I was recently reminded of the five great questions management guru Peter Drucker created for his foundation’s work with non-profit organizations:
- What is our mission?
- Who is our customer?
- What does the customer value?
- What are our results?
- What is our plan?
With minor tweaks, they are equally as valuable for for-profit companies to answer for themselves. Here is how we recommend revising the questions for success in for-profit businesses.
What is our mission?
Don’t let this question get you contemplating having a mission statement. A mission statement does not a marketing strategy make. With a for-profit company, ask instead, what are the core principles by which the business operates? At the end of the day, what is most important to the company owners and/or management? What is the company culture? In order to be successful, a company’s brand — and therefore its marketing message — needs to be build on these fundamentals.
You see, unless the brand promise is true to the core principles of the company, it is unlikely to come through on its promise and provide customer experiences that are consistent with its desired brand image. If a company does not deliver on its brand promise (or any promise, for that matter), that is disastrous to its credibility.
Who is our customer?
Determining who your target customers or clients are is prerequisite to developing your branding and marketing strategies. Even your product strategies.
Some companies go so far as to personify their target groups, assigning each a name, gender, age, and other characteristics.
What does the customer value?
Next it is important to determine what each target persona values in terms of your product or service area.
One important part of our work with clients is to help them see their businesses from the customer’s or client’s point of view. This is essential in marketing. This may seem obvious, but the day-to-day pressures of running a business and trying to keep it profitable, these sorts of insights can be overlooked or forgotten.
You have to know who your customers are and what is important to them about what you provide! The value you provide clients or customers is obvious to you. But that doesn’t mean your prospective customers get it.
We see the results of this all the time: Marketing copy that is written from the company’s point of view. Websites that leave us unclear on whether or not the company really does what we are looking for. Advertisements that leave us flat. Salesmen who try to sell without first understanding what we want or need.
What are our results and what is our plan?
The business news has been replete with stories of companies cutting costs to boost margins. Their results weren’t what Wall Street was looking for, so they found ways to cut more costs. Well, that’s one type of result and plan.
Then take the rare companies like Apple. Apple didn’t grow to be the world’s most valuable company just by cutting costs, they did it by creating innovative products and building a uniquely desirable brand around them with brilliant marketing.
In addition to a business strategy and plan, companies need a marketing strategy and plan as well. They are equally important to a company’s success. And it all needs to be built around a keen understanding of the company’s fundamental values and insight into its customers.