The discussions In this paper are as a result of discussions with he managers, employees and customers of these Seems. Marketing, Management, Nigeria, SEEM, Dammar, Strategy CONTENTS INTRODUCTION As a small business owner, an individual or group of individuals are constantly faced with a number of challenging decisions to make regarding the growth of the enterprise. Such decisions span from how to improve the bottom line of the business to how the daily operational and uncertain environment issues facing the business can be tackled.
One aspect that successful small businesses do not toil with is Marketing. The decision to target a particular segment of the populace and ensure hat the segment understands the value proposition of a business is key to creating customer loyalty. Although some small businesses like Lukas Memorial Stores perform little marketing activities, other businesses like Scabbard have taken a conscious decision to invest immensely in their marketing efforts, which has yielded immense benefits for the business. Lukas Memorial Stores is a family owned enterprise with its sole operations in Dammar State.
Its line of supermarkets is spread in 2 locations across the state. Its operations started in 1999 with one store and 3 employees. Today, the small business employs 11 Individuals. As a small business, the enterprise tried to find innovative ways to market its enterprise to both locals of the state and visitors. From activities that are as simple as talking to customers about its location to painting its delivery van with its identity, the small business has managed to place itself at an edge beyond other supermarkets within the state. Costless Services is also a family owned enterprise.
With a current employment of 17, Costless Services has 3 subsidiary enterprises all of which are located in the Yolk- Jimmie area. Its major subsidiary is the Cravings Cafe coffee shop located at the Arts ND Sciences Complex at American University of Nigeria. In that single location, Costless Services employs 4 young individuals with varying but interrelated tasks which it also considers as a marketing initiative. Scabbard on other hand is a cleaning company with two locations in the Yolk-Jimmie area. The company is solely owned by an individual and currently has 46 employees.
Scabbard operates in carefully selected locations within the state which gives it the reputation it currently has and serves as a marketing activity. In order to understand and apply the relevant concepts of marketing to the racketing decisions at these Seems, certain questions will be posed that will be used to analyze the link between each concept and marketing decision or action that has been taken by the business enterprise. These marketing concepts have been used in both large and small businesses in every facet of the world.
Some businesses adapt these marketing concepts unconsciously, while some make it a priority because they understand how that translates to the success of their business. THE GENERAL NOTION OF MARKETING IN SEEMS WITHIN YOLK As an SEEM, a business finds it difficult to dedicate resources for its marketing efforts cause of its limited nature. However, the Seems that were analyzed for this paper were found to use low-cost marketing strategies and make innovative marketing decisions that added value to their small businesses directly or indirectly.
Their actions that relate to marketing were either conscious or unconscious and are usually not limited to the area where they operate even with their small structure because of important innovations such as the Internet. Some small businesses assume that marketing is simply advertising. If they don’t engage in any formal advertising initiative, they assume they don’t engage in marketing. Advertising however is a subset of marketing and there are numerous other aspects that are involved.
In some small businesses, the employees claim that the business is not involved in any marketing activity even when they are wearing a branded uniform of the enterprise. Therefore, sometimes there is a difference between what employees perceive as marketing and what the managers perceive as marketing. This differing opinion between managers and their employees is more pronounced in Seems because the managers would prefer the employees to focus on their Job while he/she focuses on marketing the brand along side other managerial activities.
The employees are stakeholders in the business and leaving them out of the marketing initiative will actually hamper the outreach of the business. The following is a representation of how they view marketing and its current practice. Mouth and referrals in particular. Some Seems that put up structures such as signposts that are supposed to serve as marketing tools pay less attention to them as they deteriorate because the managers are fully engaged in other areas of growing the business. Some small businesses even make the mistake of placing such signposts in locations that are not conspicuous.
Some small businesses in the Yolk- Jimmie area on the other hand have recognized the importance of the Internet and have taken the advantage it provides by reaching out to other individuals or businesses at minimal cost. It is important to note that there are Seems with the notion that marketing actually encompasses all the areas noted above and they try to implement all. Amongst the small businesses analyzed for this report, Scabbard stands out as the firm that has utilized more forms of marketing than others. The enterprise has customized calendars, cups and other printed items that are distributed to its customers.
