Throughout my experience both as an employee, as well as a consultant, in businesses across all different industries in B2B or B2C, I've noticed a trend. They find it hard to keep up with the speed of change of different external aspects to their business.
This could be industry changes, or this could be the marketplace as a whole. It could be the speed that your competitors are changing. This could be how your target audiences are changing, or it could be the speed at which marketing in general is changing.
I want to shine a light on these aspects affecting your business in hopes that you are
taking that step back at times, to really view the external aspects, because if you don't, it can really cause issues for your business. These issues can be both in terms of new opportunities
as well as just hindering business growth overall.
Industry & Marketplace Changes
Disruption is happening all the time across all different industries. This could be related to economic conditions, market demand, distribution changes, or new technologies coming out.
If you don't keep up with these changes, it can spell disaster for your business. one way to do this is with thought leadership content, which showcases both your knowledge and expertise focused on new ideas.
Therefore, taking care of that is important, and you can use something as simple as
updating your SWOT analysis to see those opportunities and those threats. It's important to not just do a SWOT analysis, if you have one, and put it up on the shelf. It's kind of business 101, but make sure you continue to update it and then feed that into your marketing as well.
If those external changes are creating new opportunities or threats for your business,
make an actionable plan around them, but then also feed that into the messaging for your marketing, so you're reaching out to target audiences with messaging that will resonate a lot better because you're up to date with everything that's going on.
If you do need any help with either a SWOT analysis or the PESTLE analysis as part of that, check out this great post "How To Achieve Business Opportunities with SWOT" that covers all the benefits and how to pull them together properly.
One of the most important areas of business is of course to keep an eye on your competition, and the speed that they're changing.
How are they taking advantage of the opportunities in the industry and in your Marketplace?
How are they countering those threats to your industry?
Are they bringing out new products or are they spinning up new marketing channels?
The thing is there's so many new companies out there. The number of companies depends on the industry, but it makes me think of the Martech space. In 2015 there were about 1900 companies and now in 2020, there's about 8,000 solutions.
It’s just so much easier these days, normally due to technology, to spin up a company and compete with you. Also, there are more viable businesses that are smaller than was practical years ago. Also, mostly due to technology, they have the ability to run these small businesses and compete with larger businesses, but with lower management costs and more efficient use of tools and technology. It's actually been shown that across all industries, companies on average normally compete against 29 other companies.
Companies are also meeting customers needs in more ways than existed in the past. Depending on the vertical you're in you may have your customers needs being met by non-direct competitors now. So you really have to have a wider purview of who your competitors actually are.
Distribution channels are changing more rapidly than ever. If you're an e-commerce business,
for example, selling products and getting them to consumers has become much much easier… I'm ready for the days that we're going to have drones flying around and delivering things. That's great for you, but also for your competitors.
So what should you do about all this? Really, overall, the name of the game is differentiation
How are you keeping up with these changes?
What's your UVP?
How are you standing out in the crowd when things are changing this rapidly?
Is your branding on point so in your target audience’s and your customer’s minds, you’re positioned correctly?
Hopefully you understand the importance of being aware of competitors as well as competitive intelligence in general. If you're interested, we actually have a great post "As an SMB, Do You Have Competitive Intelligence?".
Keeping up with all the external changes can enhance your business... but what about your internal aspects? Take advantage of a quick content marketing strategy call:
Target Audience Changes
Your Target Audiences are always changing as well. This could be related to their needs, their wants, their desires or it could be related to positioning. In essence, how you're positioned against competitors in their minds, and if you don't keep up with this external shift always occurring, that can mean obviously lower conversions. But it could also mean spending wasted money sending out marketing with messaging that's just not resonating because of these changes.
I want to highlight some of these potential audience changes just
so you're able to be aware of them.
People's tastes are becoming more varied and flexible and demanding.
A migration from rural to urban areas where they're expecting faster delivery, quicker service.
Demographics always change. The target market is always getting older and there's income shifts and everything like that.
Even psychographics change. The “why” of purchasing changes as trends change.
Most companies unfortunately use one marketing strategy for all their audiences. But hopefully you know the importance of audience segmentation. Even if you are segmenting audiences though, due to these extra changes going on in your target audiences, that could mean people are shifting from one segment to another or potentially creating a whole new segment that you're not targeting. You may one day find out that you should have been, in order to take advantage of the shifts in audiences.
Therefore, you need to be aware of these shifts in order to make sure that you're not losing out on conversions and you're not wasting any marketing dollars that is spent on messaging that's not resonating. To stay up to speed on you audience changes, at specific intervals, conduct 1st & 3rd party research to make sure you are on target with how your audiences are segmented, and how your messaging is setup around those segments.
Earlier I discussed the changes in the Martech landscape, that in 2015 there were only 1900
companies and now in 2020, there's 8,000 companies. 63% of companies feel like that space is rapidly evolving and the opportunities are evolving there. But only 28% of companies actually feel that their use of Martech has evolved at the same rate. That's somewhat relative to
the overall change in marketing.
I know from experience that it's quite different today than the “four Ps” we learned in school,
20 years ago. And of course, new technology is the biggest thing always changing in marketing. Just think about digital signage, and geofencing, and proximity beacons, and AI, and Marketing Automation.
The idea here is that new marketing channels are always available for your business and may be huge opportunities for your business, as long as you're aware of them and you take advantage of them.
I was on a webinar recently for the private beta of Hulu's new self-serve ad platform, and for as little as $500 you can be in front of thousands of Hulu viewers, gaining awareness.
There are two options here. One is to stay at the edge of the updates and new technologies. Have someone in your organization keep an eye on the latest marketing updates through feeds from specific marketing sites like Social Media Examiner, Marketing Land, or Marketing Week.
Option two is to not stay totally plugged in, but with your target audience research, simply be where your target audiences are. And if you see a spike of usage in a new channel for them, check it out.
An example of a technology that's not cutting edge technology, but I'm guessing your target audiences are using, is video. Data wise it's shown that websites that have video are 50 times more likely to garner organic search results. If you're in e-commerce, or selling anything online, 52 percent of consumers say that watching a product video will make them more likely to make a purchase decision.
You also want to make sure you keep up with marketing of new services you offer. For example, we put together this run through of how you can market and get new clients from your Remote Monitoring (RMM).
Why Spend The Time To Watch External Business Factors?
Why is it so important to be aware of these external factors and plan around them? There are 4 main benefits of doing so that will help out your business:
Gaining an advantage over competitors, which of course is so important in business.
Increasing your ROI, from software costs to ad spend, amongst other cost-cutting aspects of being aware of these external factors.
Achieving different metrics around awareness, conversion, and retention.
The big one of course is to boost Revenue.
Company growth can absolutely be boosted based on awareness of, and planning around, all of these different external factors.
Marketing is constantly evolving, and there are tons of opportunities that SMBs are not taking advantage of in order to boost revenue.
It pays to discuss your strategies.