Developing and implementing a strategy that helps your product sell is an aspiration for many businesses. A good marketing strategy ends up targeting the right audiences in a way that gets them thinking about your brand. As a result, your stores and website begin to experience more traffic and sales increase.
But a good, truly effective marketing strategy will drive demand for years to come. Target audiences will realize a need they didn’t know they had. Your brand becomes the first thing people think of when considering your product or service category.
Big names like Coca-Cola, Campbell’s and Disney didn’t rise to the top by chance. Sound planning, execution and analysis have identified ways to reach high-potential market segments while differentiate the brand sufficient to protect it from competition. If you want your business to achieve household name status, you’ll have to follow suit.
There is no single approach to marketing strategies or a set of tactics that will work for all businesses. However, you can try different methods, measure the results, and make adjustments as you go. Here are some ways to start turning your strategic marketing ideas into realities.
1. Review previous strategies
Almost everyone has heard the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. That might be sound advice, but sometimes companies are too willing to live with strategies that are broken. Good marketing strategies start with a thorough understanding of what has worked in the past and what hasn’t. All methods contain pros and cons or strengths and weaknesses, and determining these is essential to success.
Perhaps previous research has suggested that messages emphasizing lower prices than your competitors would resonate with your audience. Although this message got people in the door, it did not stop them from leaving. Determine triggers or pain points those lower prices are only half the battle. You also need to identify and understand the pain points that caused those same customers to stop buying.
By Analyzing what went well with a strategy and what missed the mark, you’ll discover new approaches to try. Maybe price isn’t a strong enough differentiator. You may find that you are targeting the wrong market segments for your brand. Or you might come to the conclusion that your message lacks a central theme, causing confusion about what your business stands for.
Also, even if you’re not a marketing genius, read content specific to your niche. For example, if you are a lawyer, find a SEO book for law firms or if you are a real estate agent, find a social media book for real estate agents. Just because marketing isn’t your area of expertise doesn’t mean you shouldn’t understand the strategies commonly used in your industry. Once you’ve learned from previous strategies, focus on what you can do in the future to be different.
2. Focus on originality
Businesses generally don’t succeed by blending in with the crowd. Companies must find ways to stand out, even if what is sold becomes a commodity. In-depth marketing strategies include product and brand positioning. This is usually included in a marketing plan as a single positioning statement.
While a positioning statement communicates how you want your target audience to perceive your brand, it’s also based on originality. This statement says what distinguishes your brand of similar products and services. Positioning helps explain why consumers should buy from you, not just once, but again and again.
Refining what makes your brand unique isn’t enough to elevate your previous marketing strategy. Your target audience is unlikely to have a compelling reason to stick around if you’re simply extending a low-cost strategy to additional products. Instead, you need to build a story that appeals to the emotional and subjective reasons why your brand is different.
Ideally, these reasons align with the values and lifestyles of your target audience. Some market segments don’t continue to buy a company’s specialty coffee because they need a caffeine buzz. They buy an experience that includes personalized service, a café atmosphere and a sense of exclusivity. These market segments may also revolve around corporate social responsibility and community outreach efforts.
3. Create your game plan
Ideas become reality by outlining the steps you will take to reach the goal line. Creating the game plan for your marketing strategy works the same way. You’ll want to bring your team together to work out realistic ways to achieve your goals. Many companies use SMART goalsspecific, measurable and time-bound.
For example, the main objective of your strategy is to increase market share. By itself, however, this goal is too broad and doesn’t provide enough direction for your team. Instead, you can narrow it down by including percentages, timeframes, and audience segments. Your revised goal might indicate that you want to increase your market share by 10% over the next year in two sales regions.
You can also add that you plan reach this goal using a combination of social media, direct mail, traditional advertisements and email blasts. Let your team tell you if the goals are reasonable and if there is enough bandwidth for implementation. Perhaps the 10% growth target is not achievable given current numbers and competitor activity. However, 5% may be a realistic target based on your data.
4. Implement the strategy
The only way to know if something will work is to do it. Spending too much time in the ideation phase can cause strategies to lose their relevance. But achieving your plan doesn’t mean you’re done. During implementation, it is important to measure the performance of your strategy and make timely adjustments if necessary.
If consumers aren’t reacting to your brand story as you’d hoped, ask frontline staff. Collect customer feedback through employees in sales and service positions, in addition to information from consumer surveys and ratings. While you can take comments with a grain of salt, look for similarities and common themes that indicate where the problem lies. Don’t ignore or dismiss comments because of internal biases.
Designing and implementing effective marketing strategies takes practice. And successful formulas don’t always stick, as consumers and market forces change. Nevertheless, thorough analysis, original ideas based on public sentiment, and the implementation of a solid game plan can help you achieve a successful marketing vision.