One definition of marketing is to identify an unmet or under-served need and satisfy or serve it. But what if the need is "affordable housing," and recent price increases have added $36,000 to the cost of building a home — just in terms of the lumber involved? What if the need is a cheap lunch, and demand has driven up the price of a chicken sandwich? What if the need is more employees, and we're in the midst of a widely publicized labor shortage?
These days, it can be a challenge to identify unmet needs and then find the product or service that helps serve them. For some companies, the process has become inverted: They have a limited inventory of product or staff and must now search for the specific consumers who will buy based on those finite offerings. The equilibrium of supply and demand is out of balance, and companies are left to create a demand for whatever available supply there might be through their advertising.
Are You Meeting Changing Business Needs?
The late Clayton Christensen used to consider products and services not by their attributes or features, but by "the job to be done" through owning or using them. It's possible to still operate by that standard, and we must.
Consider the following:
- Supply chain disruptions may have altered your current product or service line, and that can impact who your ideal customers might be. You need to adjust to these changing circumstances. A marketing review is a good way to start that process.
- Changes to the employment landscape — during the pandemic, and now that we're emerging in many ways — could very well have changed who you think of as "the ideal customer" for your products and services. That means the messaging that worked in 2019 or 2020 may not be as relevant or effective in 2021. It's important to make sure your messaging still resonates with the right people.
- Have you seen disruptions to your supply chain, and are current conditions driving up your costs? What impact is this having on your margins? Is it making some product lines more profitable than others?
- Based on your available staffing and inventory, how have things changed for your company?
- The pandemic changed business dynamics. Now as we emerge, the "who" you sell to and the "why people buy" may be different than in years past. What are consumers' priorities and preferences now, and how are they different from years past?
- Have previously important competitors been weakened or even gone away during the pandemic, and does that create an opportunity for you to grab market share?
- Are there new competitive threats that arose during the pandemic or the emerging post-pandemic era? And what are you doing to defend against those threats?
Reexamining your business as we emerge from the pandemic is critical. Ask yourself the above questions to ensure you're on the right track to continued success.