It has a website with links to its Faceable and twitter pages. It also has a signpost in front of its two locations in Yolk/Jimmie while ensuring that its vehicles carry the Scabbard name and logo. Small businesses that have considered themselves successful compared to their peers ensure that their customers leave with an impression that they are greatly appreciated. This creates a sense of loyalty and keeps the customers coming back. There are instances where managers of such small businesses give their contact details to their customers who are allowed to contact the manager at any time with any need that they may have.
The manager in turn ensures that the business is able to satisfy such need whether he is around or not. This cordial relationship that is created between the manager of the business and individual customers is key to promoting the business and in turn creating value for the customer. MARKET SEGMENTATION Identifying a segment of the market to focus on is key to ensuring that the value proposition of a business gets across to the intended recipients. Targeting a particular segment as an SEEM helps the business to not Just maintain loyal customers but also helps them focus more on their advantage as a small business.
Just as there are various ways of marketing, there are also numerous ways of identifying a market segment. The aim of which is ultimately to create value for the selecting a market to serve and how to decide on a value proposition. Select Customers to Serve Source: Kettle and Armstrong (2012) Decide on a Value Proposition By segmentation, an SEEM tries to divide a large market into smaller segments that can be effectively managed. This process involves deep analysis into the relevant segmentation variables. Some variables that are commonly used to segment a market include geographic, demographic, cryptographic, and behavioral variables.
Regardless of the size of an enterprise, segmentation allows it to focus more on the group of consumers that value its offering and can in turn play a role in the success or growth of the business. Most Seems try to market their brand directly to the general populace. Some Seems have a target market even without clearly identifying it. Scabbard for instance is a cleaning company that doesn’t Just engage in business with any customer they come in contact with. The business however targets high-end or high-class businesses with repute that can also increase its reputation.
Some of its customers include American University of Nigeria, Federal Medical Center, and Guaranty Trust Bank. Scabbard ensures that its customers have to first of all meet a certain criteria, which includes the relative size of the customers’ business and its existing reputation. Costless Services on the other hand targets the youth, especially American University of Nigeria students. The business provides outlets where youths can go to eat, hang out and Just relax. Because of the nature of its customers, Costless Services employs young individuals so that they can also relate well with its customers.
This has played very crucial role in the success of the business. Businesses like Lukas Memorial Stores target a larger population because of the nature of their business. As a supermarket, the business idea is to try and meet the needs of the neighborhood where the business is located regardless of the age group or taste. For a small supermarket, it might actually be detrimental to try and being sold. When the business grows however, it can then begin to segregate its customers so that it can meet their needs more effectively Just as Walter Stores has done some neighborhoods the US. THE MARKETING ENVIRONMENT
The business environment plays one of the most important roles in marketing. There is no doubt that it influences the value that a marketing effort adds to a company. A small business has to be able to balance the environmental influences with the internal operations or goals of the firm. Some external players that influence a firms marketing activity include its suppliers, competitors, Marketing intermediaries, Competitors and the public. The diagram below illustrates that although there is a direct link between a company and its customers through its marketing activity, other layers in the micromanagement also influence the activity.
Although there is a larger environment that can be illustrated using the framework known as PESTLE, most Game’s are more affected by the activities in the micromanagement. As a result of their small nature, they tend to respond more quickly to changes in the smaller/immediate environment. In the Yolk-Jimmie environment, the small businesses experience less fluctuation in the macro environment because of the stable nature of government and its policies. However, participants in the smaller environment play an important role in the marketing efforts of the small businesses.
In the case of supermarkets for instance, most of their supplies come from outside the Yolk-Jimmie area which implies that a high degree of logistics needs to be involved to ensure on-time delivery of items needed in the stores. It will be counterproductive for a supermarket like Lukas Memorial Stores to market to its customers a new product that they can buy from its supermarket when the product is yet to be delivered by the supplier. The suppliers therefore play an important role in making the needed products available at the right affect marketing. Marketing managers must therefore watch supply availability and sots.
