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Designing an effective market penetration strategy

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Peter F. Drucker

We’ll take peep into some of  the ways that business owners, leaders or entrepreneurs could design effective market penetration strategies.  Whatever business we are into, we surely must have customers, at least potential customers.

Many business and sales book authors have consistently emphasized the value of identifying the core customer preferences as a primary tool in the process of generating effective demand for specific products or service. Zig Ziglar, the renowned salesman once said “one can get anything if he is willing to help enough others get what they want.

This implies greater likelihood of success for entrepreneurs who take conscious steps and make the effort required to understand what the customer needs are. On the surface, it appears quite a simple concept to understand and appreciate. Afterall, we only buy goods that appeal to us. Or that meet our needs.

Do we get the facts from questionnaires, interviews or databases? In a country of 140 million people, how does one carry out a definite survey with limited resources i.e. budget, manpower and time? Given the limitation of resources at any given time, how best does one approach the objective of identifying core customer needs?

There is also the added issue of knowing what we are competitively positioned to offer. While companies or individuals may have the ability to offer a range of services or products, there will be a narrow band where our abilities, talent, skills and experience will yield exceptional value. Given that the ease with which our products receive market acceptance is relatively proportional to how distinct they are in comparison to other competing products, our best chance then lies in first identifying our major strength area.

My suggestion will be to always start with identifying the core area of expertise. A field where you can be better than almost everyone! At least better than the available offerings in the market.  The next step will be to identify your customer. This is where the biggest challenge comes. Because advertising is so very difficult to calibrate in terms of effectiveness, you’ll be careful in your selection. From experience, the best advert strategies come to you when you are broke or lean on cash.

This difficulty forces you to explore several alternatives. Otherwise, it becomes easy to spend several millions on TV, newspaper and magazine adverts and still get poor results. Even when your cash flow is healthy, stimulate the challenge by providing lower than usual budget for advertizing and market research. The bottom line objective is to find a way to get your proposition in the face of potential customers. Hopefully, there’ll be something in the advert or presentation that will catch their attention, touch the need button and make them reach for your product or service.  A few tips here.

Your product or service MUST deliver on promise. Failure to deliver is far too costly to contemplate.
In your advert messages, interviews or questionnaires, ensure you include a phrase, word or sentence that captures the uniqueness of your product. It is risky though, to advertise on a live program where Nigeria is playing a tough football match. If we are winning and playing well, good for you. If we are playing badly, lost millions for you.

Contracting is not the best or only way to make profits. Rather than spend endless engagement hours, deal with emotional stress associated with making presentation after presentation, look for solutions that you can provide to the wider population. You may convert a part of the budget for bidding, presentations and settlement into complimentary or low cost services that demonstrate the value of your business. Referrals from satisfied customers will not hurt your business at all. Satisfied customers will know others who have need for similar goods or service.

Accept that not everyone will love your service or products. Then research to find attributes and habits of people who you’ll appeal to. Design a focused plan to reach them. It may be through your club, religious group, social network or business associates.

Following mass media advert will be an expected public response. Be sure you have a team ready to provide value answers and manage the early engagements properly.

Invest in continuous research and development. What served you well yesterday may be useless today. If you penetrate the market with a unique proposition, you can be sure that it will be copied sooner or later. The only way to stay ahead is to continually research the market to formulate new strategies to keep you ahead of the competition.

Identify ways to get people to test or use your services inexpensively. But not for FREE in Nigeria, because free offerings are abused here. People who offer things for free are perceived as desperate or have a hidden agenda. The developed world, US and Europe for example, use free offerings as a standard market testing and penetration strategy. We are not there yet.

Maintain a customer database. This is very useful when studying trends and planning for growth.
Avoid simple generalizations.

Test ideas and suggestions from friends, relatives and consultants before taking the full plunge. What obtains in your neighbourhood may not be applicable in another. Starting small or gradual testing allows you to develop realistic calibration of customer preferences. This enhances timely and cost-effective alignment of your customer outreach strategy for better business results. Treat market penetration as a project.

The project management processes will enhance results better that operations management. The Research and Development effort can remain in Operations.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.