Figuring Out the Right Marketing Strategy Doesn’t Have to Stress You Out
6 Steps in Understanding Marketing Strategy
Does the mere term “marketing strategy” tighten your chest? It doesn’t have to be that way. While there is certainly an art to strategic planning, the foundations that support the creative and marketing tactics are all good, solid, straightforward mechanics. Think of marketing strategy as a prism that you can angle in just the right way to allow you to see where your business/brand stands today, where you want to take it tomorrow, and what marketing tactics will get the results you want for your brand.
So, relax. Streng Agency takes you step-by-step through this article so you can see how the process can be broken down into 6 basic steps to making the magic happen. Oh, and happen it will.
First, Some Marketing Strategy Basics
Okay. So, you don’t want to simply stay in business. You want your business to grow. But let’s say that you’re that odd, weird bird that doesn’t really want your company to grow. You’re happy right where it is. Do both business models need a marketing strategy? You know where this is going, don’t you?
All companies must convert prospective sales to closed sales. All companies must have an influx of fresh, new sales as the older ones age out. That means that to be able to even tread water and hold the status quo, much less grow a business, every business needs good marketing strategy.
How a company attracts potential customers to its business and products is the essence of marketing strategy.
Your strategic planning may include multiple strategies that use a broad spectrum of marketing tactics: classic networking, digital media, traditional print advertising, TV, radio, direct mail, etc. There’s no need to let all those moving parts dazzle you into paralysis.
Today’s marketing strategy tools are designed for clear, understandable evaluation. Your strategic marketing planner can lay it all out before you, so you can see in near-real time which marketing strategy is producing, which one is lagging or dead-on-arrival, and how to make the right adjustments for optimal results.
6 Steps to Understanding Marketing Strategy
1. Situation Analysis
Sound strategic planning begins before you even start mapping out the plan. You consider where your company presently sits. Maybe your business meets revenue goals well enough, but you want to scale up or delve into a new market.
Or what if your business isn’t meeting its goals? You need to make a brutally honest assessment of why the company is stalled. For example, there is no marketing strategy in the world that can help you if your sales team, the heart that pumps the lifeblood through the company, feels unmotivated or is poorly trained.
So, marketing strategy begins with getting your house in order through situation analysis. This analysis also applies to product definition and how it relates to demographic specifics.
The majority of the info you need for this housekeeping can be found in your present business plan and updated data reports. If it isn’t, it’s time to call in the SWOT team. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. A meeting should be held so you can ferret out any problems and take the proper steps toward a remedy. Be brutally honest about what doesn’t work. Drop any false modesty about what does work and stand these two elements side by side for a good, close examination. You and everyone in your business should be crystal clear on makes your company, your people, and your product or service exceptional.
Another part of this initial housekeeping is determining dependencies and risks.
Outline potential risks right from the start. You want as clear a view in front of you as you can get. Granted, not every “what if” can be predicted in any marketing strategy, no matter how well-plotted. But every “what is” can.
So frankly assessing what is right in front of you and determining to best of your ability what may be in store will give your business a big advantage in staying fleet of foot in adapting to changes or shortcomings as they happen.
2. Define the Ideal Customer
Ever hear a business owner say, “Everybody’s my customer”? It sounds great. But is it true? No, not even when it comes to products and services with the broadest appeal or that serve the widest need.
Think about it. If that was true, why are there over 10 brands of toilet paper marketed in the U.S. alone? The business owner who believes in a broad marketing strategy is, frankly, destined to fail sooner or later.
Demographic studies have shown conclusively that some consumers buy differently than others, even when businesses are selling a basically identical product.
Today, that’s truer than ever. Younger consumers react to more favorably to text and digital ads, while older consumers stick with more traditional habits in purchasing.
Sound marketing strategy means you must put in the time and effort to define your ideal customer. Strategic planning must take into account age, gender, family/marital status, and financial status. The consumer group you are after has many brands tugging at its wallet not just yours.
When you have a well-strategized consumer profile mapped out, you have a framework that allows you to define how your product or service solves a need or desire for those who fit that profile.
3. Establish Marketing Goals
Here’s the bottom line when it comes to strategic planning. Marketing should lead to sales. Period. When you don’t complicate the point of your marketing strategy, the focus becomes laser-focused on how your efforts will improve revenue.
Likewise, marketing goals should be very specific, allowing you to accurately gauge the success of your strategy. A time frame should be set, along with timeline markers to measure progress. The markers help track that progress and enable you to react and adjust your strategy as needed.
4. Select Marketing Tools
Now you’ve assessed your company’s current situation, have an excellent bead on who your target customer is, mapped out sound goals, and set up a working time frame to get you there. Time for the next step in good marketing strategy: determining your marketing tactics.
There are many tactics, traditional and otherwise, that any strategic marketing planner worth his/her salt knows how to customize and apply to your business.
Likewise, your strategic planner should determine the sweet spot when it comes to “touches.”
A touch is any element of marketing strategy that comes into direct contact with a potential customer; a text, email, or direct mail, for example.
Understanding how to utilize both cold and warm lead-generating techniques is equally important. Social media advertising comes heavily into play here. This is because social media can so accurately target specific demographics. It also allows for easy adjustments in ad frequency.
Ah, the 800# gorilla in the room. Everybody knows you want to get this right. Does that really need to be said? So, don’t kid yourself. Effective marketing strategy costs money and thinking you can get fantastic results on the cheap is like expecting a 5-star dining experience at the drive-through window. When it comes to strategy and tactical execution, you get what you pay for.
Of course, no marketing strategy should turn black ink to red. You should expect value and results that increase your bottom line, not deplete it. But a sound and realistic budget can be planned based on the 4 previous elements.
Your budget should have enough flexibility built in to allow for adjustments, and you want to make sure to move money away from campaigns that don’t bear fruit.
But you do need to build in a timeline that allows your strategic planning to do its remarkable magic. Remember that marketing strategy is a broad process that entails goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics. It’s not an instant fix. Strategic planning is marketing that wins the long game for your business.
6. Expect the Occasional Stumble
You should anticipate a shortfall here or there. All strategic planning has them, especially early on as you shape and tweak your marketing strategy. So don’t let this panic you or take you by sur