a few individuals. While functioning, the business was in a fragile state.

Turning this $7 million business into a $9.5 million one, was a 2-year project with Gibsons advisors involved throughout. The first step looked to address the management structure. Existing roles were firmed up, some roles were moved, and others recruited. A new General Manager was appointed, and a mentoring program established to ensure close guidance and a sounding board in the implementation of other improvements. A better framework for management meetings as well as performance reviews and reporting were established. Improvements such as the Gibsons Employer of Choice program designed to invoke culture change and accountability, were actioned.

Get your team right and a structure to support this and you set your business up for success. Don’t, and you find yourself working hard without seeing results.

With the right people in place, doing the right things, the second step was to improve production processes via the establishment of a Production Success Team and the implementation of 5S processes and practice on the floor. Next, we addressed sales and marketing to build awareness of the company offering and to grow their market. Customers were interviewed to determine easy wins and long-term improvement opportunities. A rebrand was recommended and initiated.

The results were a $2.5 million sales improvement (to $9.5 million) with an increase in Earnings Before Interest and Taxes to 12%. Operational performance greatly improved and there is capacity to maintain this performance. Further growth is predicted, and the owner can consider retirement in the knowledge that the business now has a highly accountable and functioning team, management structure and strategic direction.

Find out more about the Gibsons approach to strategic planning to set your own business on the path to success.

Maximising your returns through full product utilisation.

Clients often reach out to us when profit levels don’t match expectations and when there is a sense that the business could be doing more. Inviting a knowledgeable and experienced third-party consultant like Gibsons in, provides the opportunity for a deep dive into what is happening in your business.

strategic review of your business provides insight into opportunities that could be exploited and how. It provides reassurance of risks to mitigate against and the steps needed to do this.

Frequently, when we first engage with a new client, we will take them through a strategic review. This may be a company-wide review which is designed to unravel key business concerns and to determine why things are not working as they should. If the business has a specific goal in mind, we will instead conduct a more specific strategic review designed to evaluate the business and the market; and to outline the steps required to move the business in the direction required. This was the case with SSS Strawberries, a producer of fresh berries who were facing the challenge of how to best utilise their non-premium quality and end-of-season fruit.

SSS Strawberries were not maximising potential returns over the entire growing season and was looking to change this. The owners had identified that freeze drying the fruit would enable an increase in revenues and margins but looked to Gibsons to identify how best to enable this. We were commissioned to develop strategic; business and feasibility plans to advance this new product line and take it to market.

We identified 3 stages to bring this product to market: a research and design phase, capital investment, and finally full production with future growth as sales increased and capacity levels were met. We handpicked a team of specialists across the areas of branding, food product commercialisation and packaging, to support the research and design phase for bringing the product to market. This phase focused on determining a name – Gina’s table, brand identity and packaging for the product.The results of this research were crucial as they would go on to shape the entire marketing and sales approach. They would also provide confidence that the direction and decisions made were appropriate, before significant investment in capital took place.

To determine the feasibility of bringing freeze dried fruit to market, we looked firstly at the target consumer – what were their motivations to purchase and their buying behaviour, what competing products did they already purchase, why would they choose this product over others and how could we influence this. In-store research regarding purchase behaviour tracking and Q&A sessions supported this. We looked at the marketplace – what products or competitors were already selling similar products, what consumer needs were being met, price points and packaging. We went on to consider product positioning in the market along with packaging, Point of Sales materials, merchandising, channels to market and the overall brand – tone of voice and brand personality (essentially the look and feel of the brand).

To successfully determine the feasibility of a new product launch, you must fully understand the product and how it will better meet the needs of consumers than competitors. Without extensive research and clarity around your product’s positioning in the marketplace, as well as a strong and consistent brand identity, you are unlikely to succeed.

It was concluded that the product would be marketed to 3 consumers: wholesalers (for sale to end consumers and processors), retail distributors, and online direct to end consumers. The next steps in taking the product to market is capital investment as well as the development of a robust marketing plan to promote the product nationality through all relevant channels. Expansion and conversion of premises as well as the installation of new freeze-drying capacity and pre and post processing equipment to package, store and ship the product are required. Once production is up to capacity and as sales demand grows, further expansion is possible to include a variety of fruits, herbs and food for sale under the company’s own brand or by other processors. Marketing would be ramped up in support of this.

