Your marketing strategy is how you are going to market your products and services to customers, and how you are going to reach your prospects. But just like a game of chess, it is important that your strategy is flexible able to adapt to surrounding changes, so you can still achieve your goals.
Before you begin your marketing strategy, it is vital that you carry out research to analyse these three areas:
- Company analysis: work out what your overall business objectives are. Think about where you would like to be with your business this time next year, in five years, and in the even further future. You then need to work out how you can achieve these objectives. Work out what your company’s strengths and weaknesses are, and from this you can set your main goals. Carry out a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats).
- Market analysis: think about your market – how quickly it is growing and who your customers are. What marketing techniques will work most effectively for your customers? For example, if you had a toy shop, you would want your advertisements to be fun to encourage children and families to come in. Simple!
- Competitor analysis: it is important to see how you compare with your competitors based on who their customers are, what their prices are, exactly what they offer, and how they market their business.
Your product or service
You now need to evaluate what your products and services are, and how you are going to promote them to your target market. You must examine your USPs and what benefits they provide to your customers. Look from the customer’s point of view at what they see in your business. Then, look at the strategies you are going to use to communicate the benefits of your products and services to your customers.
The marketing mix
Work out how you are going to market your products and services through each marketing tool:
- Word of mouth
- Distribution channels
- Pricing and costs
- Promotional offers
In a nutshell, these are product, placing, pricing and promotion.
The marketing plan
Your marketing plan consists of how you are going to execute your marketing strategy. It ensures that you and your staff know what the business is aiming to achieve and how to make that happen.
An effective marketing plan has clear objectives with budgets and deadlines. By setting budgets and deadlines, you are more likely to commit to achieving. Your objectives should be specific and measurable to help you reach your goals, such as increasing profits by a certain percentage. This is much longer and much more detailed than the strategy.
It is important that your marketing plan sets out when and how you will achieve your objectives and goals. You must also consider changes in factors that can affect your plan such as market and economic conditions, and be ready to adapt to these changes.
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