There are three basic types of businesses: those which are driven by products, those which are driven by markets, and those which are driven by media.
These are the businesses or organisations which survive and expand simply because they produce something which a large body of people need - supermarkets, doctors’ surgeries, state schools are all examples of this type. They automatically have a large enough market to get by without particularly needing to advertise or seek out new public. Business just comes to them because they have certain basic products which they make available at an affordable, or no, cost.
These businesses or organisations are ones which survive and expand because they actively seek out and acquire new customers, such as Argos or Ikea. People don’t actually NEED the products they offer as such, but they can be made to WANT them - and to want them from that particular business, not a competitor’s.
Aggressive marketing and swift and effective delivery are used in this sector to gain enough customers to expand.
Many businesses are in this category - perhaps even the majority - and many fail precisely because they don’t correctly estimate the amount that they have to market themselves to get enough business, and then fail to provide what is needed and wanted fast enough or to a sufficiently high quality.
9 out of 10 small businesses fail in the UK largely due to this factor alone.
There’s a third category - those businesses driven almost solely by media. These businesses produce things which aren’t vital at all but which are so hyped up through massive media campaigns and clever positioning that they become ‘part of the furniture’ of a culture, Coca-cola, MacDonald's and most of the modern music industry being prime examples. People really don’t NEED their products. In the case of Coke, the product is even poisonous, but such is the worldwide PR domination that the product is in demand all over the world.
These businesses require huge advertising, develop themselves extensively as ‘brands’ and tend to go for youth markets which then ensures that, as their loyal customers grow up, they work themselves into the mainstream culture and develop a momentum of their own.
Of the last two categories, your business probably falls more into number 2, market driven: you will survive ONLY if you can capture enough of a market share.
Your customers may additionally be hard to acquire because a very similar service, often with better material facilities, is available in the community in some form. So you have to offer something really special, something really tempting, in order to persuade wavering customers that you are worth the amounts of money you charge in comparison to what is available to them out there.
This means continuous and clever marketing on your part, always seeking new publics, always hunting out new contacts, and then absolutely servicing those people when they arrive so that they don’t waver and drift back to a competitor. It’s a constant battle.
If you fall into the trap of thinking of yourselves as part of the first group - product-driven - then you will fail to estimate the effort required and drop out of business.
To some extent, marketing gets a bad name from those guys in group 3, who are constantly banging on about goods and services which are often dubious and without substance. Your marketing has to be REALLY clever and fantastically wise to bypass the human emotion and reactions which might arise in your potential customers.
That’s one really good reason why you have to know exactly what makes you different, what makes you ‘sell-able’, what makes you more worthwhile than the average, despite the things which you might visibly lack. And then you have to strike those points again and again and again until your potential customers see you and reach for you.
It’s so EASY to think that you have a public automatically, who will just keep on turning up because you provide something they need.
But you’re not.
You have a public which has to be fought for. They have to battled over EVERY DAY, in every way you can think of. You literally cannot afford to be complacent. You are (probably) a market driven business - your customers are NOT automatic. They don’t NEED you - they can easily go elsewhere. You have to create the desire, market the special qualities, service them beyond their expectations, look after them at every point of contact -or YOU WILL LOSE THEM.
That’s the game that you’re playing, like it or not, if you’re in business. Every single customer who walks through your doors or visits your website is a hard-fought acquisition who you could lose as easily as a mis-placed word. You probably have fierce competitors around you in your field.
So get sharp.
Recognise that yours is a market driven organisation and you have a part to play in acquiring and keeping sufficient share of the market. Luckily, you probably really do have something special to offer which makes it worth all the effort.