In 1997 Leslaw Henryk Bidzinski started a small business dealing with herbal
medicine. Leslaw is of Poland origin where herbal medicines are popularly used to cure many diseases and conditions. Leslaw himself was a cancer survivor having been treated using herbal medicines. This was his prime motivator towards starting the small business which he named “Herbs for everyone”. He has studied medicine and has improved his competence in herbal medicine through practice. The business was a sole proprietorship business dealing with contemporary medicines and also alternative medicines. The main reason why he decided to go sole was the fact that herbal medicines and remedies were not common in the place and he would have a hard time getting suitable partners (Jeynes, 2000). Leslaw’s desire to help sick people made him decide to start his herbal medicine business. The business would help those people, especially the elderly, who were seeking for alternative medication.
1. Current marketing strategy:
Leslaw’s business depends mainly on the word of mouth as the main marketing strategy (Bidzinski, 2012). The locals, who are the main customers of the business, are the agents of marketing as they pass information to other people in the area about the products and services. Most of the business’s new customers are those who have known about the shop from others. In order to excel in this kind of marketing, Leslaw knows the key is to provide the best services and products so that customers would talk about it to their peer. As a result of using this strategy as his main marketing strategy, Leslaw’s business has a low budget. It does not incur much marketing costs since customers themselves market the business. More of the business’s marketing budget is channelled to newspapers advertisements. Newspaper advertising has an advantage in that most of the customers are the elderly who have subscriptions to local newspapers. The elderly is also Leslaws most common customer to use his services.
Even with newspaper ads, word of mouth remains the most effective and the most applied (Bidzinski, 2012). There were other strategies that were used by the shop for marketing such as Yellow Pages and the company’s website. The advantage of using the company’s website is the fact that it will reach out to many people with little costs. Displays in the websites are attractive to look at thus attracting people. Feedbacks from customers and testimonies are made available in the website. Feedback is important as they give the shop a reference for measuring the level of success. It gives the shop the perspective of how customers view the business. From the feedbacks the will shop improves on its weak points and make services to customers better (Thomas & Applegate., 2010). Yellow Page is an emerging site for companies to advertise. “Herbs for Everyone” has not been left behind in this and also uses it in advertising. Of all these strategies, the most effective is by word of mouth. When customers get information from their peers, the information tend to have more impact, and this is the reason why the business has laid more emphasis on the strategy.
2. Mission and Vision
Mission: Leslaw’s mission is to provide high quality herbal remedies for anybody that wants it. Vision: To educate people on the great advantages that herbal therapies can offer in comparison to modern medicine. It is good for Leslaw to identify his mission and vision of the business. He can make this public and ensure people are aware of what his business is about this shows the business has a deeper meaning to his business rather than just being that business that provides herbal remedies. It also shows customers that they have a long term goal other than just trying to make a profit. 3. SWOT Analysis:
The SWOT analysis was carried out for Leslaws small business to help in understanding his business. 3.1. Strengths:
There are a number of strengths for Leslaw’s business.
* Main one being the location of the business as it’s the only place in town that provides herbal remedies. Therefore local people seeking alternative therapies have no choice but to go to ‘Herbs for Everyone’ unless they want to travel out of town but this is inconvenient for the potential customers, so low risk of them choosing another place to visit. * Second strength for the business is that they offer Electro Interstitial Scan which can help identify upcoming problems or help find the cause for the illness. This EIS scan is not majorly available so gives Leslaw a distinctive advantage. * Leslaw insists that all his clients must have an initial first consultation after that clients can choose to have their herbal medicine delivered to their door as he offers postal services therefore the client doesn’t have to keep coming back to the shop to collect the medicine. This is strength for the business as its making the service more convenient for the customer. * Each of the remedies prescribed are tailored to each individual and can be tailored for customers’ pets too this allows in reaching wider markets. 3.2. Weaknesses:
There are also few weaknesses Leslaw’s business holds.
