Let us look at the key steps to follow when crafting a competitive, well-informed marketing strategy for your business, and to help in developing a workable marketing plan. Marketing strategy is your approach to achieve a competitive advantage, and the marketing plan is the activities that will help you to achieve your marketing goals. Simply put, a marketing strategy is the “what,” and a marketing plan is the “how.” Marketing strategy is an organisation’s overall game plan for attracting customers by communicating the benefits of their business and the key differentiators. It is the big picture of how company’s vision is going to be achieved with the help of the marketing plan. The plan addresses the vital question of what tactics are going to be used to bring the strategy to life.
Start with the SWOT Analysis
Start with the SWOT Analysis to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your business. It is important to start with a clear view on what you are best at, and what areas you need to improve on. By identifying the external factors that represent the motivation for your business to exist, and factors that have the potential to put your business at risk, will prepare you with the right tool kit to build a well-informed and workable marketing strategy.
Develop a Value Proposition
A good marketing strategy is always derived from the company’s value proposition, and this is not created from the scratch. Value proposition is developed based on the main strengths of the company (Strengths identified in the SWOT Analysis), and its differentiators against the competition. Deciding on the value proposition is the first and the most important step as it is a critical factor which helps in closing the sale. Hence, it is important to invest more time and resources in determining the value proposition.
The steps involved are:
- identification of the main customer benefits
- identification of value your products and services bring to the customer, and
- outlining the key differentiators. Value propositions should be clear, to the point, and it should focus on solving customers’ problems.
Develop specific Marketing Strategy Objectives
The marketing goals of organisations have to be communicated as clear objectives. Objectives specify measurable outcomes that will be achieved within a particular time frame. These achievements will help the organisation to evaluate the success and effectiveness of a particular marketing strategy. They help the marketers to align expectations and plans, coordinate efforts, and hold teams accountable for achieving the desired results. When putting together the key objectives (look at 3 to 5 objectives), ensure they meet the following criteria: they are specific, measurable, and have a definite time frame. Evaluate them every six months, make changes if needed, and use them to measure success.
Know your Customers
For taking care of the needs of the customers and solving their problems through our marketing strategy, we need to understand the customers fully. Customer centricity is the core of marketing, and the strategy should fundamentally align company’s products and services with the wants and needs of its customers. For getting to know them, marketers rely less on traditional market research methods such as surveys or focus groups, and give more attention to smart online platforms and tools that tell them everything about their customers’ demographics, online behaviours and conversations.
Define your Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are generalised representations of your most ideal customers. These help marketers to understand customers better, and get closer to them. For creating buyer personas, gather insights from different sources such as website analytics, social media channels, customer reviews, and actual conversations with prospects and customers. This will give you a clear idea on your customers and useful insights on them. When researching for building personas, look into their background, preferences, demographics, and based on that, decide on the most appropriate way to communicate with them, the channels they prefer, and the style, tone of voice, etc.
Do a Market & Competitive Analysis
A clever marketing strategy is a “business game plan” which helps a company to flourish and stand out from its competition. But to get there, you need to have expert knowledge on what is happening in your market, and how your competitors doing. You should clear answers on: What are their real struggles? What is working for them and helping them? What are their weak links?
Information is power, and you need it for developing a highly focused marketing strategy. You have to compile the necessary information by answering all questions given above and learning about the competition. Keep your eyes and ears open for what is happening in your industry which is vital in identifying gaps in the market, needs that are not being fulfilled, common frustrations, or new trends and innovative ideas.
Decide on the best Marketing Methods
Depending on the target audience, you will need to pick the best marketing methods to inform, explain and communicate your brand message. Understand your audience well by knowing where they live, which social media channel they prefer, which blogs, sites, forums they refer, and use that information to reach them. It is also very important to plan on the marketing areas you will focus the attention, and how much time and budget you will be spending on advertising, public relations, digital marketing and communication, events, etc. depending on the nature of the business, and what would appeal to your potential customers.