Five Ways An ERP System Can Benefit Your Marketing
Upon initial examination you wouldn’t consider an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) as a tool for your company’s marketing strategy- think again! Gone are the days where an ERP system (also referred to as Integrated Management Systems) was just about accounting, stock control, and profit margin! ERP is software that is developed for company-wide management, providing reliable information for all departments. Your marketing and sales department is no exception.
For many, ERP systems are tools for reducing waste, managing stock, controlling the manufacturing process, and other back-office functions. While these features are crucial for optimizing operations, many businesses fail to realise that their ERP systems are an incredible resource for their marketing and sales endeavours. Classical marketing students will know well the 4P’s of Marketing:
- Product- what you are going to sell
- Price – for how much you will sell it
- Place – where you will sell it
- Promotion – how and to whom will you promote it
Read on to see how an ERP system is a valuable partner in setting and supporting your marketing strategy.
1. Know Your Product
Before you can effectively design a strategy to increase market share and sales, you need to know your products intimately. ERP systems allow you access to data from all areas of your business in order to get to know your own product better! How long is a SKU on the shelf for? What are peak sales periods for the stock item? Are there any returns/complaints issues regarding the sales item? At what price does that item sell best? Does the SKU sell well with another stock item you may have? Are joint promotions something worth pursuing? What products sell better than others? The wealth of data that sits behind any stock item in a well utilised ERP system is staggering with its power to inform future marketing strategy, or indeed to analyse the effectiveness of marketing campaigns in the past.
2. Know The Right Price
Pricing is one half of the value equation, the product being the other. A product can be excellent, but if the price isn’t right the value proposition will not be right for your target customers! ERP’s historical data on pricing and sales levels help businesses narrow down their price window, as well as the price elasticity of their products. Your ERP system also assists in analysing the success of price promotion campaigns. You have access to historical data to help assess if a price promotion campaign has resulted in incremental volume and additional customers- or just allow your existing customers their usual quantity at a lower price and a lower margin for you, whilst not giving you additional overall sales volume! The wealth of data in an efficient ERP system can help sales teams fine-tune their pricing strategies to achieve long-term growth.
3. Know Your Right Place
When you are not the direct retailer, knowing which of your channels (customers) are better suited to what products, enables you to tailor programs specific to each channel. Equally understanding why a product sells better in one channel than another allows for the opportunity to amend product offering or sales pitches specific to products and channels.
4. Know the Person/Customer
After you have figured out what and where you are selling, the next obvious question is: Who am I selling to? ERP systems provide powerful information about your customers. You can see when they buy, at what price they buy, how often they buy, where they buy, and what their ‘basket of goods’ is when they do buy. With such powerful customer information, tailored promotional strategies are possible. You could consider repeat-purchase driver programs, promoting bulk discounts at peak times for your customer, suggesting additional items to complement their usual basket, appropriately timed sales calls that are in sync with their ordering cycle to keep your business top-of-mind or personalised discounts for periods where your customer historically has a drop in order quantity or frequency. The possibility of tailoring your sales and marketing approach to specific customers, or groups of customers, is virtually endless- when you have the power of data then an ERP system can offer you at your disposal.
5. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Depending on your business type, you may have products and customers that require ongoing maintenance and relationship building. Where Key Account Management is a key factor in your marketing and sales process, ERP systems are an indispensable partner. The CRM (Customer Relationship Management) allows your sales team access to all key data and transactions their customer has had with your business. This includes factors like sales rates and historical sales levels that sales agents can use to track and identify any areas of growth or any areas of concern. The CRM tool allows for any person in the business to call up a customer’s profile at any time should there be an enquiry. Having information about the customer, their purchases and any interactions they have had with the business enables staff to give accurate, efficient, and personalised service to that client. CRM functionality also helps track the sales process from the first contact to final order- allowing you to analyse your sales process, iron out any unnecessary delays, and improve deal-closure time!
An efficient and well utilised ERP system, such as Omni Accounts, is an often overlooked, but powerful tool. It can support, interrogate and help form your marketing and sales strategy, helping you understand both your products and your customers better.