The Key Success Factors in Marketing

Key Success Factors
••• Getty Images /Thomas Bar

Whether you're operating an established small business or just starting out, a successful marketing strategy is important to your success. Many small businesses make the mistake of viewing marketing as something that only needs to be done sporadically. However, for marketing to be effective, your efforts (based on research) need to be implemented continuously. The term "key success factors in marketing" represents the basic steps you should take to ensure the success of your business. 

Marketing Versus Sales 

Many businesses assume that marketing and sales are the same things, but they're not. Marketing is actually composed of two separate elements: marketing research and marketing strategies. Marketing techniques that you use to implement your marketing strategies will always lead to successful sales. Sales efforts without the benefit of marketing research and marketing strategies will likely not result in optimal success. In the end, sales are always the result of a carefully strategized marketing concept.

Key Success Factors

Key success factors are defined as the basic planning, design, and implementation of the way in which products and services will be presented to consumers to result in successful sales. For example, a major food corporation might plan, design, and implement marketing strategies to reach health-conscious moms between the ages of 25 and 35 based on exhaustive studies that showed that this target market group wants healthy choices.

The studies done by the food company should result in the creation of marketing strategies that meet the needs of consumers within that market. Again, using healthy moms as an example, moms on the go in busy Northeastern cities want the convenience of picking up healthy food choices near their local dry cleaner, gym, or daycare center. This marketing strategy will engender the greatest positive reaction/consumer consumption from the food company's targeted market. Healthy moms are just one example.

Any well-developed marketing strategy (based on extensive research) becomes a part of the overall sales style of the business as it relates to the company's product offering. 

Ongoing, Robust Sales Are Key 

Each business identifies its key success factors differently depending on the nature of its products and services. Ideally, key success factors are experienced in ongoing sales that continuously produce healthy business revenues. They can also be seen in the context of successful advertising and promotional campaigns. Things to consider when identifying key success factors include the consumer's response to advertising and promotions, customer retention, successful trade show presentations, and what the PR world refers to social media buzz.

 If your social media platforms are blowing up, if you have double the amount of followers online, and if your customer retention figures are better than expected, you know you're strategies are working.

Messaging Is Vitally Important

The purpose of key success factors is to inspire your marketing and sales team to a more robust business bottom line through incentives. What you need to do is determine what you want to accomplish through your marketing efforts and then tailor your messaging accordingly. For example, if you're advertising the grand opening of a second nail salon and your objective is to get as many people to attend the grand opening as possible, offer 20 percent off a mani-pedi to the first 25 people who arrive.

Maintaining vigilance over key success factors will help you gauge potential within the target market and also in the realm of business competition. 

Key Success Factors Differ by Industry

Different types of key success factors are more advantageous to some businesses than they are to others. For example, a key success factor for a successful car dealership is the traditional 4th of July sale. But this key success factor might not be appropriate for businesses that are service oriented or that offer products that have no margin for discounts. 

Tracking Data 

Data tracking is an important aspect of gathering additional information that should produce visible proof of marketing success. It helps correlate marketing strategies to successful marketing results (i.e., robust sales). Data tracking is also used as a sales training tool in that it helps sales personnel identify those marketing techniques that have the strongest effect. For example, businesses that rely on trade association events to promote their products or services might want to track all the new business gained through event participation.

This is commonly done in the wedding industry, where bakers, stationers, producers of tablecloths, and floral arrangers network and increase their client base.