Sustainable Marketing

Sustainability is a concept that is back in fashion after decades of unsustainable excess. It is not a concept just for agriculture and energy, but for marketing strategy as well. Sustainable marketing is mindful marketing. It’s careful planning, watchful waiting, and strategic implementation. All companies, both big and small, have limited resources to put into marketing, so it’s important to focus on what is cost effective. It can be an act of courage to slow down, reflect on what is happening around you, and then evaluate what the next step should be. It’s bringing closure to the present before rushing into the future. There are a few ways to start the process.

A competitive analysis plots a market along matrices. The axes can vary, generally from low to high, reflecting attributes such as quality versus price for a perceived value analysis or compound growth rate versus number of product offerings. This benchmarking task plots the strengths and weaknesses of market, and highlights where companies are clumping together and where there are opportunities. Benchmarking involves determining which functions to benchmark; identifying key performance variables; and measuring performance.

Awareness of the forces that shape competition help a company stake out a profitable and less vulnerable position. These forces, first written about by the economist Michael Porter, help managers focus beyond today’s direct competitors. The rivalry among existing competitors is just the beginning. The other forces to consider are the threat of entry, the power of suppliers, the power of buyers, and the threat of substitutes.

Understanding the forces that shape competition is a starting point for developing strategy. Identify the participants – who are the buyers, the suppliers, the competitors, the substitutes and the potential entrants? If you map these out, you may reveal an overlooked positioning opportunity or build a defense against a competitive force about to rear its ugly head.

Markets are moving targets. A company should regularly monitor the competitive environment. Perhaps you spent some time in the last year or two thinking about these issues. It’s important to revisit and see if your assumptions are still true. It may be difficult to take a deeper look while you’re busy “pleasing the Street” with financial projections and trend extrapolations. But sometimes it is the rational approach. Use these analyses to start your integrated marketing plan.

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