An important aspect of building a business is promoting its services. PMF speaks to Comline’s Group Marketing & Communications Manager, Leigh Davies, about all things marketing.
Q. How did you get into marketing?
Leigh Davies (LD:) Upon leaving university, I looked to the golf industry for my first opportunity (sadly not as a playing professional) and took up a position in customer services with a golf equipment brand.
From there, I took on a variety of positions until I transitioned into marketing, where I discovered my professional passion. From this point on, I never looked back, and I’m currently in my 13th year as a marketing professional.
Q. How important would you say that marketing is in the modern business world?
LD: Marketing is not just important, it is essential! In a hugely competitive and global business world, defining and delivering an effective marketing strategy has never been more critical.
With the onset of new technologies, the way that products are brought to market has evolved massively, and there is a bewildering array of options and opportunities available to marketeers that can help a business, brand or product gain an important edge within the market place.
Whether you focus on the automotive aftermarket or beyond, the company right at the top of the tree will almost always be the one that is the most skilled at marketing themselves, their products and their services.
Q. Are there ‘do’s and don’ts’ in marketing?
LD: For me, the first and the most important ‘do’ is listening to your market. To deliver effective and impactful marketing, you must be in-tune with your customers and the markets in which you operate. Marketing in a vacuum does not work and is destined to fail.
You also need to adopt an open mind, particularly when operating in international markets. Every market is different, and the way that things are articulated and presented must be carefully tailored to suit. At times, this may mean delivering a campaign or solution which isn’t necessarily to your tastes, but if it is right for the market, you have to be prepared to park your own preferences.
Moving onto ‘don’ts’, I would say the most important rule is to never assume that you have cracked it. Nothing is the same for very long, and it’s very dangerous to sit back or become complacent, even if you are experiencing considerable success. You must remain vigilant and agile in response to market changes, and constantly strive to be better.
Q. What marketing duties do you undertake for Comline?
LD: My role within Comline focuses almost entirely on marketing communications, meaning I am not directly responsible for other areas of the marketing mix – such as pricing and distribution – although I do work closely with these departments.
Areas which fall under my responsibility include brand identity, positioning and the global promotion of Comline’s brands, which include Comline, Motaquip and Allied Nippon. Together with my dedicated and extremely talented team, we deliver a comprehensive marketing communications function to support our company, our brands and our customers.
Q. Do you see good marketing as particularly advantageous for motor factors?
LD: Again, it is not advantageous; it is crucial. Any business, in any sector, needs to effectively market itself to reach full potential. By having a clear identity, powerful messaging and utilising the right marketing tools, motor factors can genuinely differentiate themselves from their competitors.
Q. What marketing advice do you have for motor factors?
LD: Everything starts with a clear brand identity. To connect with your market, you must first clearly define who you are, what you stand for and how you want to present yourself. Find what makes your business and brand different from the rest and use that to your advantage.
Embrace technology and take full advantage of it. Social media is a perfect example of a tool which, if used correctly, can be hugely powerful for motor factors in developing a strong local or regional following. The ability for a factor to communicate instantly and directly with its core audience cannot be underestimated, and social media platforms like Facebook provide the facility to do just that. Carefully targeted pay-per-click advertising and a consistent stream of well thought out page content could really help a factor get noticed, generate business and build engagement with their customers.
Engage with your suppliers. From a Comline perspective, we are constantly working to support our customers with marketing activity, and barely a week goes by where we aren’t developing something tailored or bespoke for one of our customers.
Q. Does Comline offer any support to its distributors in this aspect?
LD: We offer Comline customers a broad spectrum of marketing support, from graphic design and event management assistance, to PR and media. We also offer our customers access to an extensive array of brand promotional materials (clothing, literature, merchandise, etc.), all of which is showcased within our ‘customer only’ online marketing portal.
Ultimately, we are always happy to engage with our customers, working in partnership to develop marketing strategies and to deliver effective solutions.