* One of the weaknesses being Leslaw having limited research and development resources as he doesn’t have a budget for this nor does he have the resources to carry out any research and development on his products. * Being a sole trader Leslaw has limited liability meaning if the business fails to succeed he will lose all the money invested and if needed to pay out any fees, debts or suppliers Leslaw will have to pay out from his own money which could lead to him having to sell his car, house etc. * Leslaw currently doesn’t belong to a well-recognised Herbal society called National Institute Medical Herbalists also known as NIMH which offers the most recognised degrees for herbalists.(Avena Consultant, 2008)
* ‘Herbs for Everyone’ also offers other services such as massages, but it seems that potential clients might not know of these extra services due to lack of promotion about them. * Another weakness is that the business is currently not open on all weekdays, Mondays they are closed this doesn’t allow them to operate at 100% capacity. * Lastly, a big weakness for Leslaws business is that he is not a business man and he is not aware of his future potential or opportunities he can undertake due to lack of knowledge and no education in the business sector, therefore he is not interest in expanding his business even if there is potential to do so. 3.3. Opportunities:
‘Herbs for Everyone’ also holds opportunities that can be taken by Leslaw. * Main opportunity being that Leslaw can expand into other towns to grow the business and gain higher market share. * A personal opportunity for Leslaw is to undertake various degrees available to widen his knowledge and gain recognition to become a more trusted and respected herbalist. * Another opportunity for the business is to attract more customers by encouraging his current client to leave feedback on the services they receive from him and publish these on the business website and display them in his shop, can even use on his leaflets to promote clients being satisfied with the services. * Finally last opportunity Leslaw can take advantage of is to create more awareness about his other services available, so if the client isn’t interested in herbal remedies maybe they are in receiving massages, but they need to be aware of all services available from his business to maximise profits and clients. 3.4. Threats:
There are a number of threats that can affect the business and Leslaw needs to be aware of them and how they can harm his business. * Biggest threat for ‘Herbs for Everyone’ is the pharmaceutical companies who have huge R&D budgets and currently are main providers for modern medicine which is used my majority of sick people as that is what they doctors prescribe. There are less people seeking alternative therapies such as herbal remedies than people who choose modern medicine. * Another threat is if people want to seek alternative therapies they might come across more established and respected places to go to by doing some research, therefore Leslaws business might be dismissed as it’s not that well recognised and only exists in one town. * Government policies and legislation on the use and issuing of herbs for medical reasons are not very strict, however if Leslaw isn’t aware of legislations and policies concerning his business he in effect can be braking laws which will get him into trouble. There is a regulatory board ‘Herbal Medicine Regulatory Working Group’ who constantly monitors and regulates the use of herbal therapies in businesses. (Avena Consultants, 2008)
* Last threat identified is the lack of knowledge people might have about alternative therapies and the unknown side effects herbal medicine can carry due to lack of research available therefore people might be afraid to use alternative therapies, which carries a threat to businesses such as Leslaws existing. This is a very useful tool for Leslaw to use in evaluating the business opportunities. He can use the SWOT analysis to identify weaknesses that his business holds and try and work on them and reduce the number of weaknesses. He can undertake this tool himself just for general knowledge so Leslaw doesn’t even have to spend any money. By identifying the strengths he can pick out the main ones he can work on to make it a core competence of the business this way he can be on his way in building competitive advantage in case of any competitors arising in the area or even in the surrounding areas. 4. Competition and Competitors:
As any other business, ‘Herbs for Everybody’ has competitors and face major competition from all of them. The table below summarises the competitors on their pricing, quality and range of products, brand value and level of advertisement undertaken against ‘Herbs for Everyone’. By recognising competitors and identifying their activities, Leslaw can make changes to make his business stand out more and become more favourable amongst potential customers. Three main competitors are chosen where GSK, Double Ring Chinese Herbal Medicine and Archway Herbal. For a small local business like Leslaw’s it is good to know who their main direct competitors are to keep an eye on them as they can affect his business in a negative way as well as positive ways. | GSK(2012)| Double Ring Chinese Herbal Medicine(2012)| Archway herbal clinic(2012)| Herbs for everyone| Price| High price| Price on weight £10/KG| Price depend on the customer requirements| About £40/person/month | Quality| Can be questionable, through many tests when market the new drug| Naturally derived and safe with only occasional minor side effects|
