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Marketing for growth: whatever you do, don’t listen to Bernard Arnault

A famous quote by Bernard Arnault, Chairman and CEO of LVMH Moët Hennesey – Louis Vuitton SE says this:

“What made Louis Vuitton famous was the quality. We don’t do marketing; we just create products which are exceptional in their design and craftsmanship.”

The implication of course is that if you focus on creating a great product or service then you don’t need to do marketing. Now, far be it from me to argue with the richest person in fashion, but that’s just wrong.

Firstly, let’s look at why I think that statement is so far wrong. You may not see too many Louis Vuitton adverts on prime-time TV or billboards outside the station, but that’s advertising and only a small percentage of what marketing encompasses. Louis Vuitton has a brand that they defend robustly, their products are worn by many high-profile individuals who act as brand ambassadors and the company looks after in their own way. There is a website with a very nicely shot video of trendy and elegant models showing off their product, and they attend all the right shows and events like London Fashion Week. I’m sorry Bernard, but those things are most undeniably marketing!

The other side to the quote is the apparent separation between product/service design and marketing. This, I’m afraid, is a distinction that simply doesn’t exist. There is no point in designing something exceptional, if nobody wants it – you only need to do a quick trawl through Kickstarter to realise that!

So marketing is integral to developing any successful business (whether you did it intentionally or otherwise) and should permeate all aspects of it to ensure the customer gets what they want. But there are two ways to do marketing, broadly speaking… you can be passive, or you can be proactive.

Avoiding feast and famine…

One of the side-effects of a passive or unintentional approach to marketing is experiencing significant peaks and troughs in your sales figures. This happens for many reasons, but the most common among SMEs is that they have their loyal client base which forms perhaps 90% or more of their business. Your performance in this scenario is entirely dependent on those clients and their cycles of demand.

A more sustainable ratio for your business is that as little as 60% of your business comes from a loyal core of clients, with the remainder made up from new business and occasional business. But, in order to bring more of these types of client into the business, you need to be proactive in your approach to marketing.

The best time to do it is when you don’t have time!

It’s one of the hardest realities of proactive marketing, but one of the things all business owners struggle with is finding time. As a consequence, it is often left until business starts to dip and it becomes urgent. The problem with this is that this usually coincides with increased pressure on budgets and proactive marketing with no guarantee of results becomes harder to do.

A friend of mine is working in a small business that is facing this exact issue. They are one of the fortunate ones who found a way, not just to survive, but to thrive in the last year. As a consequence, they are busier than they have ever been, but they know that this is exactly the time when they should be proactively marketing the business. The problem is time.

One thing we would suggest is that while you have resource, but not time, the best thing you can do is get help. It can be difficult to find the right person, but there are many freelance marketing professionals out there who will take some of the pressure off your shoulders. From copy writing to managing social media, from managing websites and SEO to developing campaigns.

Of course, if you want to talk to us about how we can help advise you in sustaining and capitalising on your growth, we’d be delighted to have a confidential chat.

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