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5 small-business myths debunked

Having a good product is not enough
By Entrepreneur Staff |

There are several common misconceptions about marketing in the minds of small business owners. Among them are:

Marketing is simply having a good product, after which sales will just follow. The reality, however, is that the product is only one of the key aspects of marketing—just one of the four elements of the original marketing mix. The three others are, of course, price, promotions, and place/distribution. Having a good product is essential to successful marketing, but it doesn’t automatically guarantee demand and sales. For this to happen, the other elements of the marketing mix should be there and they should be responsive to the needs of the target market or the product’s potential users. This is because people have different motivations for using a product or service—motivations that need to be adequately addressed by the product and communicated to the potential market.

Having a good packaging and label is sufficient. It’s true that good packaging and an informative label provide a product with a competitive edge especially on the store shelves, but this assumes that the potential buyer gets to notice the product and actually takes it off the shelf. But picture a scenario where the buyer is pressed for time: he or she simply heads off to a familiar brand in the same retail area without even glancing at other competitive brands or products. This is often the case because consumers seldom have leisure time these days, thus making them stick to tried and tested products even if better ones have become available.

Marketing is expensive. Entrepreneurs often associate marketing with the traditional ways of advertising in the broadcast and print media, which admittedly are expensive. Depending on the target market, however, there are several other ways of reaching potential markets and of making them aware that a certain product exists and where it is available. The boxes below lists down the various ways of communicating with target markets. Without going into great expense, business owners can concentrate on the particular communication vehicles that can effectively reach their specific target markets.

Word of mouth is the best way of creating product awareness. Word of mouth advertising may be a great complement to the other forms of marketing communications, but it has its limitations. It’s a slow-burn process that occurs only among peers, communities, groups, families, and friends who are directly or indirectly connected with one another. If the network is small to begin with, it will take long years to make people outside of the connection aware of the product. That is why despite the efficacy of certain products and services, it took them decades—40 to 50 years or more, to reach a critical mass of awareness among their potential users and yet their full potential has still to be optimized. Some examples include service institutions like Manila Doctors Hospital and Capitol Medical Center and products like Sebo de Macho, Chocnut and Glutaphos brain vitamin. It will therefore be worth the while of business owners to invest in other forms of marketing communications in addition to word of mouth.

Marketing is nothing but the creative materials and executions for communicating the product—design, label, advertising, poster, and so on. Here lies the greatest myth of all. One must realize that marketing is both a mindset and a strategic process that involves making a promise to consumers about what the product is and what it can do and why they should prefer it over other existing brands. The creative materials don’t constitute marketing but are simply executions of what the business owner would like the product to stand for in the minds of the potential target market.

This article was originally published in the September 2007 issue of Entrepreneur Philippines.

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