logistics

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STRTAERGIES FOR LOGISTICS Why should your customers do business with you? Why should they want to do business with you? What makes you special? How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors? How do you position yourself to be a desired supplier? These are the types of questions businesses must address as they work to grow. 4P's of Marketing One of the 4P's, the marketing mix, of marketing management is the base for developing a dynamic competitive strategy.  Product. This is very much required. Today's customers want choices, features, options. The days of Henry Ford and a black model A are long gone. These choices create additional challenges with being able to forecast demands for the various products and options/features. Then once your product is established, then you have to look at additional incentives for your customers to want to buy from you.  Promotion. You have to have a way for others to learn of your products, create awareness. Advertising is one way. Advertising can be expensive and can be difficult to measure the direct impact and benefit of this. And customers are often overburdened with sales promotions that yours may be lost in all the promotional morass. What exactly do you promote and why?  Price. This is to establish a value for your product, and for doing business with you. Price is the way to create revenues and profits. The danger with price is that if it is emphasized too much, you reduce your product to being a commodity, where price is the only way to distinguish your product from your competitors.  Place. This is logistics. Having your goods in the right place at the right time. And this is the area that has been underutilized in the marketing mix. Logistics effectiveness can be a way to become a desired supplier, build market recognition, handle the multiple products and options, create value-added, and set you apart from your competitors. Reason for Strategy Make competitive advantage through logistics excellence your strategy. Exploit logistics service and performance to set you apart from your competitors. It is a unique approach. Make it a core competency. Incorporate logistics as a critical element of your marketing and business strategy to grow your sales. Effective logistics can significantly contribute to positioning yourself as a Preferred Supplier. Product, promotion and price have been used for years by companies to develop recognition. Now it's time to exploit and incorporate Place, i.e., Logistics, as the base for a marketing and business strategy to grow the business and to gain market share. Customers would perceive that you provide a competitively superior value and service. That is a strong foundation for growth. Logistics presents a way to market yourself to customers. There is only so much that can be done with promotion and price. A value-added logistics strategy is a strong way to be a preferred supplier because your customers are saying you are worth doing business with it. They say, "We want to do business with you." You will grow, maybe even into portions of the market you had not reached before. Looking at it another way, you may have a great product, sound promotion efforts and a good price. But if you are difficult in doing business with, in fulfilling orders and timely and completely meeting customer requirements, you may not achieve maximum growth. You could even lose sales and market share with a poor logistics service. A marketing strategy based on logistics, and the customer benefits and service it brings, works whether your customers are domestic or international. You can be a market leader, not a follower. Be aggressive; be an innovator, not a reactor. When you are only reacting, instead of innovating, you have put yourself in the catchup mode. As such, you may never quite sure of what you should be doing and why.

With this strategy, you position yourself as a valued supplier. Price issues, while always important, can be balanced with the service you provide. This can create opportunities for enhanced price opportunities. And if you are a preferred supplier, your customers recognize that. They promote you and what you bring to the table. With this strategy, you demonstrate to customers how important they are and how much you value them. Approach To develop the strategy, three assessments must be made--your customers and their requirements, your competitors and they perform, and your own performance. If you are in different markets with your products, then assess each market. They may be significant market and customer differences that must be recognized and understood. How do you compare? What are the opportunities to be a leader? How do you exploit the opportunities? Which customers can you work with to develop your strategy? With this assessment, you can better analyze and see what must be done to be a leader in logistics. At the minimum, you will have a better understanding of how competitive you are at servicing your customers. Part of this analysis should be a survey. Do not assume you know and understand what your customers want and need. That is a surefire recipe for a failed strategy. With learning what they want, also learn why they want it done that way. That presents a solid method to develop a strategy that can meet and exceed their requirements. It is directly aligned to them. Make sure that, once you have concluded the assessments, you go back to discuss your findings and plans with key customers. The object here is meet their needs; not what you think are their needs. Review your strategy and action plan with them. Get their feedback. Is your plan excellent? Will it gain you additional business?  Assess your customers requirements. Study any and all written specifications that customers have already given you. Survey your customers. Meet with select customers. What do they expect and want from their suppliers? How do they want their orders, shipments and invoices handled? Why do they want it done that way? How well do you perform, in their eyes and their measurements? Does the service your competitors provide gain them business, at your expense? Does their performance impact key customers, a large number of customers, the potential for new customers? Are customers strongly satisfied with your performance? If so, why? If not, why not? Where are you strong and why? Where are you deficient and why? Are you consistently failing to meet customer needs? How serious are your failures, as perceived and defined by customers?  Assess your competitors. You have to understand what you are up against in servicing customers. What do our competitors do? Gather market intelligence. Make your competitors performance part of your survey. How do your customers view your competitors? How do their logistics performances meet the needs of customers? How do their logistics performances compare with yours? Are there shortcomings in how well they service customers? If so, what are they? Are these shortcomings serious? Are there strengths in how well they service customers? Is so, what are they? Are these strengths ones which permit customers to overlook other problems with these competitors?  Assess your internal capabilities. Self-assessment can be very difficult and awkward. Understand what makes a world-class logistics program. Look at the elements needed. Develop an audit checklist then evaluate your operation. Assess and measure your product flows and information flows across the entire organization. Look at teamwork, systems, costs, relationships with suppliers, carriers, customers and others.

