What are the biggest challenges facing business today?

What are the challenges facing businesses today, particularly when it comes to marketing and communications?

As the world has changed dramatically with new inventions and high tech communications, what are the challenges facing businesses today, particularly when it comes to marketing and communications?

In the 1950s business schools were teaching that marketing decisions should flow first from knowing who the customer is and what is it that they want. Once this is known, only then can a company or organization develop a marketing and communications process to sell their products or services.

A current definition of marketing/communication defines it as the business function that identifies unfulfilled needs and wants, determines which target market can be best served, decides on the appropriate products, pricing, promotion and placement to serve these markets.

Given that the underlying principles of marketing/communications (marcom) have not significantly changed the challenges then are no different than what businesses have always had to deal with. And they will likely stay the same for the foreseeable future.

What are the biggest challenges then? The first is to be able to clearly identify who your best prospects are and understand what they want. The second is to be able to effectively position your business against the competition. The third is to be able to select the right message and communication channels that will reach your selected target audience.

While the foregoing are the three main challenges there is another overriding challenge that has a huge impact on the development of a marcom strategy. In a nutshell that challenge is simply there is too much of everything.

Too many communications media to chose from, too may competitors, too many market segments, and too many options and opportunities.

It all sounds very daunting. However one thing that does not change is the importance of being able to focus on your goals and objectives. If you are able to articulate what you want to achieve and who you want to reach, then you can navigate your way through the multitude of options and opportunities that are being generated by today’s complex social environment.

The downfall of many companies, big or small, product or service-oriented, is the failure to be able to become memorable by distinguishing or differentiating themselves in the minds of their customers.

Today’s marcom tactics are focused on building relationships, and that is something else that has not changed. Relationships between two parties since the beginning of time are built on perception, mutual understanding and trust.

The key word here in the world of marketing and communications is perception. The challenge of your marcom strategy then is to ensure that your customers perceive you as someone they want to do business with. That they perceive you have something they need and want and most important that they perceive you to be the best choice to satisfy their needs.

The bottom line for today’s businesses is to be able to focus on who you are, what you do and how are you going to communicate with the people most likely to buy what you have to sell in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at joesmith@shaw.ca.

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