At the heart of any business strategy is a marketing strategy
Businesses exist to deliver products that satisfy customers.
Making and using a marketing strategy has a strong positive impact on profitability. This is because small businesses that employ a marketing strategy tend to focus on their customers and markets, integrate their marketing responses and work out in advance where their profits will come from.
A marketing strategy defines objectives and describes the way you're going to satisfy customers in your chosen markets. It does not have to be written down but it is easier to communicate to outsiders, like your bank manager or other investors, when it is.
Marketing Strategies Basics
1. Market Research
Collect, organize, and write down data about the market that is currently buying the product(s) or service(s) you will sell. Some areas to consider:
- Market dynamics, patterns including seasonality
- Customers - demographics, market segment, target markets, needs, buying decisions
- Product - what's out there now, what's the competition offering
- Current sales in the industry
- Benchmarks in the industry
- Suppliers - vendors that you will need to rely on
2. Target Market
Find niche or target markets for your product and describe them.
Describe your product. How does your product relate to the market? What does your market need, what do they currently use, what do they need above and beyond current use?
Describe your competition. Develop your "unique selling proposition." What makes you stand apart from your competition? What is your competition doing about branding?
5. Mission Statement
Write a few sentences that state:
- "Key market" - who you're selling to
- "Contribution" - what you're selling
- "Distinction" - your unique selling proposition
6. Market Strategies
Write down the marketing and promotion strategies that you want to use or at least consider using. Strategies to consider:
- Networking - go where your market is
- Direct marketing - sales letters, brochures, flyers
- Advertising - print media, directories
- Training programs - to increase awareness
- Write articles, give advice, become known as an expert
- Direct/personal selling
- Publicity/press releases
- Trade shows
- Web Site
7. Pricing, Positioning and Branding
From the information you've collected, establish strategies for determining the price of your product, where your product will be positioned in the market and how you will achieve brand awareness.
Budget your dollars. What strategies can you afford? What can you do in house, what do you need to outsource.
9. Marketing Goals
Establish quantifiable marketing goals. This means goals that you can turn into numbers. Your goals might include sales, profits, or customer's satisfaction.
10. Monitor Your Results
Test and analyze. Identify the strategies that are working.
- Survey customers
- Track sales, leads, visitors to your web site, percent of sales to impressions
By researching your markets, your competition, and determining your unique positioning, you are in a much better position to promote and sell your product or service. By establishing goals for your marketing campaign, you can better understand whether or not your efforts are generating results through ongoing review and evaluation of results.
Be sure to use your plan as a living document. Successful marketers continually review the status of their campaigns against their set objectives. This ensures ongoing improvements to your marketing initiatives and helps with future planning.