I recently came across an interesting article on the state and hopes of the LPG industry in Australia. It serves as a good product focused marketing strategy example.
These last few years they’ve faced a declining market due to the popularity of the hybrids, high tech fuel efficient engines and the resurgence of diesel power.
Michael Carmody, the CEO of LPG Australia, has a mandate to be product centred – he is after all the head of a product focused entity. So in response to a declining market it is no surprise to read he’s staying “on product”. However he is also representing the LPG converters and installers who have been doing it very tough. I think they need some better advice.
As quoted on a recent article on the carsales.com.au network, he states:
“The decline in vehicle conversions started occurring in 2008, which I guess was the heyday of vehicle conversions — and the conversions have been declining since that period, where today the market is doing it extremely tough… in terms of keeping that vehicle conversionindustry a viable industry.”
From a technical background, I never really understood what marketing was. I think a lot of people think of marketing as the sales back office, those in sales who prefer to stay in the office, the ones that organise the brochures and events, and think on how a product can be dressed up to sell more. Studying marketing management has made me realise that a marketing department is so much more.
Sales is only a small facet of a marketing departments concern. I believe a great marketing department will ask (and prove) things like:
Who are the customers?
What problem are we solving for them?
What is the essence of our value proposition?
Marketing should be less about putting dressing on the product and more about understanding and improving the essence of what the product does for the end user. A key benefit of this way of thinking is that it opens the mind to considering other opportunities to deliver similar customer value and lessens reliance on a particular product. We see this now, with electricity companies, rebranding themselves as energy companies, or how apple has successfully repositioned from computers to encompassing “your whole digital life”.
The product or service you provide will be disrupted at some point, and this reframing will help prevent such an event from being a business disaster. Maybe even it will be your company doing the disruption.