“Strategy is about setting yourself apart from the competition. It’s not a matter of being better at what you do – it’s a matter of being different at what you do.” – Michael Porter, Economist
What are your goals? What are your company values? What does your company provide? What differentiates your company from your competitors? These are all things you need to consider when developing your strategy.
Task: Create a marketing strategy. That seems easy enough, however, when it comes to developing an effective marketing strategy, there is a lot of effort, thought, and work involved. Anyone can share information on social media, or send emails. But your marketing strategy should involve more than that.
Here are 4 steps to creating an effective marketing strategy.
Step 1: Complete a situation analysis of your company
This involves looking at your company in its entirety. Both from an internal and an external perspective. It’s possible that you may have heard of a SWOT analysis, but if you haven’t, it stands for analyzing your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
The Strengths and Weaknesses refer to the internal aspects of your company – the things you have control over. To analyze your strengths, ask yourself things such as: What are you good at? What differentiates you from your competition? What is your true, competitive advantage? What do your customers like about you?
Weaknesses are harder to analyze, because typically you’re so close to the company or product, making it difficult to really get a good perspective. But you can start by asking yourself questions like: Is the industry or market over saturated with similar products or services? Is my staff qualified to do their jobs to the best of their ability? Does the industry need a product like mine? And so on.
From there, you consider the Opportunities and Threats, which are more external. Meaning you need to consider all of the outside factors that you don’t have immediate control over. Opportunities could be an opening in the market, allowing you better entrance, or there could be a sudden increase in popularity of your industry that can be taken advantage of.
Threats are fairly easy to distinguish. This is anything from strong competition, similar offerings available at a lower price, more marketing and advertising efforts from similar companies, lack of budget, etc.
So, now you’ve completed your SWOT analysis…What do you do with it?
Looking over your analysis, see if there are any connections you can make. How can you convert your weaknesses into strengths? Do your strengths lead you to any new opportunities? What do you need to do internally to take advantage of those opportunities? How do you best neutralize threats?
Step 2: Define your overall business goals
Step 2 falls right into place after creating your SWOT analysis. You’ve spent some time considering all elements, both internal and external, that can affect your business. Now it is time to ensure that you’re really defining what it is you want your company to do. What results are you hoping to get in an ideal situation?
Now take these goals, and apply them to your marketing tactics. How can your marketing objectives help you to reach these goals? What are you trying to accomplish with your marketing plan?
Keep in mind that you may need a few different plans, geared toward different audiences in order to achieve your company goals.
Step 3: Define your ideal target audience
Once you’ve completed a situation analysis and defined your goals, it’s time to consider who your target audience is. Who is going to use your product or service? Who will benefit from your product or service the most?
To do this, start with your ideal customer. Consider all of the aspects of your perfect customer, from what they wear, eat, drive, etc. Then from there, consider the other types of secondary customers that might purchase from you, and define all of their interests as well.
Step 4: Create marketing materials to reach the right target
To create marketing materials that reach the right target, consider the ideal customer(s) you created in step 3. This information is crucial to help you to create targeted advertising. You can develop ads that target people that like the cars, clothes, food, competitors, and other interests that you defined for your ideal customer, and thus, get your message in front of the people most likely to purchase from you.
Consider this example: You sell camping gear. Your primary ideal customer probably loves the outdoors, tents, Patagonia, North Face, drives a Jeep, possibly rock climbs, etc.
You can then create ads that target these interests.
Ex: One ad shows people sitting on a cliff wearing Patagonia and drinking coffee from a Thermos. Another ad shows a couple in their Jeep, wearing North Face, and camping gear seen inside the car.
You can target interests in visuals or text (preferably both), to draw people in to your ad.
Always remember to keep this concept in mind for other formats of marketing, whether it be e-newsletters, direct mail, billboards, or any other way you choose to get in front of your customers.
Know what your product is, know who your customer is, and create pieces that speak to them.
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