Elevate Your Marketing Skills
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You may be fantastic at planning meetings and events or have an excellent product or service, but if no one knows about your event, product or service how will you be successful?
To be successful, you must be seen, heard and have people talking about you. You must create a marketing buzz. Successful people understand that the keys to their successes are the abilities to market or be marketed.
Meeting professionals today realize that everyone in an organization is involved in marketing in some way. It’s no longer the sole responsibility of the marketing department. Companies that understand this philosophy are considered marketing oriented—they focus on the needs of their customers, derive ways to reach that need on an emotional level and then satisfy the need.
So how do we do this, you ask? You must think ahead, focus on new opportunities and let your creative juices flow freely. Elevate your marketing skills to the next level, but don’t overlook the basics.
Most of us have very different ideas about how to define marketing. I see marketing as a strategic process. Think of it as a process that studies trends in the market place and blends marketing to influence sales or brand acceptance.
With the right campaign, you’ll get the right results. Some of us are the planners, some are the marketers and some make suggestions. Your meetings and events are marketing messages in themselves. Everything you do is marketing your company.
Before you can create a marketing campaign, you have to do the following.
- Define your target market—this is critically important because it doesn’t matter what your message is, if you’re not saying it to the right people
- Understand your prospect and competitors better than anyone else
- Innovate your business so you can create unique or superior value
A Needs Assessment
Marketing has to start here—with a needs assessment. It’s a process. It intimately understands your customer’s needs. It’s the beginning of your marketing in order for you to be able to develop the outcome.
Who are the meeting’s stakeholders? Membership, sponsors, the board of directors, committees, CVBs, trade show exhibitors (drive revenue), speakers, venues, hotels, travel partners and any strategic partners.
You must determine what they are looking for in your meeting or event. It’s the old cliché, what’s in it for me? (WIIFM) Once we’ve identified the need and satisfied it, the customer will start to tell others and then the buzz starts.
People hear buzz and buzz marketing becomes your valid source in terms of measurement. It’s word of mouth. It’s what other people hear that will sell your meeting/event.
Once you know what your customer’s needs are, you can decide how to satisfy them. This is vital in being marketing-driven versus sales-driven.
The most basic concept behind marketing is that of human needs. When the customer’s needs are not satisfied, they’ll look elsewhere to satisfy them.
To begin, you need to have a plan. Work with your team to create a competent marketing plan. To increase bottom-line results of all of your marketing efforts, reveal waste and inefficiencies and help you achieve breakthrough results.
Many companies operate without formal marketing plans. Yet formal planning encourages management to think ahead systematically. It aids the company in refining its objectives and policies, leads to better coordination of company efforts and provides clearer performance standards for control. Everyone needs to be a part of the plan to buy into it.
Your marketing plan should include the following components.
- Executive summary
- Mission statement
- Positioning statement
- Six key objectives
- Competitive set outline
- Pricing strategy
- Action steps
The Five Ps of Marketing
The marketing mix is comprised of core marketing activities. These activities include the product/service development research, communication, distribution, pricing and service. These activities are referred to as the five Ps of marketing.
1. Product. The product or service you offer to your target audience. It is important to understand your product/service from the customer’s point of view. It is important to be able to identify in one sentence why your product/service is perfect for your specific customer and what it does best.
2. Position. How your target audience defines you in relation to your competition. Remember to stand out with a unique benefit.
3. Promotion. A mix of personal selling, advertising and sales promotions that are used to promote your marketing objectives and to get more prospects that are ready to do business with you.
4. Price. The price charged for a product/service. Understand your positioning before you set a price—decide on a pricing strategy, don’t just pick a price. Even if you’re not charging for the service, you must know its value and realize that it’s part of the pricing strategy.
5. Place. The method for making your product/service available to the customer.
The marketing mix is where you begin spending your marketing budget. Begin promoting your business, meeting or event in the most cost-effective way.
The goal of marketing is to retain current customers by delivering satisfaction and to attract new customers by promising value for price paid. We have to remind them of WIIFM. This is true because customers never forget a bad experience, and they’ll tell many others. So be certain to deliver on your value promise.
When most people think of marketing, they think of marketing tactics. Tactics are sometimes referred to as the fun part of marketing. Keep in mind, though, that tactics are only as successful as the sound basis of knowledge put into them.
Tactics allow us to capture the attention of our target audience. Our tactics should convince them that they’ve made the best possible decision to purchase our products or services.
We should use several tactics when getting our message out including promotions, advertising, direct mail, sales calls, public relations, Web site/e-mail, networking and strategic alliances.
The key to marketing is to see your company as it is seen by your customers. Remember to coordinate your marketing efforts for maximum impact and to be consistent with your message and persistent with your actions.
THERESA SYER is president of Hospitality Solutions. She can be contacted at [email protected]
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