What Is A Marketing Strategy?
Any culmination of activities, whether online or offline, that helps a business to move closer to its short term or long-term strategic sales goals are part of its marketing strategy. It includes a thorough evaluation of the market dynamics, demographics and competitive environment of any industry or niche prior to creating an overall plan of action.
Overall, the plan is developed by not only scanning the external factors outside of the business, but also the internal factors as well.
Building a marketing strategy requires a deep understanding of your business, competitors, customers, and market.
- Define your customer. What target market are you trying to reach? What demographics do they have in common? What problems are they facing, and what values impact their purchasing decisions? Understanding who you are speaking to and what they need is key to creating an effective marketing message.
- Know your products. Spend time articulating the benefits of your products in addition to the features. How will they make a difference in someone’s life? Why does that matter to your customers? The most effective marketing speaks to the emotions of consumers, and that connection is created when you can articulate the benefit your business provides.
- Research the competition. If you want customers to become loyal to your business, you need to stand out in your market. Take time to learn about your competition and decide how you will differentiate yourself. Consider price, quality, location, service, accessibility, values, and lifestyle. What will be most important to your target customers?
- Write your USP. Use the information you’ve gathered about your customers, products, and competition to create a unique selling proposition . This is a compelling sentence that describes the essence of your business, focusing on who you serve, what benefit you provide, and why you are the best business to provide that benefit. Your USP, also known as your value proposition, will guide all of your messaging, branding, and other marketing efforts.
- Outline your resources. A budget will ensure that your team follows through on the market roadmap to reach important goals, and having a clear idea of your available budget will ensure that your marketing doesn’t send you into debt. But money isn’t your only resource. The skills your team has (such as writing or public speaking) and personal connections (such as contacts in the media) can all be put towards building a marketing strategy.
- Define your marketing methods. Once you understand your customers, market, and resources, choose the marketing mix that will most effectively promote your business and share your USP. How can you show customers the value of your products or services and persuade them to make a purchase? Will direct mail, online advertising, SEO, TV ads, or trade shows be an effective way to reach customers? What strategies are your competitors using? Will any of those work for you, or do you need different marketing tools?
How to Update Your Marketing Strategy
A good marketing strategy needs to grow and evolve over time, keeping up with changes in both your market and your business. Plan to revisit your marketing strategy at least once every quarter to find out if you are achieving your goals within your available resources. Ask yourself:
- Do you have the same leads and business opportunities as when you launched your products or services? You may need to create new systems that will allow you to attract more customers with less effort or take advantage of new connections within your industry.
- Is your market changing? Has it expanded or receded, and how is that impacting your business and clients? You may need to reevaluate either your ideal customer or your competition to see if you are still effectively positioned within your market.
- Are any of your marketing activities working well? Can you trace any new clients or sales to them? Identify which strategies are and are not working. If any of them are not working, which new strategies do you want to try?
- Are your products or services making the expected revenue? Are they costing more to produce or provide than what they bring in? You may need to adapt your budget or price to create a sustainable business model.
- Do you need to adapt or change your sales tactics? And what is the best timeframe to take action? Now? Next quarter? The following year? Sales tactics are part of your marketing plan and should always reflect the same USP and customer values as your other messaging.
As your customers, market, and competitors change over time, your marketing plans should change and evolve too. When you regularly examine and update your marketing strategy to meet both the needs of your company and your customers, your business can continue to grow