The Second Commandment of Marketing – Thou Shalt Learn to Predict the Future
When an organisation is deciding its future, planning its goals and writing a business strategy, an important step is analysing the external marketplace or ‘macro ecosystem’. Over the years there have been major changes in the way businesses trade and the requirements of customers, so to stay ahead of the game you must predict and plan for future trends.
The acronym PESTEL is a handy tool in the time of action, as it will help you works out where your company currently stands, i.e. strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, in relation to external factors. Below I will show you how to apply this to your business so you can see how to manoeuvre any possible pitfalls in the near future.
P is for Political
As we all know the government have their way of meddling in everyone’s lives, and unfortunately in businesses too. Changes in government policies, regulatory bodies, and funding can shape the opportunities that are open to your organisation. When creating a strategy for the future you need to bear in mind what the political scenery may look like in the next year, especially if you plan to trade oversea.
E is for Economic
For anyone who has been living under a rock, the country, neigh the world, is at present in one of the worst financial messes of the last century. Depending on your viewpoint, this is either a good thing or a bad thing for your business. Interest rates are lower but then again business loans are more difficult to come by, there are less consumers spending money but with any luck your competition will go out of business, giving the opportunity to pinch all their clients!
S is for Social
As you well know, the buying habits of the general public are very different to those of businesses. Over the last ten years alone, there has been a huge change in people’s priorities, including a rise in need for environmentally friendly and sustainable products, and buying habits, thanks to the internet and out of town shopping centres. Customers now expect to be able to buy 24 hours a day and will have your competitors’ details at their fingertips. It is important to make sure your company is paying close attention to the different behaviours of your clientele and caters to their needs.
T is for Technological
As mentioned above the internet has revolutionalised the world – we now have mobile phones on which we can broadcast messages to hundreds of people at the touch of a button, websites which tell us what Hugh Jackman is doing at 2am, and we can find a video clip from a TV programme which went off air 20 years ago. Technology is a fabulous thing but if you snooze, you lose. Your company needs to keep up to date on advances, if not just to keep up with the competition but to make your lives a little easier.
E is for Environmental
Diminishing natural resources and increased concerns regarding the ecosystem have affected everyone, whether they run a business or not. The price of oil has increased, companies need to show their green credentials to work in certain arenas and fines are in place for those who don’t to comply with waste management and pollution regulations. Ensuring your company is as green as possible will not only help you sell to environmentally conscious organisations, but will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside!
L is for Legal
New legislation can greatly change a sector at the drop of a hat. When the smoking ban of 2007 came into practice, there was a enormous impact on public houses and social clubs. Their clientele disappeared overnight, there was an increase in alcohol purchased in supermarkets for home consumption, and ultimately local pubs began to close down. Now, nobody likes to see a pub closing less than I do but unfortunately, this is what happens. Those who were savvy and had the foresight to build smoking areas not only retained drinkers but attracted new ones. When planning for your organisation’s future you need to be aware of possible changes in health and safety, employment legislation and data protection.