Preparing SSS Strawberries for a national food product launch and extending its product line was no small feat. It is a great example of the full breadth of experience and expertise that Gibsons Consultants provide to clients across business strategy, human resource management, marketing, process development and profit building. For a guiding hand with your business, contact us for a no obligation chat with one of our experienced consultants.

How to ‘win’ in marketing and make it an investment, not an expense.

A lot of clients who first approach us for help with marketing are looking for ad hoc amplification of their messages, without first understanding what their messages should be. Most businesses have no real understanding of their Unique Selling Points, who their ideal target audience is, or what their winning competitive proposition should be. These are strategic problems that contribute to confusion in any marketing effort, making it an expense.

To ‘win’ in marketing and make it an investment rather than an expense, you need to completely understand your brand, what your customers want and who they are and should be. What makes your offering different and ultimately better than competitors is key. This cannot be successfully achieved in an informal or unplanned way. A thorough analysis of your standing in the marketplace, your product / service proposition (and your competitors) is needed first.

Without a carefully considered marketing strategy and full business review, your marketing endeavours are unlikely to generate the results you want. To make it an investment, a good strategy must sit behind marketing.

Gibsons was commissioned to support an iconic, Queensland owned manufacturing brand who had been experiencing year on year decline. Aggressive offshore product competition and a decision to by-pass a dealer network, had created a cost cutting strategy for a company that simply could not compete on price. The company was taken through a thorough Strategic Review Process which included comprehensive business analysis along with a rigorous customer research project. This review and research provided the insight and clarity to determine the most appropriate future direction and strategy for the business. The need to execute a repositioning strategy to rebrand the business as a premium product was determined, rather than the focus on cost cutting measures that were in place. This enabled the company to reclaim its market position.

A strategic review coupled with customer research can shed invaluable light on where your business is, and where it should be for success.

Successfully enabling a “premium” brand position is a very safe market position to hold. It means the company doesn’t have to compete on price but allows the brand to be the best it can be. Establishing “premium” positioning is well worth the investment.

To facilitate a “premium” brand position, rigorous and sensitive attention to both the visual and behavioural values of the brand are crucial to enable alignment with a high-end position. Brand design needs the expertise and experience of a qualified branding communications expert. A minimalistic “less is more” approach is taken to visuals, supported by a “luxury” or “premium” colour palette and professional photography. All marketing materials must follow the brand guidelines – consistency is essential and must rigorously be adhered to. All brand elements must speak to “quality”, have clean lines as well as superior legibility.

To oversee and manage the rebrand, Gibsons acted as the “agency” and assembled a team of experts across photography, branding, and copywriting. Gibsons brought its extensive marketing knowledge to execute on the repositioning and to ensure adherence to “premium” was established throughout. The importance and the “how to” of maintaining this brand identity was also planned. All too often we see a strong brand unravel over time as off-brand design elements creep in, and corners are cut. Without a strict adherence to brand guidelines, all the hard work and expense of setting up a successful and company specific brand identity can be undermined.

The results speak for themselves: sales rose from a $30,000 – $80,000 range per month, to $80,000 – $180,000 per month during our period of engagement. Also, a strong brand in a competitive marketplace with the “quality and premium” brand elements were maintained. If marketing investment and other initiatives continue at a similar intensity, a sales level of $3.6 million per year (from $1.8 million at the start of engagement with Gibsons) in 3 years while maintaining a 15% profit level is on track.

Find out more about the Gibsons Strategic Review Process and how it can benefit your business.

Marketing Strategy and Objectives

Business Marketing Strategy Statement

Once the analysis part of your business marketing strategy planning is complete, the key requirement is to articulate your overall marketing strategy. In other words, what is the overall marketing direction that will be taken in order to reach your business goals? Most importantly, the strategy statement will take into account what you have recognised as your sustainable competitive advantage and the value proposition that you will offer to the market.

Typically, a B2B marketing strategy statement will define the positioning of the business by addressing things such as whether the aim is to be a high quality / high value player; lowest cost, high volume; full service provider; specialist niche or other factors.

Business Marketing Objectives

In order to implement an effective marketing plan, you need to define exactly what you are trying to achieve. The reason that a lot of SMEs waste money is that their marketing efforts are a collection of ad hoc initiatives with no plan or structure behind what they are trying to achieve. Once you have defined what it is that you wish to achieve, it is relatively straightforward to determine whether or not an activity or initiative will take you towards your goal.

