“Strategy requires thought. Tactics require observation.”
A lot of people start their marketing efforts with a plan without every considering the overarching strategy that they’re trying to employ. That’s like going into battle with your tactics worked out, but not having some kind of idea worked out for what the whole army is supposed to do or – for that matter – what is a victory and what is a defeat.
You need a good marketing strategy as this will give you a far better idea of what you’re actually trying to do in your plan. From there the plan flows out almost automatically. If on the other hand, you decide to skip this step then there is good chance your individual plans will not hang together and your marketing will seem disjointed and ill-formed.
So how do you build a marketing strategy?
From the ground up
The first step to having a good marketing strategy is knowing who you’re going to sell to. As you no doubt have been told since you were young you can’t please all the people all the time. That’s just as true in marketing as it is elsewhere. If you ignore that, then you’ll create a ‘meh’ response across the board instead of creating true excitement anywhere.
And that amounts to damning yourself with faint praise.
For that reason, the first thing you want to establish is who you’re actually marking to. And to be able to figure that out you have to find out who is actually interested in your product. Now, if you’ve been in the market for a while you might already have a good idea who these people are. After all, you’ve probably already collected information about your customers. (If you haven’t, that’s a good place to start. Perhaps send out a questionnaire in return for some kind of prize. There is a lot of good software out there to create software. Survey Monkey, for example, is a good place to start.)
Some things you’ll definitely want to know are the sex, age range, location, socio-economic status and interests of your group. Of course, you don’t want to go overboard on your survey as then people won’t respond. Start out with the basic questions and then use other surveys and questionnaires to delve deeper. You can even do some phone interviews.
Lots of competition? Then you’ll want to thin slice
The more you know about your audience, the easier it is to get them excited. Therefore, sometimes less is more. With that, I mean that you really explore a specific niche that you want to aim your marketing efforts at.
This is what Apple does very intelligently. They’ve focused their laptops on a group you can refer to as the ‘premium ultramobiles’. This means that they actually sell very few laptops but that the markup per laptop is huge. In this way, their laptops are still huge cash cows.
The reason is that by focusing exclusively on this small group, they can make sure their product is perfect for them while also aiming their marketing at them exclusively. In this way, they create a huge amount of excitement which they can couple with a large markup for their products.
If you are trying to penetrate into a market where there is a lot of competition, this is the strategy you’ll want to pursue as this is the way you can still become dominant there – even if it’s not the entire market for your product.
One warning: When finding out which sub-niche to aim your product at, make sure that the niche is actually big enough to sustain your company.
Start with your audience then create campaigns and events aimed towards them
Now that you know who you’re targeting, you’ll want to figure out how to get them to buy your products. That means creating all sorts of events and marketing campaigns that you will believe will interest them.
You’ll be tempted to put the cart in front of the horse. You’ll think of an event and then decide if your audience will like them. That is the wrong way around. You always want to start with your audience and what they like and then create events around those likes.
A good strategy is to see what has and hasn’t worked for your frenemies. These are people in similar markets to yourself but not the same one. Find companies that are targeted at a very similar market to your own and see what they’ve done and what was successful.
The best place to start is by looking at successful campaigns or ideas that such companies have launched in the past. From their strategies and ideas, you’ll be able to figure out some comparable ideas that you can run.
Also, don’t be afraid to look at ideas they ran a couple of years ago. The good thing about these strategies is that they’ll have faded at least a little bit from the collective conscious. In this way, when you try them they’ll once again seem novel.
And finally, remember that you don’t have to like it. This is a mistake a lot of business leaders make. They think that their taste is a stand-in for their customer’s taste. That can only be true if you are part of your customer group. If you’re not (for example you’re a middle-aged businessman and you’re marketing to young women), the best way to find out if your customers would like something is to show it to them.
Of course, you don’t want to hate it. But even if you’re indifferent that doesn’t mean it won’t be a good campaign.
Trial runs and statistics
The internet allows us to do something that wasn’t possible in previous marketing efforts and that is to receive immediate feedback on campaigns and events that we launch even as we’re launching them. This allows you to trail run ideas very easily.
For example, one great strategy for a new service that you’re considering running is to simply whip up some copy through something, put it online and to see how much interest there is. Instead of pointing these ads towards an actual existing product, they point to a page where people can register by email for the product once it comes out.
Then, based on the feedback (how many people clicked through, how many people signed up) you’ll have a good idea if creating that product or offering that service would actually be a good idea. And that at the cost of only a few hundred dollars at most.
Use what you’re learning on the ground to feedback into your strategy
You know that saying “No plan survives contact with the enemy” by Helmuth von Moltke? It’s not quite that bad for marketing (and your customers are not the enemy), but there is nonetheless a grain of truth to it.
You’ll always want to make sure that what you learn on the ground is fed back into your actual marketing campaign. Is your understanding of your customers evolving? Then that needs to go back into making sure that your campaign is actually aimed at them. Maybe miscommunication happens when you and your customers speak in different languages, in this case, use The Word Point services for business.
Do the statics reveal that an interest you thought people had isn’t one they actually do? Well, then you’ll have to refocus your efforts.
In this way, you’ll hone your marketing and make it even more effective. That will give you more bang for your buck and hopefully ever more market share. And in that way, your understanding will grow and your business along with it.
There is no marketing strategy which will suit all businesses. And it can’t exist, because every idea, every company, every leader are so different. But taking advice from senior and experienced comrades and tips in this article as well into consideration, you will clearly understand what exactly your business needs and how to get it through the marketing strategy.
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