Developing and implementing a marketing strategy is a necessary process for a successful business. This process commences as you start your business, and it must remain an on-going process throughout the life of your business
Here are a few points to help you get started:
- What is it that you are offering your customers? Know your product or service – Ensure that your staff are aware of what you are selling.
- Know your competitors’ product or service better than they do. In what ways do their products or services compare better/worse than yours? What trading terms are they offering? Is their location better/worse than yours? What is their pricing structure? How are they adding value to their products?
- Who are your customers? What is the demographics of your customers?
- What is the image that you are trying to present to for your customers?
- Is your market subject to seasonal changes?
- What is your pricing policy? Is it consistent with your need to develop a required gross profit while meeting your customers’ expectations, do you cover your costs and something for future investments?
- Do you know how to promote and advertise your business? Have you decided which advertising medium is suitable for you and your business?
I am presently working with many small business owners, by some of which some of the points are ignored, claimed ignorance or not even in their business sphere of operations. Many business start out with a great idea, do some market research and then run with it without as part of their business model develop a complete marketing strategy. You may make your product, and for the lucky few your customers come to you, but for the majority of us, including Id8 Consulting, we have to continually develop and monitor our business model, marketing plan and identification of who our customers are.
“Marketing is getting the right product or service in the right quantity, to the right place, at the right time and making a profit in the process”.
Marketing is about identifying and understanding your customer and meeting their needs through the use of your products, giving them what they require. Effective marketing is a result of examining every aspect of your business and how it affects the consumer’s end experience. It covers everything you’ll need to do in order to deliver your products and services to the consumer including research, planning, pricing, packaging, promotion, selling and distribution.
Write a successful marketing strategy
A well-developed marketing strategy will help you realise your business’s goals. A good marketing strategy helps you target your products and services to the people most likely to buy them. Developing a marketing strategy that includes the components listed below will help you make the most of your marketing investment, keep your marketing focused, and measure and improve your sales results.
Identify your business goals
To develop your marketing strategy, identify your overarching business goals, so that you can then define a set of marketing goals to support them. Your business goals might include:
- increasing awareness of your products and services
- selling more products from a certain supplier
- reaching a new customer segment.
State your marketing goals
Define a set of specific marketing goals based on the business goals you listed above. These goals will motivate you and your team and help you benchmark your success.
Examples of marketing goals include increased market penetration (selling more existing products to existing customers) or market development (selling existing products to new target markets). These marketing goals could be long-term and might take a few years to successfully achieve. However, they should be clear and measurable and have time frames for achievement.
Make sure your overall strategies are also practical and measurable. A good marketing strategy will not be changed every year, but revised when your strategies have been achieved or your marketing goals have been met. Also, you may need to amend your strategy if your external market changes due to a new competitor or new technology, or if your products substantially change.
The six “Ps”
The following six areas provide a comprehensive framework for developing an effective marketing plan. These areas are often referred to as the “6Ps” or the ‘marketing mix’:
This covers the combination of goods and services that your business offers. It could include the following characteristics of your good or service: quality, variety, design, features, services, warranty, sizes, packaging, brand name and returns
How does the consumer access your product or service? Think about in; distribution channels, coverage, inventory, transportation, logistics and retail outlet location.
What approach will you take to pricing your product? Will you offer discounts or extended payment periods? What credit terms will you set?
How you communicate with your customers. Most businesses use a combination of advertising, personal selling, referrals, sales promotion and public relations
Your staff are the front face of your business. Try to understand your staff in terms of their knowledge, experience, skills, communication, teamwork and attitude
The processes that you use in the day to day operation of your business. This effects your interaction with your customers. Think about the following aspects of business operation: systems, quality control, planning, review, continuous improvement, documentation and feedback channels.
What is market research?
Market research is a key part of developing your marketing strategy. It’s about collecting information to give you an insight into your customer’s mind so that you understand what they want. You can also do market research to get a better idea of market trends and what is happening in your industry sector.
Research your market
Research is an essential part of your marketing strategy. You need to gather information about your market, such as its size, growth, social trends and demographics (population statistics such as age, gender and family type). It is important to keep an eye on your market so you are aware of any changes over time, so your strategy remains relevant and targeted. There are many online sources that can be used, the CSO is a good starting point.
Profile your potential customers
Use your market research to develop a profile of the customers you are targeting and identify their needs. The profile will reveal their buying patterns, including how they buy, where they buy and what they buy. While you try to find new customers, make sure your marketing strategy also allows you to maintain relationships with your existing customers. Current customers are a good basis for research into new customers, your most popular items should under the 80/20 rule be valid with new customers also.
Profile your competitors
Similarly, as part of your marketing strategy you should develop a profile of your competitors by identifying their products, supply chains, pricing and marketing tactics.
Use this to identify your competitive advantage – what sets your business apart from your competitors. You may also want to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your own internal processes to help improve your performance compared with your competition.
Why do I need a marketing plan?
- A successful business operator understands
- What they are offering the customer
- And how it differs from their competitors.
- What are you offering your customers?
The process of developing a marketing plan will help you understand the key benefits and features of your product or service, and how to go about attracting and retaining the right type of customer. The marketing plan is a component of your business plan.
A significant component of your marketing plan involves in depth industry analysis which will help you to segment your target market and appropriately position your business.
A good marketing plan will also provide you with clear objectives so that you can benchmark your achievements and measure the success of your marketing endeavours
Test your ideas
In deciding your tactics, do some online research, test some ideas and approaches on your customers and your staff, and review what works. You will need to choose a number of tactics in order to meet your customers’ needs, reach the customers within your target market and improve your sales results.
Once you have this completed, the loop is complete and you need to start again to address your marketing plan. As the business environment are in a continuous state of flux, you cannot say, hey that’s the plan done, lets run with it for next few years. You need to start again and understand your business model, following on to your various business strategies.