The purpose is not negative; the purpose is to know how well you perform, throughout and across the organization. It will also help you determine what investments are needed to upgrade and improve your service to customers. It may also be valid to search for best logistics practices, regardless of industry served. Do not overlook them. Leading-edge practices have basis and application in any industry. Benchmark your performance, capabilities and limitations. It can be very useful in understanding your operation and to developing a market leader strategy. A marketing strategy based on logistics effectiveness should have two parts. First you must have a solid logistics program, leading-edge. Then you must be able to tailor to meet the requirements of individual customers. You cannot offer a vanilla approach. It is not enough to do logistics well. You must do what each of your customer's demands. Standardized approaches to individual requirements is not satisfactory to customers. It must be based on a sound approach, then customized, aligned and responsive to the specific needs of each customer. Through your success in meeting customer needs, you may opportunities to improve their logistics operation. This is a very good position for a supplier. In such instances, if you become truly good at your logistics performance, it is not inconceivable that customers may want you to manage some part of their logistics management. It would be like a category management of the customer's logistics. Perspective Recognize that organizations are built from the inside-out. They are designed to handle internal tasks and needs, purchasing, manufacturing, sales, accounting, logistics, and others. Some organization internal practices may work at cross-purposes or counter to the needs of its outside customers. As such, company departments may feel attacked by customer comments or internal analysis. They may rationalize what customers say are problems or shortcomings in dealing with you. You must get past these if you are to progress. Organizations are not built from the outside-in. They were not designed by and for customers and satisfying their needs. This origin then creates the opportunities to better service customers by realigning the intent and purpose of the organization, across functional lines. If this organization genesis is not recognized, then the potential of this strategy will not be exploited to its fullest. Remember too, organizations, especially in certain corporate cultures, resist change. Shifting the focus to the outside, your customers, from inside, internal task, can be a significant organization change. This must be dealt with in the design and implementation of a market-leader logistics service capability. Designing the strategy is not enough. You must be able to implement it, put it into action. Everyone in the organization must participate in and clearly understand the strategy and plans. Results are the goal here, not just strategy. Conclusion Position yourself as a preferred supplier. Use logistics as a cornerstone of your marketing strategy for growth. Understand what customers expect, how well your competitors perform and how well you operate. Find the ways to develop a strong logistics program which meets and exceeds customer requirements. Reengineering your operation and developing a strong logistics capability is not an overnight fix. It takes time and commitment. Do not delay and miss the opportunity to grow customer satisfaction, sales and market share. And once you have begun this strategy and process, it does not stop. Market and customer needs are constantly changing. Your ability to change, and lead the change, as a market leader is ongoing. You must constantly work to improve service, reduce time and reduce costs as your customers require.

