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It's a simple idea

Last updated: 2.21pm, Friday 18th October 2019 by

My old Dad once said to me, “Marketing is simple – you just have to find out what people want and then offer it to them.” But how many SMEs are offering what they want to sell rather than what the customer wants?

In so many businesses, if you shout “Marketing!!” everyone looks outwards. It’s natural, right? But marketing is as much about looking inside the business and inside your existing customers’ heads, as it is about reaching out. There is little point to creating a snappy line, eye-catching creative, spending hours on social media, building a stunning website or even investing in AdWords and SEO, if what you want to sell is not quite what the punters want to buy.

The good news is, with a little tweak and some careful strategic thinking, what you want to sell can become what they want to buy.

HP have worked it out – people don’t want to buy printer ink, they just want to be able to print things. So HP now sells their customers printed pages instead of ink - you pay for the pages you print out and they send you the ink for free automatically before you run out. It’s a real win-win and it’s the result of strategic marketing thinking. They are still moving a lot of ink (which is what they want) and their customers are buying exactly what they want.

Another example closer to home, is a Scottish SME I worked with. They manufactured large graphics, wall murals and lots of self-adhesive products for the retail industry. They thought they were in the graphics or ‘big sticker’ or specialised surfaces markets. But after surveying their customers and applying some serious strategic thinking, we came to the realisation that they weren’t just a manufacturer and installer of self-adhesive materials, but a ‘changer of shops’. Their products enabled a shop to be transformed overnight into a bright new and well branded environment – they were in the Brand Implementation business. The ‘magic’ of this realisation was in the understanding that theirs was now a service business. This shift in thinking led them to successfully take Brand Realization to the market as their offering, which set them apart from all the other graphics companies in the UK.

It is critical that SMEs look at existing customers to find out what they really want and how satisfied they are with what you are doing now. Then, armed with this information you can look at your business to make sure your pricing is right, your service is right and that your offering to the market is right. Once you have what they want, you can go to the market and offer it to them.

Fortunately now there is a simple and affordable way to access this kind of clear strategic thinking. Marketshare is a shared marketing department for SMEs which is cost-effective because it is a powerful resource shared by non-competing businesses. Find out how easily you can get Marketshare working with you - just email

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