Why is a marketing strategy the most powerful tool for developing business? The straight-forward response is that a good marketing strategy will address current challenges and map out paths by which a business can increase in the future. It will audit a business’s brand and message but is not limited to branding alone. Rather, a marketing plan is a mixture of the big picture and detail analysis which incorporates a broad assortment of marketing channels tailored to that business’s business, market, and price range. Nearly all marketing strategies I compose for smaller businesses include a large number of items which can be performed at no cost by current in-house employees, leading to a plan which won’t result in a fortune spent. In actuality, a great marketing strategy is an investment in saving money since it targets a business’s efforts and helps prevent waste.
At this time I want to qualify my previous statement; the best money spent in marketing is a smart marketing strategy written by a skilled marketer on behalf of a particular business, not something sketched out with a rep in an agency shop (believe printer or internet firm) or by a generic,’ small business plan’ checklist. For a marketing strategy to be truly successful, it has to be a customized effort between research, analysis and a careful fitting of chances with the business’s budget and resources. This may never be a fast or off the shelf attempt – an intelligent marketing strategy takes a while to develop properly. My typically take less than a month and are normally under $2,000.
It’s important to bear in mind that while an intelligent marketing strategy will not induce a business beyond its way, it is going to present a mixture of opportunities that satisfy immediate targets and show paths for expansion. A marketing strategy’s benefit is that it paints a picture of a business, highlights who the business is targeting focuses its marketing budget, and develops a program for reaching out to buyers. It accomplishes this in 7 Important ways:
1. Develops Brand & Message
A brand is simply a business’s public appearance and message. Businesses all have the start of a brand – an official name – and a few have taken steps to recognize a logo, tagline, and perhaps an overall colour scheme or style manual. In smaller businesses, these are often a reflection of the owner’s personal preference instead of an evaluation of the industry and targeted buyers (years ago I had a customer who picked her corporation’s colour scheme from her kitchen wall’s paint chip). They might be due to a family brainstorming attempt or an operator’s flash of inspiration. Sometimes they’re geographically influenced or an effort at gimmickry. The point is that while it is rare to discover a small business that acquired its name, logo, and message as the result of authentic market research, it is a universal rule that, for bad or good, small businesses will refer to those items as their business’s brand.
And this is where a marketing strategy measures in. An intelligent marketing strategy will completely evaluate a business’s brand through unbiased and experienced eyes. The marketer isn’t (hopefully) a part of their family and probably has not seen the kitchen’s walls. Rather, an experienced marketer will audit the brand as both a buyer and a marketer, and assess its capability to rapidly convey the business’s narrative, whether it targets the suitable buyer, and if it’s unique enough within the market to establish the business apart from the competition. The marketing strategy will highlight any brand challenges, inconsistencies, or flaws before suggesting improvements and alterations.
Regrettably, ‘brand’ appears to be a point where many little businesses abandon their strategic efforts. A business’s brand is vital and well worth a hefty effort, but branding’ is not enough of an action item to cultivate a business and is not where an intelligent strategy ends…
2. Profiles Buyers & Marketplace
It might be difficult to fathom but there are small businesses that face each year without knowing much about their particular market and the most buyers upon which their livelihoods depend. As a marketer, it disturbs me how any business can hang its shingle without taking the time to evaluate who it will sell to and from whom it will grab market share. Questions such as, “how many buyers are out there?”, “How can they like to be attained?” and, “who am I competing against?” Are fundamental to business success as it’s only through this understanding that a firm can grow and adapt. The only way to make this profile is through research!
I begin by pulling information directly from my customers through a combination of interviews and surveys full of carefully crafted questions. I will ask then re-ask until I have developed a comprehensive profile from my client’s perspective. My job then turns to create a customer profile by a marketing standpoint that stems from my customer’s high-level buyer description. I will dig and research until my profile is done, then compare my profile with that of my customer’s. Hopefully, we are in synch, but if not, I’ll point out where we disagree and evaluate where my customer can hone their efforts.
At this time I’ll also need to check at the market from my buyer profile point of view, and will”store” the competition. I’ll take a look at the business’s geographic reach and explore both demographic information and local economic development plans. All this data will play to the last test of whether my client should continue in its present market or branch out into a place that’s buyer-rich.
3. Evaluates Competition
“Who is my competition and how do we disagree?” That is a question every business owner should be able to answer at any given time! Business owners should know about who’s snagging market share from them and how each competitor contrasts in quality, services, customer support, messaging, and general marketing efforts. It is wonderful to be the best service provider available, but that will not mean anything if the contest is registering more buyers!
With this point in a marketing plan, I love to shop the contest from a purchaser’s perspective before comparing my findings to my “customer shop”. Since I am an outside consultant, it is fairly easy for me to presume that an unbiased purchaser’s approach to many shopping efforts, be it B to B or B to C, and I search for effortless shopping scenarios, who could meet my client requirements, would tempt me to make a purchase or conversely would turn me off as a buyer. I use these results to indicate ways my customer could enhance his or own business’s message and also to…
4. Finds Internal & Low Price Choices
Many businesses have low cost and free marketing choices already at their disposal and might not realize it. A fantastic marketing strategy reviews a business’s internal choices, evaluates the business as a whole, and also find resources which may be utilised in the marketing program. I love to empower my clients and allow them to save their funds for larger ticket items later on.
5. Designs 1 – 5 Years Marketing Plan
I wrap up every marketing strategy with a 1 year, month by month, marketing program. This marketing plan lists carefully selected marketing campaigns determined from the plan and provide a schedule for when they ought to be launched and assessed. For smaller businesses, I try to stick to the low-cost alternatives that can be kept internally with discretionary attempts that may cost more money or should occur after an early goal was achieved. More expensive or involved chances are usually reserved for a 2-5 year plan and are determined by achieving goals.