Your objectives should include an indication of the quantum of sales revenue that the marketing effort needs to support. You can construct a marketing plan that will increase sales by $1 million or $10 million, the difference will be the resource level required to implement it. The other aspect of having a quantified goal is that it will tell you whether or not you need to enter new markets.

In our role as business consultants, we often find businesses turning over $10 million that want to grow to $12.5 million over three years in a very large (say $500 million plus) market. They are considering introducing new products, setting up interstate or attacking the export market. While all of these things are laudable, the reality in many cases is that the desired growth can be achieved by better farming of the home paddock, which is known territory and will be the lowest cost option.

In B2B markets that have a large number of potential customers, the strategic objectives will usually include a statement about creating an awareness level amongst a community of potential buyers who will find you when they are ready to buy. This is what will drive your social media strategy, which these days is an essential part of how you communicate with your customers.

Some typical B2B marketing objectives:

  • Build revenue to $12 million per annum within 3 years.
  • Position the business as the industry specialist that meets all Australian Standards requirements and has compliant HSEQ systems.
  • Increase awareness amongst potential customers of the one stop shop offer.
  • Position the business as the clear choice, number two supplier to the market leader in Queensland.
  • Diversify the customer base such that no single client represents more than 20% of revenue.
  • Generate sufficient business to support a separate Service and Maintenance Department.
  • Position the business as the low risk supplier of choice in the target market.

Once you have articulated your business marketing strategy statement and defined well researched, specific and achievable marketing objectives (perhaps with the assistance of an experienced business consultant?), your B2B marketing strategy is well on its way to being successfully implemented to achieve your business objectives.


Market Segmentation: B2B Marketing

Why is Segmenting Your Market Useful?

In most cases, it is useful to analyse your market to see if it divides into groups or segments that have like needs. You may find that the requirements one segment has for your product or service are different to those of another. Then, based on the market segmentation and the needs of various market segments, you can plan your Business to Business (B2B) marketing strategy and tailor your offers and communication messages in a far more targeted and meaningful way.

In regard to B2B marketing, segmentation of your market may also go beyond the level of an overall business customer and down to a division or department level of individual business customers.

For instance, if you are selling components to an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) that also has a service division, you may find the lead times required are quite different for the two divisions. A short lead time may be a key requirement of the service department but may not be a priority for the production department. Therefore, you will need to adapt your offer and the presentation of your value proposition to suit the specific department and/or market segment. You may even need to use different distribution channels.

You could find that your market does segment neatly by industry or customer type, size or geography. In most B2B markets, this is generally the way customers are divided into groups, however, unless the segmentation provides you with a group with similar needs and buying behaviours, the grouping is unlikely to be very useful. For instance, if you are selling a product to dry food warehouses and cold stores, but their needs are the same, segmenting by industry is not particularly useful.

The key things to look for when segmenting your market are that the segments are:

  • Meaningful – grouped on parameters that will determine how you approach them,
  • Identifiable – actually recognisable and reachable in real life – not just a conceptual grouping,
  • Substantial – a group that is large enough to warrant having resources specifically applied to it, and
  • Accessible – you can reach them in a practical and cost effective way.

The aim of segmenting your B2B market is to ensure you are specifically aiming your offer at a group of business customers who have like needs and are not just taking a shotgun approach to the market as a whole.


Situation Analysis to kick off your Business Marketing Strategy

How To Develop Your Business Marketing Strategy: Situation analysis

Business Marketing Strategies are developed from a straightforward analysis. It begins with a situation analysis.

Situation analysis

What is the current condition of your business and the market that you are in? Or what is your starting point? And what does your business need to do to achieve its vision?

A situation analysis establishes the current condition of your business and the market and is the starting point for establishing what your business needs to do to achieve its vision.

SWOT Analysis

This simple technique is used to identify and evaluate possible strategies to guide the future direction of your business.

It looks at Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Strengths and weaknesses tend to be internal issues; opportunities and threats tend to be external.

SWOT-AnalysisYou can best determine your SWOT factors in a brain storming session with your key staff. The most important part of the analysis is to decide what you intend to do about each factor.

Ideally, aim to apply your strengths to opportunities. Alternatively, look at how to address a weakness that may be stopping you from taking advantage of an opportunity, or decide what action to take to block a threat.

Strengths (internal, positive factors)

Strengths describe the positive attributes, tangible and intangible, internal to your organization.