STRATEGIES FOR EDUCATION Everything in the world today needs to be marketed well; even education, hence marketing strategies and distance learning go hand in hand. In order to create a lasting impact on the minds of the target audience, educational institutions offering distance learning programs need to be a cut above the rest. Education is a service and any service needs to be marketed well to be attractive to the consumer, who in this case is a student. How Technology has Affected Education It's a changing world, and technology has become the backbone of any distance education program. Marketing strategies and distance learning are symbiotic, since education is essentially a service and deals with human beings. Hence student enrollment and retention are very critical aspects for a college to consider. The internet is rife with dotcoms looking to make quick profits, which are posing a serious threat to the more serious academic institutions looking at providing quality educational experience to its students. Many universities have not only started offering online versions of their oncampus programs, but are also working on creating a virtual campus for its online students. Today the student is out shopping for courses and institutions; he or she is tech savvy and enrolling in a particular course is just a click away for him or her. Weapon of Choice - Modes of Marketing It is a cluttered world out there, and to be noticed, any educational institution will need to break through. A lot of colleges today are adopting different marketing strategies and distance learning has become an especially volatile market. Many colleges are using web based ads and promotions aggressively for marketing their courses; the internet being a relatively cheaper advertising medium, has taken over the other traditional mediums like print and TV. Pop-up ads, email and banners are, however, mainly mass marketing tools and are largely ineffective. What education needs right now is relationship marketing. Relationship marketing is essentially establishing, developing and maintaining successful long term relationships with students. Education being a service cannot adopt marketing strategies meant for a manufactured product. Marketing educational services is more about building trust and commitment, more about making students loyal alumnus. Marketing strategies and distance learning are correlated because they deal with the creation of a product that cannot be copied by anyone else, and with creating an atmosphere of nurture for students right from the enquiry stage. For the student, any educational institution is attractive if it has the right mix of pricing, academic experience, and credibility. If a college is able to provide services beyond these three parameters, it has earned the loyalties of any student enrolled with it.

SERVICE MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR FINANCIAL
As competition from the Internet and banks needles into the securities and investments industry, financial services firms must fine-tune marketing strategies to develop business and draw in clients. Direct marketing, like advertisements, fosters a key element: name recognition. To target customers, advertisements can be placed in a variety of trade publications, regional business newspapers or narrow in on a select group in niche newsletters. Aside from getting the firm's name in circulation, the advertisement promotes its value. "The ads (we run) let people know we are a 36-year-old firm and nationally ranked," says Duncan Williams, president of Duncan-Williams, Inc. "We're not some fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants company."

The advertisements can establish integrity quickly, but firms also need to cultivate trust and relate to customers who entrust the company with their money. The firms must demonstrate capability and credibility. Thus you can't sit behind a desk and let your ads do all the work. Involvement on different boards and organizations builds a base that exemplifies the firm's knowledge in the field, says Linda Bourassa, president of the marketing firm Blue Moon, Inc. Positions in the community or in a civic event that make a broker visible to an investor are very valuable, she says. And when brokers are a part of the community, they can network by informing people of their firm's specializations. Passing out cards to colleagues and friends will hopefully create branches that lead business back to the firm. "If I find someone with a need, I say, 'I have a friend who does financial planning' and hand out a card," says Will Plyler, vice president of Wunderlich Securities. Plyler also utilizes the Memphis chapter of Business Network International to reach new clients and build relationships in the city. The Memphis chapter meets one morning every week. Each attendee describes his or her job in 60 seconds, then gets time to forge contacts with other members. "If I meet a business owner who is interested in creating a retirement plan, he can give me the contact in the company that I need to talk to," Plyler says. But brokers must toe the line and not flaunt their business cards; people can spot an ambulance chaser, Bourassa says. Still, "networking is key," she says. Investment and security firms also tailor marketing for larger institutions, not just an individual's retirement fund. Publishing articles on topics in the industry further illustrates the competency of brokers and managers, Bourassa says. For greater accessibility, attendance at conventions for bankers, insurers and credit unions opens doors and provides the opportunity for potential clients to meet with members of the firm one-on-one. Financial advisory firms can also employ a marketing agency to research the best methods of promotion and formulate a plan of action. Blue Moon helps publicize the firm and its actions, but Bourassa also advises attending local functions and special events "to network, get to know people, build trust." And successful marketing depends on trust, according to Williams. "This is a relationship business."

