Proactive Versus Reactive Marketing

by Robert McCourty

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This article from The Mender (Issue 37),
Metamend's Web Site Optimization and Marketing Newsletter.


In this corner weighing in at a measly 22 pounds, wearing the black and blue trunks, the underdog, Proactive Marketing.

In the other corner weighing in at 357 pounds, wearing the neon flashing, fluorescent green trunks, your hometown hero, Reactive Marketing! Let's get ready to rumble!

Sounds like a one sided fight doesn't it? The outcome assured. Let's have a closer look.

Reactive marketing is the most widely used approach in this day and age, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the best way to do things. It's easy for any company to be reactive. This in essence is why it's so popular. It's the lazy way. All you have to do is wait until someone else does all the work and then simply undercut their price or change their design slightly, and call it your own. My favorite example of this is a famous fishing lure called the "Five of Diamonds." A big yellow spoon lure with of course, five red diamonds in a pattern on the back. It was a best seller for years until someone from the Asian marketplace offered an "extremely" close replica with six diamonds on it at half the price. This was reactive marketing and it's worked for years. It will continue to work as long as the consumer thinks he's getting a bargain. On a side note, the fake 'five of diamonds' rusted out in my tackle box after only a few uses. I threw it out years ago. I still have the 'real' one and it still catches fish. Lesson learned.

Reactive marketing generally occurs when a company notices their competition doing something they are not. i.e. They are having a sale, we should have one too! The natural reaction is to leap before you look. You react out of fear. We don't want them to get all the business, so we have no choice other than to compete with them. Although a natural reaction... This is entirely the wrong approach. You'd be much better off to analyze your own marketing practices and budget rather than trying to "keep up with the Jones'." Some of those Jones's may have pretty deep pockets. Trying to match them dollar for dollar may not be a prudent decision.

Proactive marketing on the other hand is a lot more work, but the return on investment can be much higher. It utilizes a different way of thinking to analyze each aspect of a marketing campaign. You need to be original and creative. You need to think outside of the box. For example, answer the following question:

How effective is your company at rapidly identifying and resolving sales opportunities?

Read the question again.

When a sales opportunity presents itself, such as a phone call or a customer asking a question via your web site, or someone walking through your front door, how fast can your company respond?

Do you know the answer? Is it in minutes, hours or days? Can it be improved upon? How about all the way through an entire sales cycle. From first inquiry to final sale to follow up. How long does that take?

Answering these types of crucial questions honestly, then subsequently analyzing ways to improve upon their results, will start you thinking like a Proactive marketer. By streamlining some of your sales processes you also gain better customer service and customer retention levels. Keeping all your customers loyal and happy is, in the long run, much better than spending wads of cash on a two day sales flyer with disappointing results.

Here are a couple of more Proactive marketing exercises for you.

Analyze the way you present your products and find ways to increase their value proposition.

It could be as simple as rewording a few phrases or as complex as redesigning the entire packaging, but your value proposition is your first, (some say only) best chance to make an impression on a new customer.

The presentation of the "Value" for the consumer must clearly be first and foremost in your messages and visible media. What's in it for them? Have you actually shown them the true value or are you assuming they will figure it out. Big mistake. People don't like to "figure things out." They like to be able to understand immediately.

This may be your first step.

You may need more information about your customers and sales transactions before beginning to analyze your efforts. Realign your data collection methods to give you the information you need to make effective decisions. If you suddenly found out almost 85 percent of your customers were women between the ages of 21 and 25 would that affect your future marketing decisions and where you spent your advertising dollars? You bet it would.

Let's assume you do have enough information. Now what? Try breaking down the sales process into various tasks. Who is responsible for initial contact? Who (or what) educates the potential customer about your products? Who closes the sale? Is this a seamless process. Is it easy to do? Who follows up to ensure the customer is satisfied? All important aspects of the process to identify. Try to reduce your administration effort for the above tasks. Once again, anything you can do to streamline the process, the more time you save and the more efficient and productive your company becomes. You'll also save money instead of wasting it.

If the analyzation process is beginning to sound confusing to you, seek some assistance to achieve these goals. There are many business clubs and resources in your neighborhood that are willing to help. Try your local Chamber of Commerce. Many firms specialize in the development of branding for products and/or developing marketing strategies. Find one that suits your needs and your budget and ask for a free consultation. No person is an Island. You can't do it all by yourself. Ask for help when you need it. Bringing in outside assistance can also produce a fresh perspective, which is something -every- company needs from time-to-time.

By becoming a Proactive marketer your investment is your time spent on analysis and implementation of your ideas. Much better than throwing good money away trying to keep up with those Jones's. Follow the Credo of the proactive marketer. "Act. Don't React!"

Other articles from this issue:
- Keyword Ownership: What It Is and Where It's Headed?

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