Create Your Marketing Strategy

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Developing a marketing strategy is vital for any business. Without one, your efforts to attract customers are likely to be haphazard and inefficient.

The focus of your strategy should be making sure that your products and services meet customer needs and developing long-term and profitable relationships with those customers. To achieve this, you will need to create a flexible strategy that can respond to changes in customer perceptions and demand. It may also help you identify whole new markets that you can successfully target.

The purpose of your marketing strategy should be to identify and then communicate the benefits of your business offering to your target market.

Once you have created and implemented your strategy, monitor its effectiveness and make any adjustments required to maintain its success.

This guide helps you identify which customers to focus on and your key objectives in reaching them. It explains what to include in your marketing strategy and how it can be used as the basis for effective action.

  • Key elements of a successful marketing strategy
  • Understanding your strengths and weaknesses
  • Developing your marketing strategy
  • Tips and pitfalls

KEY ELEMENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL MARKETING STRATEGY

One of the key elements of a successful marketing strategy is the acknowledgement that your existing and potential customers will fall into particulargroups or segments, characterised by their “needs”. Identifying these groups and their needs through market research, and then addressing them more successfully than your competitors, should be the focus of your strategy.

You can then create a marketing strategy that makes the most of your strengths and matches them to the needs of the customers you want to target. For example, if a particular group of customers is looking for quality first and foremost, then any marketing activity aimed at them should draw attention to the high quality service you can provide.

Once this has been completed, decide on the best marketing activity that will ensure your target market know about the products or services you offer, and why they meet their needs.

This could be achieved through various forms of advertising, exhibitions, public relations initiatives, Internet activity and by creating an effective “point of sale” strategy if you rely on others to actually sell your products. Limit your activities to those methods you think will work best, avoiding spreading your budget too thinly.

A key element often overlooked is that of monitoring and evaluating how effective your strategy has been. This control element not only helps you see how the strategy is performing in practice, it can also help inform your future marketing strategy. A simple device is to ask each new customer how they heard about your business.

Once you have decided on your marketing strategy, draw up a marketing plan to set out how you plan to execute and evaluate the success of that strategy. The plan should be constantly reviewed so it can respond quickly to changes in customer needs and attitudes in your industry, and in the broader economic climate.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

Your strategy must take account of how your business’ strengths and weaknesses will affect your marketing.

Begin your marketing strategy document with an honest and rigorous SWOT analysis, looking at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It is a good idea to conduct some market research on your existing customers at this point, as it will help you to build a more honest picture of your reputation in the marketplace.

Strengths could include:

  • personal and flexible customer service
  • special features or benefits that your product offers
  • specialist knowledge or skills

Weaknesses could include:

  • limited financial resources
  • lack of an established reputation
  • inefficient accounting systems

Opportunities could include:

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