People are the ultimate marketing strategy. People sell and push the product. People search hard to find the right market. People distribute, promote, price, and sell the products in the most attractive market places. People aim to please the customers through continuing service and product enhancements long after the customers have bought the product. People are the regular contact points between the enterprise and its market.
The people in a marketing organization play a crucial role in the success of the enterprise. At one end of the spectrum, they are conducting the market and consumer research that would lead to the development of product(s) and the formulation of the marketing strategy. At the middle of the spectrum, they are devising the marketing plans and programs that would be translated to the specific elements of the marketing mix. At the other end of the spectrum, they are contacting, reaching, and convincing customers to buy the product(s).
The market strategizing must be matched by the footwork that goes into distributing and selling products. One without the other will fail. If all the marketing research and planning work did not produce the right products for the intended customers, then it would be extremely difficult to distribute and sell the products. The wrong products need a superhuman sales force with charismatic powers. The right products only need good distribution channels and an effective sales force.
The marketing efforts of people are organized at four levels: (1) to create customer awareness; (2) to arouse customer interest; (3) to educate customers as they evaluate their buying choices; and (4) to close the sale and deliver the products.
To arouse the interest of customers, the enterprise can use several people or organizational modalities.
The first modality is to outsource the people from advertising agencies, events management outfits, call centers, and telemarketers. The second modality is to build in-house capabilities by hiring market researchers, brand managers, salespeople, public relations officers, website writers, orchestrators, etc. The third modality is to collaborate or enter into partnerships with principals, distributors, dealers, and industry associations.
Educating customers in their evaluation process requires the enterprise to know the customer’s decision-making process.
- What and who are involved in the buying process?
- Where are the customers in the buying process? Are they still canvassing and “shopping around”? Are they currently focusing on a few candidates? Are they seriously evaluating the company’s product?
- What are the next steps of the customers and how can the company facilitate their next steps? What else do the customers need to know and what issues must be addressed by the marketer? The customer evaluation process may follow something similar to the table below.
Comparison of product features and probable resultsby:
Word of mouth feedback
Customers who have tried the products before
Professional evaluator’s guidebook on competing products
Testimonials from credible endorsers
How often others are seen actually using the product or services
Free trial period
Money-back guarantee offer
Finally, the sale must be closed and the products should be delivered to the customer. Closing the sale demands that the product be available, adequate, acceptable, and affordable.
Availability means that the enterprise has the goods or services on hand. Accessible means that the customers can easily get the product from their usual buying places or the products can be conveniently delivered to them. Adequate means the product meets the quality and delivery specifications of the customer. Acceptable means that the customer is convinced by the selling points of the product, find very little or no objectionable features in the product, and accepts the conditionality, warranties, and amenities given by the seller. Affordable means the price and payment terms are right.
The organizational modality to educate the customers, to help them in their decision-making process, and to close the sale would depend on four variables.
- Is there a need for high contact (face to face) or will low contact (Internet) be sufficient?
- Is there a need for high accessibility? If so, the company requires distributors, dealers, branches, and franchisees to expand their reach. Alternatively, they need a very fast, reliable, and economical delivery system.
- How heavy or light is the transaction cost? High transaction cost products need new competent people to sell them.
- Does the customer need a lot of sale servicing and after-sales servicing?