Supply shortages or delays, labor strikes, and other events can cost sales in the short run and damage customer satisfaction in the long run. Marketing intermediaries help a firm to promote, sell and distribute its goods to final buyers. Small businesses engage very little with intermediaries because their market is usually small. Just like the suppliers, the intermediaries make up an important component in a firm’s overall value delivery network. In terms of competition, marketing managers must try and position their offering strongly against competitors’ offerings in the minds of consumers.
A firm like BAG Communications also located in Dammar has intermediaries in other locations within and outside the state that work with the company to distribute its services to customers. The actions of the intermediaries are translated as actions of BAG Communications by its customers therefore the company closely monitors the activities of the intermediaries. The firm makes sure that its brand image is not distorted by the intermediaries by providing them with the same information and the same marketing materials that will make every delivery uniform with what is attainable in other locations.
This forms a very important aspect of marketing performed by BAG Communications. Each SEEM has a competitor that is closely monitored to see how its activities influence what the SEEM can or cannot do. Especially in marketing, businesses must endeavor to gain strategic advantage by positioning their product/service offerings strongly against the offerings of the competitor in the minds of the customer. Even if the firm offers same products/services as the competition, it will get more customers if they are able to relate more with its offerings. As regards competition, a firm like Costless
Services has placed itself at an advantage compared with its competitors such as Whammies Bites also located within the ANN. campus in Yolk. They both service the same market segment with similar product offerings but Costless Services offers discounts to students especially towards the end of the academic session. This trend has come to stay in the minds of the customers such that even if it’s not the period for discounts, they’ll always prefer Costless Services to Whammies Bites. PRODUCT STRATEGIES In building a product strategy, the value that the customer places on the firm is the ultimate goal.
Firms ask questions such as “what is the customer really buying? ” when developing a product strategy. Scabbard as a cleaning company has the motto “More than Just cleaning” which came as a result of the strategy it uses to place itself ahead of its competitors as a company that offers more than what its competitors are offering. Businesses that outsource their cleaning services to Scabbard know that what they are getting isn’t Just a clean office or environment. They are actually getting more in terms of the level of quality, the after service and a well packaged company hat they can relate with.
No business will want to outsource its cleaning service to a cleaning company that isn’t clean in the first place. The diagram below shows the three levels of product that firms need to keep in mind when developing a product When customers remain loyal to a firm, they usually do so because they get more than the product or service being offered by the firm. Good customer service, product quality, brand and other variables play a key role in increasing their switching cost from one firm to another so they tend to remain with the one with the most value.
For a company like Scabbard to maintain its loyal customers, the manager himself pays personal visits to its clients to talk to them and get their feedback. He personally ensures their feedbacks are implemented regardless of the cost because he understands the value of maintaining a customer. The augmented product created around the core benefit and actual product adds another layer of service that is valued by the customers. Scabbard offers its customers several ways through which they can contact the company. It maintains Faceable and twitter pages where it uses to collect customer feedbacks for further review by the manager.
The firm also has a review section on its website where customers can go through the reviews of other customers to understand how they feel about the service that was rendered to them by the same company. All these extra services that the company offers its customers are geared towards increasing the value they place on the company and its products or services. Small businesses with a clear value proposition have an added advantage because of their size and their target market. Because of their flexible nature, they have the ability to alter their market offering in the short run to meet the changing demands f their customers.
Their small size also allows them to provide more effective after- sales service or product support which will ultimately improve customer retention and loyalty. A business like Cravings Cafe which is owned by Costless Services is a clear example. They use their size to their advantage. The items sold at the coffee shop are limited and are aimed at satisfying a specific group of customers. The additional services provided such as the packaging of products and their design or delivery are intended to be of high quality so that they can appeal to their target customers and keep them coming back.
A similar business at the end of the spectrum is Whammies Bites. Although Whammies Bites considers itself a competitor of Cravings Cafe, they pay less attention to the augmented product that is supposed to add value to the customer. The items sold at the shop aren’t well packaged and are easily obtainable at other smaller shops in the neighborhood, the employees don’t wear any uniform to identify them with the business and little attention is placed on the neatness of the area where the business is located. As a result, they get less customers than cravings cafe.
