What is a Marketing Strategy?
Creating a clear marketing strategy can drive your business to its ideal destination. Here’s how to research and create a strong marketing strategy.
A marketing strategy can help your business make money by drawing the right customers to you. When you market your business with the right strategy, you spread the word about what makes your products or services special over the competition.
Because a well-informed marketing strategy is vital to the success and growth of your business, it should be top a priority. But when it comes to establishing this all-important roadmap, where do you begin? The following are important steps to help you build a marketing strategy for your business.
Consider Your Goals
Because your marketing strategy impacts how you run your business, it’s wise to develop it with the help and support of your team. Together, identify your goals. Are you hoping to acquire new customers by increasing awareness of your products and services? Do you also wish to get more business from existing clients?
Let’s dive deeper in goal setting with SMARTER goals
Being aware of what you hope to achieve in terms of sales, revenue, or building new relationships while remaining mindful of expenses, resources, and any other limitations will help you and your business stay on the right track.
To set goals that are realistic and attainable, try following the easy-to-remember SMARTER approach:
- Specific: Clearly state what you hope to achieve.
- Measurable: Establish criteria for measuring your progress.
- Achievable: Make sure your goals are within your budget and the scope of your business.
- Relevant: Be certain that these goals will ultimately better your business and allow you to continue to serve your existing clients to the best of your ability.
- Timely: Hold yourself to a timeframe – let a deadline motivate you and your team to action.
- Evaluate: After the deadline has passed, evaluate whether you achieved your objectives. If not, pinpoint where things went wrong and thoughtfully consider how you’ll fix your marketing strategy going forward.
- Re-evaluate: As you proceed with a revised marketing strategy, continue to see if anything needs an adjustment. If the market for your product is changing, you’ll need to change with it.
After focusing on your company’s goals for your marketing plan, it’s time to turn your attention toward your audience.
Who is Your Ideal Customer?
Ask yourself: Who is our target audience, and what do they want and value? While it might be tempting to cast a wide net, it’s more effective to get specific. Define your ideal customer and direct your message to them.
Once you’ve narrowed your focus, do some research to learn what they buy, how they buy, and where they’re buying it. Begin by considering how this group gets information: websites, social media, television, radio, newspapers, direct mail? This type of information helps you figure out how, where, and when to connect while keeping in mind your budget.
As consumers move away from brick-and-mortar establishments to find what they need in cyberspace, consider whether your customers are following this trend, and if so, be sure to include ways to grow your online presence in your marketing strategy.
Knowing who your ideal customer is and how they’ll find your business is critical. Make sure to map out your customers’ journey to reveal the key points where marketing can be most effective.
After you determine who it is you want to reach and how, you’ll want to craft the right message.
Marketing Messaging: Benefit vs. Feature
In your marketing message, tell potential customers how your offering will benefit them. Let’s face it: Vague isn’t going to make anyone excited about your business, but a laser-sharp description of why you’re unique and how your products or services can improve their lives and business will make them take notice.
Rather than offering a laundry list of features, focus your message on the benefits of your product of service. Do you help customers save time or money? Those advantages are typically more compelling than a catalog of services or a general product description. Think about some of the positive feedback you’ve received from existing clients. This can help you determine what sets you apart from the pack and then emphasize it.
Who Is your Competition?
When looking for a solution to a problem or to purchase a new product, most people will investigate their options. Those “options” are your competitors. It’s important to take an honest look at the competition. What marketing tactics do they employ? Consider their products and services in relation to your own and then figure out your strengths.
For example, do you offer round-the-clock personalized service or faster delivery? If so, and you know that’s what matters to your audience, you’ll want to make sure they’re aware of it.
Conversely, after you study what your competition is doing, you may notice room for improvement in your own business. If so, now is the time to address it.
How to Put a Marketing Strategy Into Action
Your marketing strategy should be like a clearly charted map designed to get you where you want to go. Once you’ve created a marketing plan that includes specific ways to reach your goals, it’s time for action.
For example, if you’ve realized that your target customers are local, consider which avenues to pursue in terms of advertising. Is the local paper the best route? Does the community flock to an online site to gather information? Could you attend a local gathering such as a farmer’s market with a giveaway or novelty item that’s representative of your business to grab their attention?
If you want to increase your visibility with a younger audience, and if you know that price might be a barrier, consider offering student discounts. You’ll definitely need to increase your online presence and take advantage of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram by regularly posting sharable content. Read about how to choose the right social media platform for your business.
From your message and the look of your promotional materials to the level of your customer service and the quality of your product, be consistent. This helps your new and existing customers know exactly what to expect and provides them with confidence and peace of mind.
Just remember, your marketing strategy should be routinely reviewed so you can evaluate what’s working and what needs to be refined. This also allows you the opportunity to respond quickly to fluctuations in customers’ needs as well as any changes that are occurring within your industry. If you need to course-correct, it’s always better to do it sooner rather than later.