The past ninety (90) days or nine (9) weeks or three (3) months has been tumultuous beyond everyone’s standard and imaginations. Business leaders felt battered and hostile while businesses are faced with financial meltdown, turndown, deepest recession, greatest depression, and market turmoil. Well, it since that the dust is getting settling: it always has and always will. But things are not simple as appears to be and if you have to survive post the pandemic as a business a person, I suggest you have to adapt and quickly, else you will be left behind. Decisive answers to the crisis vary across industries and business lines, as captured vividly by a recent Goldman Sachs headline, “Light at the End of the Tunnel or an Oncoming Train? Depends on Where You Are Standing.”
Business leaders became frontline workers of their respective organizations and considered bellwethers working tirelessly with tightened belts to navigate through by reinventing and finding the upside in the downturn. As Winston Churchil once said, we should never waste a good crisis. Perhaps there’s a good greater gift of the current pandemic or crisis. I personally think the crisis is an opportunity to Review, Reposition, Reshape, Resource, and most importantly Rebuild your marketing strategies to stand a better chance of joining prosperity train.
Strategy is a dynamic process that characterizes how the firm should act upon, implement, or adapts to its environment-Miller & Friesen. A marketing strategy is a set of integrated marketing activities in pursuit of competitive advantage. A successful marketing strategy must be holistic, integrated and synergistic. Base on your organisational stance (leader, challenger, follower and niche market) will inform you either to use Defensive Strategy or Offensive Strategy or Growth strategy.
This article is designed to give business leaders a framework to realign their marketing strategies after the pandemic to build back their businesses better and become more sustainable, resilient and stronger. The steps are based on my observations on how businesses can deal swiftly with the changing business environment to stay relevant, differentiate and indispensable.
- Review The Current Marketing Strategy
When the storm is over, it’s that time to really review or evaluate or conduct marketing audit on your current marketing strategy to identify the strength and weakness of the strategy. This involves reviewing where the company’s marketing strategy has been, how it has being doing, and what hindrance is likely to face in the years ahead if not change. This will help you to know if it is necessary to revise the old strategy or device (reposition) to help you engage, keep and grow your customer base to achieve the company’s objective.
Thoroughly assess or review your current market conditions to help you re-match the current market conditions with new repositioning desired. It’s important to attach seriousness to the review process of the strategy relating to the foreknowledge you have on the prevailing condition since it don’t make sense to stop what’s already working.
Every coach will tell you that rigidity does not win games. This applies to business as well, as part of the marketing strategy, you need to allow flexible when it becomes necessary to adapt to the new reality or when things become tough. Do thorough analysis of what you sell, who you sell it to, how you deliver what you sell before rush into action of repositioning.
You can master these steps to review your current marketing strategy;
- Thoroughly review or assess the current new normal (reality) with the current marketing strategy
- Assess the fitness of current marketing strategy with current reality
- Is your current marketing strategy viable? If no, how can you reposition to make it viable again?
- Look for strategic windows or turns (strategic windows describes the limited amount of time in which a firm’s resources coincide with a particular market opportunity)
- Reposition to meet the new opportunities, move rapidly and decisively
- Reposition Your Marketing Strategy To Reflect The New Reality
Periods of crisis, recession, depression, and temporal business closure down that have no or with little growth potentials are said to be good indicators for repositioning. Reposition is where a company wishes to change its choice of market segment with a chosen differentiated attribute to compete well, strengthen its brand presence or find new unexploited position.
Repositioning may be necessary for a number of reasons: Change in customer needs, Change in market conditions, Search for viable position, Become relevant to customers and Win new customers. Whatever marketing strategy the organisation wants to reposition to must not just be done haphazardly but must be done with awareness of the reality at hand, that’s the new normal. The idea behind repositioning is simple by looking at the past, present and adjusting for the future to remain relevant to the target audience.
The repositioned marketing strategy must be concise to the new normal and relevant to the extent that the strategy can help you deliver to your new target audience and stop doing or working with the old strategy that isn’t working for you anymore. An expert often said “Let’s go hunting when the birds are flying”. The newly adopted (secure position) must be helpful to the current situations; thus be able to meet the customer’s needs, wants and demands else it will be a waste of time, energy and resources.