Original material, high quality and low cost| Fresh ingredients and safety | Brand value| Long history famous herbs medicine company. Research and test new drugs qualifications | Established in 2001, popular in the England and Wales. Old brand in the China| 12years history and trusted brand. The centre of herbal medicine education| Building in 1997, first herbs medicine brand in their town| Products range and service| A range of prescription medicines, prescribed vaccines and customer healthcare products| TCM consultation, raw herbs, ready-mady tablets, acupuncture, medical massage, jar-cupping, and ear-candling| Drugs, herbs medicine, herbs treatment and even the clinical training and herb education | Herbal remedies, nutritional supplements. Full body scan (EIS) Acupuncture, Back pain specialist, therapeutic massage, reiki healing, hypnotherapy| Level of advertising| Online pictures, internet shops, TV video, news papers| Internet, real shop shows, telephone interview| Internet website and products news, herbs talk class| Real shop shows, and, online shop. Products news paper|
5. Ansoff’s growth matrix:
According to McDonald (2007, p.279), Ansoff’s matrix is an analysis tool for setting marketing objectives, and it is about “what is sold (the product), and who it is sold to (the market)”
This marketing tool isn’t that useful for Leslaw as him being a sole trader and owning a small business his goal is to sell as much of his existent product as possible. He has no R&D budget, so there is no chance of him innovating or developing his product further and Leslaw (2012) has stated that there are no future plans to expand the business into new towns or other markets: or it is in nature of small business owners to take high risk in trying to grow their business. Therefore the most practical marketing strategy for Leslaw is market penetration as the business is just looking to sell more of their products to the market by improving and increasing advertisement and promotional activities. 6. Marketing Objectives
Marketing objectives have been identified for ‘Herbs for Everyone’ to allow them to improve their business and attract more customers by carrying out Ansoff’s Matrix first to identify marketing strategy specifically for Leslaws business. * Aim to reach majority of the town population by better marketing promotion means such as posters across various location in town in the next 6 months. * Create more awareness among the locals about Herbal Medicine in surrounding towns in the next 2 years by increasing marketing budget to undertake various marketing activities identified to be successful.
* Improve word of mouth amongst his clients by encouraging them to share and leave feedback after they receive services by the end of 2013. Leslaw doesn’t actually have any set marketing objectives due to pretty much non-existent marketing budget, therefore doesn’t have the need to set any. But this will be useful for ‘Herbs for Everyone’ as it will allow Leslaw to progress in his business strategy in gaining more customers and creating more awareness and it be easy for him to manage and measure if he does set objectives. Also by identifying and creating marketing objectives then sharing with employees will allow for every employee to be involved in what Leslaw is planning and they can all help in achieving these objectives.
7. Market Segmentation, targeting and positioning:
Marketing often involves three key elements; segmenting the market; targeting the right audience; and positioning the product in the market in order to make sure you reach your potential customers. However for a small business such as ‘Herbs for Everybody’ is almost pointless to undertake any of the three elements stated above as they are the only business in town to do what they do, therefore their target market is the whole town population because if they attempted to target specific audience they are initially eliminating potential customers. Only if a competitor appears in the same town as where Leslaw’s business is based, then Leslaw might need to consider the three elements in order to differentiate what he offers and stay competitive against the new competitor. 8. Marketing Mix- 7P’s
The 7p’s of the marketing mix which includes; product, price, place, promotion, process, people and physical evidence have all been covered throughout the report. Leslaw needs to make sure that he gets the mix of the 7p’s right in order to help in achieving any marketing objectives and ensure that they are meeting customer needs and wants. Conclusion:
To conclude the report, it can be seen that Leslaw can undertake few of the marketing tools which are inexpensive in order to gain more customers and to enable his business to keep surviving in the market. Especially if any competitors enter his market, he would definitely need to take marketing more serious. Leslaw is not a business man therefore just how interested he is in growing and marketing his business is questionable.
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