Doing business in digital age — taking product to market

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Kudzai Mbaiwa
No business wants to be caught off guard and has to shut down for lack of foresight. In the digital age, it is important that you prepare your company for great shocks, but equally prepare for great growth. The phrase “disrupt or die” remains true. The face and nature of enterprise is changing due to the impact of technology, and specifically the era of the internet. What was once a small business can blow up easily overnight and surpass what traditional big business can do.
Key processes and functions in business administration such as production, marketing, supply chain management, accounting, payments are all being changed and/or improved by technology.
In taking a product to market, the four Ps still matter, product, pricing, promotion and place, but each of them is impacted by ICT.
Clearly defining product, price, place and promotion must all be considered when developing a marketing strategy of any product or brand of a start-up or an established business.
Balancing these four elements remains critical to marketers working hard to position a particular product or brand in the marketplace.
Product
All entrepreneurs are in the data business whether they know it or not — history teaches us about our products, ideas, competitors. In the internet age we can learn of the experiences of others in the same sector and use their experiences to refine our own product offering. Better yet we can get insight into the more advanced/similar economies products or services and replicate them, customizing for a local customer base.
There is instant access to platforms for comparison of specifications, and feedback from user experience, information that will be useful for offering better.
Products just have to be so compelling to consumers that they cannot resist paying top dollar. In the age of the internet, review sites abound, many of them dedicated to both physical goods and intangible services, then also pointing to associated goods and services.
Metrics exist to indicate customer experience and viewpoint of your product, and these are placed in the public domain. The quality of product must hold its own and consistently at that.
Advances in science and technology have enabled greater precision and optimizing in production processes and ease consistency. A serious business must make sure it has a killer product, with a clear value proposition for today’s discerning customer.
Pricing
I always find it strange that when selling on online platforms, some folks prefer to invite people to “inbox for prices”.
Someone intimated that such an action assures you that you are about to be given ridiculous pricing, and one must never accept the first inboxed price.
The internet gives people the opportunity to instantly compare prices of any product or service, in any location.
Once you have a product, take great care to select the best pricing model. In the digital age, new methodologies emerge, especially for services, where the freemium model works.
This one allows customers the use of services at no cost, then pay later if they do desire, perhaps by the subscribing for a better product after trial period.
Payment upfront is just no longer the thing, the customer is king again and can utilize products until they satisfy themselves that it is worth investing more in. With the proliferation of online stores, applications, in order to compete every company must price right. Both over and undercharging will have impact thus it is an active game of trying to hit the sweet spot at which a decent quality product goes perfectly well with pricing – allowing costs to be recovered, a fair profit made by the promoter.
Companies no longer have to dig deep to discover competitors pricing or customer affordability, such info can be harvested quickly through straw polls and surveys. Expect downward pressure in pricing as technology enables transparency.
Promotion
In the internet age we all have opportunity to communicate anything to anyone, anywhere, any time. Marketing has never been easier and every serious business should have a website and a strong social media presence, otherwise you do not exist as a business in 2017.
It is said that it took 38 years to reach 50 million users of radio, and yet in contrast just 35 days for Angry Birds. The world has never moved this fast and will never move this slow again. We are in high speed times. Social media alone is practically God’s gift to those marketing business — there are spaces where like-minded people already gather together, and can be further disaggregated for any specific promotion activity. Advertising efforts for a single product on a platform like Facebook over a predetermined period can easily be customized to include particular gender, age, location and income. Analytics will point to the most successful interventions and engagements and give specifics that are useful for future publicity blitz.
Place
This decision concerns itself with where a product is sold and how it gets there. With its 1.3 billion users, Facebook is the 3rd largest nation after China and India.
More and more there has been a shift in capitalism where trust evolved from community transactions to capitalism proper and now digital trust.
Business is no longer institution based as it is interface based and crowd based. It’s happening in services, groceries, energy. We are living in exponential times. Considering demographic trends, education, climate, technology is important. It is truly business unusual.
At the heart of all things digital is community. Businesses that would disrupt would give people reason to want to engage with them/choice, give people something fun and easy to do and give them the tools to be ambassadors for them.
Placement therefore has ceased to be geographical only, but finding and creating those sympathetic to what a company produces.
In conclusion, it is a fact that in the digital age, brand new economics are being developed by small to medium enterprises.
The new reality is in increased productivity, with a smaller workforce and non-physical assets. At the heart is sustainability.
Manual processes such as filing are being replaced by storing files in the cloud, efficiency is being improved in collecting and collating valuable data of customer preferences, using that as a basis for predicting future trends. This is now the “gig economy”, where most things can be done online. Innovation is doing things better, and disruption is doing things better to make old things obsolete.
You are going to be disrupted as a business so you would rather become the disruptor.
Does your business modelling take account of that?
Ideas are not hard to come by, it is execution and building a working economic model that is tough. That will be our focus in the coming week.

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