I was doing some reading recently when I came across a quote in Forbes magazine that I haven’t heard of in a long time . . .
Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.” Peter Drucker – 1973
I frequently meet people who are at a quandary of whether their business will be better off with more marketing (traffic to their door) OR with better operating efficiencies and standard procedures. Drucker reminds me in his quote that it is both and as a consultant, my job is to find the balance of implementing marketing innovation and business innovation in a manner that brings the quickest and most quantifiable ROI to my clients – from a financial as well as results perspective.
Here’s a quick breakdown on what Marketing and Innovation means for our autobody industry – from my point of view.
Marketing, creates brand awareness, trust in the brand, and top-of-mind awareness of your business (brand being your business name). In other words, marketing makes people aware of your companies name, logo, and location. When done well, people will have trust and confidence in doing business with you – even if they haven’t met you before. Social media usage coupled with the recent search engine changes (for your website – you have one – right?) online marketing vastly extends your word-of-mouth marketing. Marketing is certainly one area where you don’t want to put all your eggs into one basket – a solid strategy could consist of online, face-to-face, paper, radio, television, social media, community, cause, or guerrilla marketing tactics. The first thing to do is to allocate an annual marketing budget (3% of overall revenue is a good goal) and to put a strategy together. The second step is to stay true to this commitment. Lac k of commitment is one of businesses biggest failures – motivation is the multiplier to success though, so try your hardest to stay focused and on-task.
Innovation is, by definition; “the introduction of something new”. Nearly everyone will have their own interpretation for what is innovation – but to me, it’s the willingness to continually try something new to better your business results or to provide a greater customer experience – Kai-zen in Lean terms. This term also loops-back to the first – Marketing, in having the willingness to try different ways of marketing your business. To many, innovation represents Lean, Mobile-Estimating, or Blueprinting –reality is, that it’s usually more simplistic than that. Realistically, having firm business processes alone defines innovation for the majority of the businesses. No matter – innovation is innovation, and as long as it’s centered on your business needs; then you’re headed in the right direction.
In the big picture, marketing brings customers to your door and innovative approaches to customer service, repair quality, and meeting consumer expectations (i.e. cycle time) will bring them back.
No doubt about it, Drucker was right on the mark way back in 1973 with his statement, and nearly 40 years later it’s still true that marketing and innovation need to play a pivotal part of your daily operations.
By: Chris Sheehy – Auto Body Consultant at Autobody Consulting Group LLC www.AutobodyConsultingGroup.comAutobody Consulting Group, a business operations, administrative, production, estimating, management, marketing, and social media consultancy serving auto body collision repair businesses and vendors to the autobody industry.