The economy, environment as well as social factors, attitudes towards faith or charitable giving and, finally, technology are all factors you should take into consideration when developing your marketing strategy.
We discussed last time about some of the macro factors (specifically policy or legislation and geopolitical shifts) to take into consideration. Now, we’ll look at other factors in the macro environment and how that can shape your marketing strategy as well as how to get your information.
Other Macro Factors
The economy, locally, nationally and globally, can have an effect on your business. The recession that hit most markets in 2011 and 2012 has had a longer-term impact on the North East of England, where I’m based, far more so than it had on the South of the country.
Economies are also micro, as in the case of the local economy. What is yours built on? An industrial legacy or is your area like Silicon Valley, and everyone works in IT It’s important to think about this, because this is where your customers are. It’s important for both B2B and B2C companies to pay attention to this.
The environment is also important. Things like emissions are of concern to a company with a fleet of vehicles, or processing products, or even a small business which needs to get rid of its waste. Recycling is really important in the UK, for instance. These policies aren’t set locally, but globally, such as the Kyoto Agreement, which we have to adhere to all the same.
Social factors is about looking at changes in society, in people’s values and behaviours. 20 years ago, nobody had heard of social media, and now every other person has a Facebook account and use it to communicate with friends and family, even sharing intimate details. This is a technological change but it has a social impact.
Attitudes towards faith or charitable giving. In many places, for example, Eastern Europe, people aren’t used to giving to charities and it’s not part of the culture. In parts of Asia, the UK or the US, it’s more common for us – people take pride in this, and fundraise for charities.
In terms of marketing, technological changes have brought the biggest changes. The internet, social media and then web 2.0 with user-generated content and the ability to communicate with our customers and them to communicate with each other, have all come about in the last 20 years.
Technology isn’t just about software, though. It’s also hardware, such as the smartphone, but also the materials we use.
In clothing, the materials we use have completely changed in recent years. (500 ish)
Where to get Your Information From
The industry publications for your sector will be able to give you this information, as they are constantly looking at future trends. Likewise, if you’re a member of a professional body they’ll be able to update you. These groups have research teams and their results are available, often free of charge, if you ask for it. Your local chamber of commerce and any networks you’re part of can also help.
Bloggers, especially those in niche areas, are often ahead of developments and can be a great source of information. However, I would recommend you treat this as raw data, and go off and verify it elsewhere.
Never rely on Google searches!
Google will present to you the most popular content and what they think you want, but it won’t make you smarter. Use Google Scholar, or dig further down than the first five pages – what comes up there has been optimised for you to find it, but it’s not necessarily the most valuable information.
Look also at the “quality” press, such as The Economist Magazine, which should have this information, as will learning societies. This is all in the public domain, particularly in the UK.
This is not something you can do in five minutes, but it really helps you to build up a clearer picture of your environment, and you can come back to it again and again, adding another layer of knowledge and insight every time.
I would recommend you set up the appropriate RSS feeds and subscribe to newsletters to ensure you get the data you need on a regular basis. The macro environment can mean massive changes to your business but you can’t control them, so it’s important to be prepared.
Are you worried your marketing isn’t working right now?
If leads and enquiries are drying up, you’re not attracting the right customers or you’re not making enough profit – it’s time to investigate.