Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a one person home-based business, to be successful you must have a sound marketing strategy. You also need to implement the associated actions consistently. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune and you don’t have to be a creative genius.
The key is developing a marketing strategy that forms a solid foundation for your promotional efforts and development of your marketing collateral. Without a marketing strategy is like sailing a boat without a rudder and expecting to be able to manage the prevailing winds.Implementing activities such as website development, social media, advertising, public relations, email, networking and even one-to-one sales efforts, is critical.
Before you ever consider developing a brochure, running an ad, implementing a marketing campaign, joining an organisation, networking or even conducting a sales call, begin by mapping a path to success. A well developed and focused marketing strategy is the first step. You can develop a strong strategy foundation for your marketing by:
Clearly defining your products and services before strategy
How is your product or service packaged? What is it that your customers are really buying? Many are buying solutions to their frustrations, problems, wants and needs. You may be selling web-based software tools but your clients are buying increased productivity, improved efficiency and cost savings. If you offer several products or services which ones are the most viable to promote?
Identifying your target market and the segents you will address
Everyone or anybody might be potential clients for your products and services. However, you probably don’t have the time or money to market to everyone or anybody. Who is your ideal customer, the old saying “spray and pray” doesn’t work any more? Who does it make sense for you to spend your time and money promoting your service to? What market segments will give you the highest returns? You might define your ideal customer in terms of income, age, geographic area, number of employees, revenues, industry and so on.
Finding your niche is a good strategy for smaller businesses
Is there a niche in your market segments that is not currently being served, or is not being served well? A niche strategy allows you to focus your marketing efforts and dominate, even if you are a small player.
Developing awareness in your market
It is difficult for a potential client to buy your product or service if they don’t even know or remember it exists. Generally a potential customer will have to be exposed to your product 5 to 15 times before they are likely to think of your product when their want or need arises. Wants and needs often arise unexpectedly, therefore you must stay in front of your clients consistently if they are going to remember your product.
Building credibility is an important strategy
Not only must clients be aware of your product or service, they also must have a positive disposition toward it. Potential customers must trust that you will deliver what you say you will. Often, especially with large or risky purchases, you need to give them the opportunity to “sample”, “touch”, or “taste” the product in some way. You might try moving ‘the free line’ in order to allow clients to sample what you are offering, without being pressured.
Being consistent from pre-sale to after sale service
Be consistent in every way and in everything you do. This includes the look of your marketing collateral, the content and messages you deliver, the level of customer service, and the quality of the product or service. Being consistent is more important than having the “best” product. This in part is the reason for the success of chains and franchises. Take time to analyse you value chain to improve its ability and capacity to be consistent.
Knowing your competition
Even if there are no direct competitors for your service, there is always competition of some kind. Something besides your product is competing for the potential client’s money, or a ‘piece of the wallet’ as some call it. What is it and why should the potential customer spend their money with you? What is your competitive advantage and what is your unique selling proposition (USP)?
Maintaining your strategy focus
Focus allows for more effective utilisation of your scarce resources of time and money. Your promotional budget will bring you greater return if you use it to promote a narrowly focused product line, or defined target market. If you promote that same product to that same market segments continuously, more porfitable results should be forthcoming.
Become action orientated if you expect to implement your strategy
A body at rest, tends to stay at rest. It’s no good having the best strategies in the world if the action steps for implementation are not carried out. Instill a high level of action orientation and awareness into your organisation and watch for the improving outcomes. A key action is to endure all your content matches your strategy.