Gerald A. Michaelson and Steven Michaelson contends that “recession provide great opportunities for the nimble to cheaply, opportunistically improve their market position”. Reposition to strategic areas the business has superiority or competitive advantage ahead of current and potential rivals. Reposition into strategic areas where it’s found that the business product or service have a unique features and benefits and can help the business achieve its profitability goal. Before you reposition ask and answer the following questions:
- What would it mean to us if we reposition our business?
- Where could it lead us?
- What would we have to do to convert it into an opportunity?
- How do we go about it?
- Reshape Your Marketing Strategic Moves
Strategic move is the set of managerial actions and decisions involved in making a major market-creating business offering. Before reshaping your marketing strategic moves into unchartered waters, make sure you can clearly and concisely identify a problem (market opportunities) in which your product can serve as a best solution. Do not limit you thinking to current problems (market opportunities) that can be solved with existing strategic tools; else as saying goes “if the only tool you have is hammer, everything will look like a nail.” In reshaping your strategic moves you can either use sequential moves (planned steps to achieve success) or cumulative moves (series of random actions piling up to achieve success). The moves should be focus on success critical factors that gives you competitive advantage, and when you have unique advantage you should be able to get significant portion of the market.
You can reshape your marketing strategic moves through strategic alliance or holding strategic position in the marketplace using technology, key buyers, and distribution channels to deny competitors access to key market. The strategic moves should capture the key decision makers in the buying process. For instance Wal-Mart initial strategic move was focused on small towns, but reshaped merchandising strategies across a wide variety of industries and wide across the globe. ESPN initial strategic move was a network of sporting events, ESPN has reshape it strategic priorities into a network for sport junkies, that supplies sporting news, and events to every single continent. Your strategic moves or priorities must be only and only reshape in relations to the reality on the ground with the information gathered and learned from the marketplace.
- Resource The Newly Adopted Marketing Strategy
Following a successful review, repositioning, and reshape of your marketing strategy, resourcing the strategy is a powerful component of the strategy you just rollout to rebuild. In Sun Tzu “strategies for marketing, 12 essential principles for winning the war for customer”, Genrald A. Michaelson and Steven W. Michaelson say assess accurately where you deploy your resources. With the right marketing strategy identified is only half of the battle won, the marketing strategy succeeds only when it’s fully resourced with the needed finance, else it will be difficult as changing a car tire while the car is moving.
Invest enough resources in a form of money, man power, machines, and material assets so that the marketing strategy can be sustained. As Genrald A. Michaelson and Steven W. Michaelson said “In every battle, the one with the most resources has the odds in his favour.” Because of inadequate resources, it’s important to have repositioned your marketing strategy in the most sizeable, profitable and growable market territory with the smaller investment. This will go a long way to help the business to strategically achieve relative dominance, survival and prosperity. Every cut that you make is going to cut your ability to generate revenue or keep your business going, which is not something you want to be doing right now. Any marketing strategy can be achieved if enough resource is concentrated to support it.
- Rebuild The Newly Adopted Marketing Strategy
The new marketing strategy should be design or build in a way that your competitors will not have anywhere near or equal chance to win over you. Begin to communicate to reach the new target group you intended to serve now and build up the strategy adopted with deeper key customer insights (KCI), tools, and measurement to help you penetrate and capture the dynamic demand and position yourself well for the recovery or for business take off. A key customer insight (KCI) is very important for every business because it will lead to understanding how consumer behavior has changed.
Repositioning marketing strategy is a matter of life and death or survival and ruin, therefore it is important that a thorough studied or review be done before implementation or action. Every strategy delivers on three 3Cs (coordinate, concentrate and communicate). Your marketing strategy should coordinate all your organization’s resources and action; concentrate on specific products, service, and markets. Finally, the strategy must communicate to all members of the organisation what they supposed to do. Every business manager or marketer should be familiar with these 3Cs and master them. He who masters them wins; he who does not is defeated. Finally, if you don’t adapt, reposition and quickly, you will be left behind.
Mali Albert Shiebila is the Lead Marketing Consultant for MarketWell Ghana Ltd (MWG) in Bolgatanga, Upper East Region. He is also the CEO of Reliance Bookshop. He holds BSc in Marketing, Chartered Accountant (from ICA-Ghana) and a member of the same institute. He writes about relevant marketing topics and pieces.