SERVICE MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR hospitality

Marketing
Fundamental to the marketing support that Abilitas Hospitality provides to group hotels is support in creating their marketing strategies and tailored annual marketing plans based on each hotel’s market positioning, unique features, market segments and business environment. We also advise and support each hotel on developing their brand identity and e-marketing strategies. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is another vital element in our marketing support. We provide training in conjunction with technical support and CRM tools implementation required to successfully manage each hotel’s customer relationships.

Public Relations

Our public relations team provides professional guidance and specific action plans for hotels' PR and marketing communications efforts. Support is geared to the specific needs of each hotel, so as issues arise our team can provide advice on the best approach from a PR perspective. Other PR support services include reviewing and giving feedback on press materials produced by the hotel, advice on media relations and risk management PR, providing PR workshops, and support in planning hotel press events.

SERVICE MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR HEALTH

Begin by developing relationships with young physicians that are entering your community. They need seasoned physicians to break into the medical community and to support them in the community at large. New primary care physicians want to know which specialists to send their patients to. They will gain confidence in your ability to treat their patients from both a personal and a clinical point of view once you open the lines of communication and strengthen the relationship. Younger specialists need to know as much as they can about the primary care physicians that serve the community, especially those that have been in practice for an extended period of time. They will appreciate your knowledge of the community and the politics of medicine. Look to the medical staff office at your hospital for a roster of new staff members. Develop an approach to become familiar with the new docs in town. If there are only a few, your job will be simple. If there are many, you will need to set a goal on how many you want to contact each month and what criteria you will use to prioritize the list. Meet personally with each physician you have targeted, whether it be the specialty group or the primary care physicians. Invite them for a business lunch or perhaps to join you at a local Medical Society meeting to introduce them to other members of the medical community. Explore his or her personal and professional interests and begin to develop a profile on each physician. For those that have a sports interest you share, invite them for a round of golf or to attend a sporting event of interest. For those with similar family interests, you may want to ask them to join you for a community picnic or annual event. Your spouse may be helpful in nurturing relationships, as well. For example, both spouses may be interested in community service work, or education, or have their own private businesses. Whatever the commonality, be sure to make that connection active by introducing them and encouraging the relationship. Stay actively involved in hospital activities and committee work and use this as a source to work in tandem with some of the newer physicians. Hospital Grand Rounds and committee involvement can pay off big dividends in connecting with newer doctors. It is also very effective to tap into the media. Contact the health and medicine editor of your local newspaper. Inquire about a possible by-line and invite the editors to call you for an interview whenever a hot health care topic is ready to hit the news.

It is also a good idea to develop a practice business portfolio. It should include a black and white press photo, your curriculum vitae, a copy of any recent by-line articles and a list of areas you have specialized expertise and knowledge in. You might also include a list of lectures you are willing to conduct for community groups. Such a portfolio is good for contacting both the media and community organizations. The business portfolio is helpful in opening doors to get on a radio talk show, as well. We tend to think that they won’t be interested, but our experience proves they are most likely to welcome physicians who have something to say. It’s important to be prepared before you make the contact. Decide on a couple of relevant current health care issues you can speak about. Then set up an appointment or a telephone conference to discuss this. If it is a telephone conference, you should send your business portfolio in advance. If it is a meeting, bring it with you. Remember to be as personable as possible. Use these tried and true tips and you will begin to see your practice reap the benefits. It can also help to encourage your office manager to be active in community organizations. Pay her fees to join a local service group as your representative and to volunteer you as a program speaker. Also encourage your office manager to become active in local chapters of practice management organizations such as the Professional Association of Health Care Office Managers (PAHCOM) or Medical Group Management Association (MGMA). If there aren’t chapters of the organizations in your community, by all means encourage your practice manager to establish one. Contact with other office managers is vital to keeping your practice alive. If you need help into these ideas into action or exploring other ways to jump start your practice, call on a practice management and marketing advisor. They will make it a top priority and help you obtain the results you want. The most important asset in your practice is the people. This includes you and your staff, as well as the patients. Be sure your service is superior and that you and everyone working for you is committed to making the patients feel important. Do everything you can to take care of and attract patients of varying age ranges. Above all, be personable. That’s what patients really want and that’s what they will talk about among their friends and colleagues. It’s your practice—make the most of it!

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