Is market saturation a factual term, or just one of those spruced-up theoretical concepts which only happens to ‘other’ industry sectors? As I work with UK business data, one of the most enjoyable aspects is that everything is provable.
Market saturation is definitely a factual term. The mobile phone sector at the turn of the new Millennium being a good example.
Today there are 10,000 business consultancy practices UK-wide. This sector has grown in volume massively since the turn of the Millennium. Operating within the b2b sector to help guide, coach and support other businesses to grow in profit. This service typically involves reviewing the company’s full operation from sales & marketing, IT systems, team infrastructure & motivation, operational processes & efficiencies, financial management, reporting & measurement, wasted expenditure and any aspect where additional revenue can be earned or savings can be made.
But who are their target market of these 10,000 consultancies? This is the question.
Does a sole trader really need all these services, and could they afford them? Do the high street branches of national chains have the autonomy to enlist such services? And is it a service investment which the public or charity sectors would be able to justify?
The numbers are factual; the UK hosts 500,000 viable business prospects for these 10,000 business consultancies. The figure increases (possibly trebles) if micro businesses could be considered, and halves if a threshold of around 8+ employees is implemented.
This means that (if prospects were shared out equally) each business consultancy has a prospect pool of just 50 prospects.
Most viable companies (and by most, I mean well in excess of 90%) will have been called many times over, offering an appointment with one of numerous business consultants.
Let me elaborate on the term ‘many times’ by doing the math: say 10,000 consultancies each make 1,000 outbound telemarketing calls per month with a view to setting an appointment. That would be 12,000 calls per year per business consultancy. Times this by the 10,000 consultancies and that means 120 million calls per year. To 500,000 prospects, that would make 240 calls per year per business prospect.
i.e., each prospect would receive a marketing call each and every day.
Whilst these numbers can be argued (and not every consultancy makes telemarketing calls as a part of their marketing strategy) I am aware that some consultancies make five or ten times this volume of calls per month. So however these numbers are translated, it is factual to say that almost every viable commercial prospect has been contacted a staggering number of times.
Branding & Bread Crumbs
There are times when branding is counter-productive. Receiving five marketing calls per week is one thing, but what if you received those calls from the same company? Some would regard this as brand awareness, but from my experience would suggest it more akin to brand damage.
Much of the UK population has shifted loyalty from branded goods over recent years, now regarding for example the cut price supermarkets as a better value alternative. Whereas other brands (such as Virgin) have focused their well-received brand image on customer value.
With branding comes uniformity, alignment and consistency. Wherever you are in the World you would expect a Big Mac to be consistent; in contents, taste, service and (allowing for regional fluctuations) price. With business consultancies the service is to some degree personal. Trust in the individual providing the consultancy service is key, and that is not measured so much in terms of brand value as by the individual’s personal attributes.
Yet many business consultants market themselves with exactly the same message. Perhaps the most unsavory of these messages is what can only be described as the trail of golden breadcrumbs, leading to an enforced “yes”. For example:
“Would you like to earn £1million per year in profit?” <yes>
“So you would like your business to win more customers and run more efficiently?” <yes>
“Would you like to spend less time working in your business?” <yes>
“My consultancy can help you deliver all this. Would you like to meet?” <pause for answer>
Business owners and company directors (by their very nature) are intelligent people who can see through these leading questions, and such an approach might even lead to offence.
So is it any great surprise that I have come into contact with many business consultants over recent years who have invested thousands of pounds in their telemarketing campaigns, and yielded absolutely nothing by way of return? As some would say … keep doing the same thing and you will keep getting the same result.
Conquering Your Marketing
There remains a positively vibrant and viable marketplace for business consultants today. But the route to market, marketing message and even the target market could benefit from some changes if future growth is to be achieved.
Marketing has four principles; what to say, how to say it, who to say it to and when to say it.
The “what to say?” element is simple; a direct, honest approach should outperform the trail of golden breadcrumbs. People buy from people, so be true to yourself. The marketing message needs to reflect who you are, rather than the words of someone else. The breadcrumb approach may have once worked well, but times change and business owners are wise to it.
“How to say it?” is really more about the marketing channel; is telemarketing right for your business, or should you try other routes to market? If the message remains the same, other marketing channels should yield the same result. There is a place for telemarketing, providing the message changes. Such as the removal of guided “yes” responses.
The “who to say it to?” needs to diversify also. Why keep hammering away at the same saturated market? And here is where I have two ideas of new markets; as a combined pool, there are 1.5 million new prospects available. Not completely untouched, but certainly this prospect pool is far from saturated by comparison. So I would welcome further discussion on this with any interested business consultancy.
As for the “when?”, if the service is needed then the timing is now.