Q and A Archives

Peruse a rich archive of questions and answers that ran from 1999 to 2017
2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999


December Intimidation and negotiation by customers is endemic in today’s business-to-business selling situations. What is likely to cause a decrease in such activities?
A: There is an inverse relationship between this aggressive behavior and the customer’s assessment of the supplier’s financial staying power, negotiation expertise, desirable technologies and quality of their value propositions.
November In marketing we often talk about the “Brand Promise”. What is it?
A: Simply stated it is what the customer gets from your brand. The promise distills the broad ideas of your brand platform without losing meaning. The promise drives your value proposition and provides differentiation that can last. The brand promise is sometimes also referred to as the brand essence.

The promise is used in many facets of marketing of the company and its products such as the logo, sales tools, and advertising.

October What do we mean by “Customer Based Marketing”?
A: “Customer Based Marketing” is focused on your customer base, which is considered your target market. This base is generally made up of repeat customers with a high ratio of purchases over time and becomes the main source of your revenue.

With Customer Based Marketing your objective is to continually expand loyalty from this customer base. It requires doing extensive and continual research into the customer base needs, beliefs, and attitudes. Your marketing is then focused upon addressing those research results.

September What type of forecasting, done right, provides you with the highest accuracy?
A: The "consensus or team forecast," meaning one where sales and marketing come to a consensus about what is really going to happen, as opposed to a top down edict as to what is going to be booked. If sales and marketing have done their homework you have the proper elements for good factory demand forecasting. Marketing has responsibility for knowing the factors that affect the market, knowledge about new products, and some knowledge about competition. Sales knows what is going on in terms of what the customers and competition are doing. Combined they have the ingredients for forecast accuracy.
August What is "concentrated market segmentation"?
A: This is a strategy where you have segmented the market, but decided to serve only one of several potential segments. If you produce electronic components, you may have decided to go after the broad market of small consumers and therefore sell primarily through electronic distribution. If you produce uniquely small and less expensive semiconductor tools that can be placed in multiple places throughout a fab in place of one large tool, customers with existing fabs that are expanding may be your market segment.

With this segmentation strategy, you ignore opportunities in other identified segments of the broader market. A concentrated segmentation strategy is less expensive than a differentiated segmentation strategy and may be the best choice where company resources are limited.

July What is the biggest threat today to the profit margin of your company’s products or services?
A: It isn’t a differentiated value proposition in that you are not likely to have a sale if that isn’t present. The biggest threat is an aggressive supply chain management program being applied by your customer. Such a program is an evolution of PICOS, the ancestor that grew into today’s programs.

If you encounter such a program with your customer it will be aimed at turning your product – no matter how technical, unique or expensive – into a commodity so that the only thing you have to negotiate is price and that will be controlled by the customer. Hence, a severely reduced profit margin!

There are ways of overcoming such a dilemma. Look for the relevant article on this site at article and the course “Combating Aggressive Supply Chain Management” on the home page.

June In reference of technical sales, what is a “White Paper”?
A: It is a document, written by an expert, which describes a process, concept, materials, or equipment for those that are less expert. It may be written by the Guru in a company about that company’s products. However, one of the best approaches for sales is to get a respected engineer in a customer’s organization to write about your product’s relationship to an important process. It can then be used to sell your product on a broader scale to that customer.
May When someone says you need to “Differentiate” your product what do they mean and why is it important?
A: Differentiation means that your product and/or service has a provable difference, when compared to the competition, in the value it offers to the customer. And the customer sees this value as important to him or her. If there is not a defined differentiation then your product or service is a commodity, regardless of how complex or expensive it is. If it is a commodity, then the only thing you have to offer is a lower price . . . and consequently a lower profit margin.
April How would you define marketing?
A: Marketing is an integrated process through which companies create value for customers, build strong customer relationships, and capture value from customers in return.

On a strategic level it consists of a Strategic Marketing Plan which is translated into a Segmentation Strategy, Positioning Strategy, and the Branding Platform.

On a more tactical level it is called Product Marketing and consists of what is commonly known as the 4 P’s, the Product Definition, the Promotion Plan, the Product Distribution Plan, and the Pricing Plan.

March What is market segmentation?
A: Segmentation is a process of dividing markets where each segment contains potential customers with similar needs and/or characteristics, and are likely to exhibit similar purchasing behavior. It means, first and foremost, knowing your customers, giving them exactly what they want or may want and communicating via highly targeted promotional media.
February Product marketing managers have to be aware of the broader market and customer requirements, but also have another key contact responsibility. What is it?
A: As product marketing manager you are responsible for making sure senior management knows and “understands” the market issues. You have to communicate to them about opportunities, customer requirements and fulfillment of responsibilities that will allow your company to maintain or increase market share within the chosen markets. Because of your view, you may in fact be acting as the conscience of the company. Armed with this information, the choice among markets is then a joint decision to be made by product marketing and the management of the company.
January A mistake that many foreigners make is to treat all Asians alike. Each Asian culture has its unique characteristics and its own national pride, but there are some similarities. What are they?
A: Confucianism has the paramount influence across the cultures and the primary precepts of Confucianism are as follows: absolute loyalty to a hierarchical structure of authority, duty to the parents, strict order, a defined form of conduct, separation of the husband and wife, and trust between friends. You could also say it has a focus of “us” rather than “me”.