Weaknesses (internal, negative factors)

Weaknesses are aspects of your business that detract from the value you offer or place you at a competitive disadvantage. You need to select strategies that do not depend on these attributes. Alternatively, if the best opportunities available to you are dependent on these weaker aspects, do something about them .

Opportunities (external, positive factors)

Opportunities are external attractive factors that your business could take advantage of in order to prosper.

Threats (external, negative factors)

Threats include external factors beyond your control that could place your strategy, or the business itself, at risk. You may have no control over these, but you may benefit by having contingency plans to address them if they should occur.

Have you done a SWOT analysis on your business lately? If you want to develop a business marketing strategy for your business (or perhaps you simply haven’t done a situational analysis on your business recently) then schedule time now to make a SWOT analysis a priority.

Get your key staff members together to contribute their ideas and perspectives and encourage them to invest in the planning process for your business marketing strategy right from the start. Perhaps you could seek out a business consultant who can offer their expertise as an independent third party to help you to create a marketing strategy.

However you decide to do it, performing a situation analysis is the first step to a business marketing strategy that will enable your business to achieve the vision you have for it.


Know your Business Direction: Business Marketing Plan

You Cannot Develop a Marketing Plan if You Don’t Know Where Your Business is Going

Marketing cannot exist in isolation from the overall business strategy.

Before you can establish and implement an effective marketing plan, you must first define the overall strategic goals for the business. For example, the marketing plan for a business to grow from $5 million to $6 million will be quite different to the marketing plan to grow from $5 million to $10 million.

Any business planning process involves three elements:

  • Establish where you are now
  • Identify where you want to be or what you want to achieve
  • Determine how you are going to get there.

The critical difference that impacts the planning process for Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) compared to large organisations is that, in most SMEs, the owner / managing director and his or her family are directly involved in running the business to achieve personal goals. Whereas, in large companies, the business is generally run by professional managers to achieve corporate goals.

Therefore, the starting point for a business marketing plan for an SME is to have a clear understanding of what the goals or personal mission statements are for each of the stakeholders. Only then can you develop a clear vision for the business and define the business goals. The marketing strategy can then be developed to achieve the business goals.

Creating Brand Names

Creating a brand name for a new product or service often consumes a large amount of time, perhaps more time than warranted. We try to be overly creative and clever and sometimes come up with answers that are only meaningful to the company – not the customer.

In fact, it can be very helpful to seek advice or opinions from outside the company, whether that be to utilise the expertise of a business marketing consultant, and/or request feedback from prospective customers.

The key thing is to get the strategy right and let the clever creative stuff come later. Once you can say what the brand name is and why the name was chosen, you can provide that information to a graphic designer to translate into a logo. When assessing the logo, consider whether it is consistent with the marketing strategy of your business rather than if it uses your favourite colour.

Branding needs to fit the product or service and make it stand out from your competitors, engage customers and be consistent with your business marketing strategy.

A few things to consider when creating brand names:

  • Articulate the brand promise and company positioning so that you can test your ideas back against them
  • Embody logic in the name. It should indicate or refer to the business you are in
  • Start with some words that are relevant to the brand and extend the list using a thesaurus
  • Using a name that is already famous in another context can be memorable
  • Start with a letter that is early in the alphabet – there will be times when your name is listed or ranked alphabetically
  • Make it easy to say and spell
  • Internationalise the spelling
  • Word combinations are memorable. Try different combinations from your list
  • Use of mythological figures can be useful
  • Avoid initials and acronyms
  • Avoid numbers and hyphens
  • Check that the domain name and trademark are available before making a decision.

Once you have created a list of possible brand names, rate your preferred 3 to 5 brand names on a scale of 1 to 10 against the following criteria:

  1. Is your first impression of the brand name strong?
  2. Does it sound / look good?
  3. Is it easy to read / pronounce / spell?
  4. Use it in a number of sentences. Does it feel right?
  5. Are quick associations positive?
  6. Does it relate to the brand promise / company position?
  7. Does it sound credible?
  8. Can it work internationally?
  9. Is it memorable?
  10. Is it able to be registered as a business name and is the domain name available?
  11. Does it make you feel nervous? (low score is better)

Creating a brand name and developing the overall branding of a new product or service requires more than just clever ideas. Branding needs to fit the product or service and make it stand out from your competitors, engage customers and be consistent with your business marketing strategy. If you follow the guidelines above, you are well on your way to developing a brand name and product or service branding that will strategically position your brand and your business in the marketplace.