Greatest Marketing Challenges Facing Businesses Today

A student asked me the other day what the greatest marketing challenges facing business today were and whether I think these challenges are different than they have been historically. That’s a great question and I’ve pondered it for a while.

Ultimately, what I decided is that I  really don’t think the challenges themselves are any different today than they have been historically and I think the same basic marketing principles apply today that have always applied. (In fact, I recently had a business colleague ask me for some recommendations on the best marketing books I’ve ever read and in going through my library I discovered that most were written quite a while ago, but still highly relevant – the underlying principles of marketing are the same as they ever were and are likely to stay the same for the foreseeable future).

So, what are the greatest marketing challenges facing business today and why are they really the same as they ever were? In my opinion, at a high level, the challenges are:

  • Identifying the most viable target audiences.
  • Effectively positioning what you have to offer against the competition.
  • Selecting the right communication channels to appeal to your identified audiences while conveying what’s different/better about what you have to offer.

Really no different than the challenges marketers have always faced. But, perhaps the one thing that has changed is volume. Today there are not only more potential customers, there are also more potential competitors and more potential communication channels. Combine these things and it doesn’t take long to realize that the greatest challenge facing marketers today is simply too many options! Too many potential customer segments. Too many product/service options and opportunities. Too many communication tools to choose from.

Today’s marketers don’t suffer from a lack of opportunity or outlets – they suffer from just the opposite. They suffer from too many opportunities and outlets.

Again, though, addressing this challenge doesn’t really require a *different* approach than it ever has. It does, though, require a focus on the right things. Those things are: your goals/objectives and your target audience. If you know what you want to achieve–specifically!–and you know who–specifically!–you want to achieve it with, you can successfully wade through the multiple options available to you to choose those that are likely to generate the greatest results at the least cost. That, ultimately, I believe should be the goal of any marketer: generating the greatest results at the least cost.

That has always been the goal. And, while in some ways, it may have seemed easier to achieve that goal in the “old days” when communication options were limited, the fact is that we have the opportunity to be far more successful in achieving this goal today because we can more narrowly, more specifically and–hopefully–more effectively target exactly the right people we need to reach to achieve our goals. This is both a blessing and a curse.

It’s no longer about running an ad on one of the “big 3” television networks. It’s about identifying the wide range of communication options available to you and narrowing them down to the ones that are  most likely to reach your target audience at the right time in the right place with the right key messages to encourage some desired action.

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