MARKETING COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES After all the product strategy, segmentation and environmental analysis are complete, effective communication of a business offering to its target customers glues all the hard work with the final consumer who will be the determinant of whether a business strategy is successful or not. In order to ensure the success of customer with concrete actions. The customer on the other hand also needs to understand or appreciate the value that is received from using the product or service. Implementing a strategy is more important and more difficult than coming up with it.
Even after a strategy is built, it must be maintained and sustained by the business in order to maintain consistent performance and communication. The strategy also needs to change over time in order to match the changing needs of the consumer and tactics used by the competition. According to David K. Smith (2001) and for the purpose of simplification, it can be assumed that two key elements of processing information are (1) perception (how information is selected, processed and stored in memory) and (2) retrieval (locating, and using information that the individual already possesses).
These two processes enable marketers to understand how to effectively place their proposition in the minds of the customer. The following are some of their implications: 1 . Because customers are exposed to thousands of stimuli daily, marketers need a deep understanding of their target audiences in order to maximize the probability that these individuals will choose to process communications directed to them by the marketer. 2. The communications marketers direct toward their customers must be such that customers and prospects can transform easily and reliably into concepts and categories which already exist in their minds.
Information that is inconsistent tit existing beliefs or which doesn’t fit in an existing category is less likely to be processed. 3. Successful communication with customers will require ongoing exchanges of information between customers and marketers, to ensure that the probability of steps 1 and 2 above taking place is maximized. 4. Because engaging customers in a series of ongoing interactions should increase the probability that marketers will develop a deep understanding of their customers, relationship marketing is very likely to be useful.
Source: David K. Smith (2001) Small and Medium Enterprises that find themselves in a location like Dammar State SE a number of approaches to communicate their offerings to the general populace or directly to their target market. Because their target market is usually small, they are able to build powerful and sustainable competitive advantages by simply maintaining an effective communication strategy between the firm and the customers.
Most small businesses in Dammar use radio Jingles because of the popularity of radios among citizens of the state and because of the environment they find themselves where there is less power supply for people to watch television. Another effective tool used by Seems is the use of brand networks. When an SEEM is able to identify itself with a reputable brand category, there is high tendency that it will get more customers. Another tool they use in communicating their strategy to their customers is through their contacts.
Maintaining a customer database is not an ability that is far-fetched and businesses have realized the need to harness the capabilities provided by technology to be able to manage a customer record that is flexible enough to allow them communicate with the customer anyhow and anytime. Communication as a priority use more than one means to reach out to their already- existing and potential customers. This ensures that their value proposition always keeps ringing in the minds of the customers. PRICING STRATEGIES The price of a product or service is determined by the value that the product/service offers its consumers.
It can also be considered as the opportunity cost of acquiring the product/service. A number of pricing strategies can be used by Seems or other larger businesses to increase their market share. Some of these strategies include: 1 . Analyze the competitors’ price 2. Formulate a pricing policy 3. Discount for different types of customers or clients 4. Condition and terms of sales Source: Assuage, Lecture Notes: 2013 In Dammar State, Small and Medium Enterprises have a less formal means of arriving at a final price for their products or services in the first place.
Most businesses use a cost-plus-markup approach to arrive at a price while some use the price that is already offered by the market. In the selected Seems used for this write- up, Lukas Memorial Stores uses both approaches for its pricing strategy. For products that are readily available in other supermarkets within the state, the store uses the market price to set its own product price. However, for items that are found solely at Lukas Memorial Stores or are difficult to find anywhere else, the store uses a cost-plus- markup approach.
They currently do not have a specific percentage that is used to determine the percentage of markup but this is determined on a product-by-product basis by the manager. As a supermarket, they do not offer promotions but they sometimes offer specific discounts to specific customers that purchase plenty items with a huge value at the same time. On the other hand, Seems like Costless Services and Scabbard Cleaning Services use he cost-plus-markup approach to arrive at their prices.
As a result of the additional activity involved in adding more value to the product/service they offer before delivering it to the customer, they tend to incur more cost than their competitors. It will therefore be unwise to match their price to the market price. However, they are able to Justify the high price by the quality of services they offer which consumers are still willing to pay for. Scabbard Cleaning Services works hand in hand with its clients to enter a contractual agreement on how much the value of the service offered by Scabbard is to the customer.