Tag Archive for: Marketing Plan

$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.


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.