Marketing for success

What is marketing?

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the definition of marketing. To help define marketing, we should outline what it is not. Marketing is not simply advertising or selling although both are elements of marketing.

In its simplest term, marketing is described as” The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customers requirements profitably” Or put it in an even simpler way marketing is about giving customers what they want, when they want it, where they want it and making sure you make a profit.

Concepts such as brand building and customer relationship management may seem slightly more nebulous in terms of immediate impact on revenue, but it is this type of activity that will assist in achieving customer loyalty. Loyal customers generate invaluable Word of Mouth referrals and provide repeat business, reducing your cost of sale. Whatever the size of your business, successful marketing relies on a combination of long-term strategy and a short-term plan of action

The absolute basics of marketing

Depending on what you read or who you speak to there are many different models to simplify the process of marketing, but if you strip it to its simplest form, marketing can be described as the 4 P’s, Product, Price, Promotion and Place. If you only ever remember the 4 P’s and you get these right, then you are well on your way to making a success out of your business.

Remember, the 4 P’s are about having the right product, at the right price, promoting it and getting it to your customers. Use the 4P’s as an ongoing checklist to remind you about the areas of business you need to continually focus on.


Get your product mix right

To successfully market your business you need to make sure you have the right products. Every single product has a lifecycle and will eventually become obsolete so make sure you don’t get left behind through supplying products nobody wants anymore. Even food goes out of fashion as tastes and education changes. In the food industry, this is very noticeable by the campaigns that are run by the major supermarkets and celebrity chefs and these major campaigns will filter down to what your customers think about what you are offering.

TOP TIP - Find out what products your customers would like you to serve by having a small prize draw for those customers who fill in a quick questionnaire

Practical options

Here are some practical solutions to help make sure you are offering the right products for your customers and maximising your income from your range.

  1. Have a specials board to test new product ideas and new suppliers lines, you can then find out what your customers like.
  2. Change a selection of your products to match the seasons (winter soups, summer salads, autumn fruit pies for example)
  3. Produce a checklist calendar for yourself with every special occasion you can think of such as mother’s day, Valentines Day, St Georges Day and bonfire night. Make and sell themed products. If you check with your local BAKO office you will be able to find out which suppliers are producing special ranges.
  4. See if you are “pitching” your quality correctly by launching a small range of “Extra special products” or “Value lines”. You might find you have a large number of discerning customers willing to pay more for better quality.


Price your products for profit

To maximise your profitability its important you price your products correctly, but you need to understand the “elasticity of your pricing strategy”. If you price too low, you may be very busy but make no money and eventually your quality will suffer, equally price too high you may not attract enough customers to successfully run the business. Your aim should be to charge as much as possible whilst still delivering good value for money. Remember, it’s not about being cheap, but about providing value, and this could mean selling a sandwich for £10 if it is the best steak sandwich in the world. Customers are likely to pay more for better perceived quality so think about matching your prices to your products.

TOP TIP - Work out how your customers feel about price by selling a range of added value products at a higher price. For example a sandwich on home made bread, with dry cured ham, mature cheese and speciality pickle. You might find that your customers are not influenced by price as much as you think.

Place (getting your product to market)

Chances are you will have a retail outlet and this is how you will get your products to your customers (they enter your shop/café to get your products). In retail, the most important thing is the right location. Certain types of businesses can operate out of town as people will be willing to travel to certain types of, or collections of, retailers. Even exceptional restaurants can prosper by their gravitational pull but it is most likely that your business will be dependent on passing trade and customers within a few hundred meters. If your are not in the right place, you only have a small number of options available to you

  1. Move to a better location
  2. Make your products so good and such value for money that people will come further for them
  3. Grab a bigger market share
  4. Go to your customers.

TOP TIP - Stand outside your premises and count the number of people passing in 15 minutes at various times of the day. This will give you an indication of your potential market. You can then use this basis to determine the potential market for other locations you may wish to move your business to in order to expand.


Tell your world

Promotion is the fourth key area of the marketing mix and the one people most associate with the word marketing. When you have the right product mix, priced correctly and you are in the right location or can get the products to your customers successfully, the only remaining thing to do is to tell them.

Point of sale

Point of sale design can help your business in two ways. By promoting special offers to passing trade you can attract more people in. The most cost effective way of doing this is by clear messages on window posters. Try to change your promotion every couple of weeks to keep it fresh and make sure it’s well designed and portrays your business in a positive way. The second way point of sale can help your business is by encouraging people to spend more. This can be done by promoting additional products or offering package deals, such as meal deals or buy 4 get one free.

Here are some examples of point of sale you might want to try

  • Window posters
  • Wall posters
  • Payment signs
  • Hanging mobiles
  • Counter displays


Advertising takes many forms and can be the best way to promote your business to a large customer base. On a regional basis you have the options of TV, radio, bus, outdoor posters, local papers, local magazines and on-line advertising. All forma of adverting have a media pack which tells you the coverage, number of people who see/hear the advert and the cost. Make sure you obtain a media pack before arranging to see a representative so you can make up your own mind up first. If you want to launch or grow a business you need to communicate to people and advertising is one of the quickest ways to do this. If your business is not in a prime retail location, chances are you will need to spend a bit more on advertising in order to get the customers to come to you. The important things to remember are:-

  1. Make sure there is little wastage. Radio and TV can cover larger areas than your customs will come from. It’s no point covering 200 square miles with a radio advert if your customers come from 1 mile from your business.
  2. Check the cost carefully. Media can be very expensive.
  3. Work out how much more business you will need to generate in order to cover the cost of the advertising and if this is achievable.
  4. Don’t forget the cost of production.

Leaflet drops

For small, local establishments leaflet drops are the best way to spread your message. You can produce as many or as few as you want and can either distribute them your self, or via a distribution company to the exact business areas or neighborhood you want to target. You can also attach coupons or vouchers so you can get clear feedback of the effectiveness.


PR, or public relations is an excellent way to embrace your customers through relationship building by engaging the local media. Inviting the press to an opening or special event can get you valuable media coverage at no cost. Make sure you send a press release to your local paper ever time you have important news to tell. If you don’t have much news, you need to think about ways to generate news, for example entering local small business awards, entering national food awards, raising money for charity or obtaining quality accreditations and become a member of all your local business clubs to get your name around to other business owners.


Websites are an excellent way to promote your business, but you have to remember that unlike other forms of advertising where you are targeting the customer, websites only work when the customer is looking for you or a business like you. This is why for catering; it is more likely to work in an area visited by people on holiday or business where, prior to a visit, customers would use a search engine to look for restaurants, attractions, hotels and so on. In a small community or none tourist town, heavy promotion on-line will probably not deliver the value for money you are looking for. The exception to this will be establishments targeting the business market with conference and corporate hospitality facilities.

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