Business people discussing analytics
Developing and implementing a strategy that helps your product sell itself is an aspiration for many businesses. A good marketing strategy ends up targeting the right audiences in ways that get them thinking about your brand. As a result, your stores and website start to experience more traffic, and sales inch up.
But a great marketing strategy—one that’s really effective—will stimulate 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 about when they consider your product or service category.
Household names like Coca-Cola, Campbell’s and Disney didn’t just rise to the top by chance. Savvy planning, execution and analysis identified ways to reach high-potential market segments while differentiating the brand enough to shield it from the competition. If you want your business to reach household name status, you will need to follow suit.
There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing strategies or a set of tactics that will work for every business. However, you can try out different methods, measure the results and make adjustments as you go. Here are some ways you can start turning your strategic marketing ideas into realities.
1. Review Previous Strategies
Nearly everyone’s heard the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That may be sensible advice, but sometimes businesses are too willing to live with strategies that are broke. Great marketing strategies begin with thoroughly understanding what’s worked in the past and what hasn’t. All methods contain pros and cons or strengths and weaknesses, and determining what those are is essential to success.
Maybe prior research suggested messaging that emphasized lower prices than your competition would resonate with your audience. While that message got people in the door, though, it didn’t stop them from leaving. Figuring out the triggers or pain points those lower prices spoke to is only half the battle. You also need to identify and understand what pain points made those same customers stop purchasing.
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 might find that you’re going after the wrong market segments for your brand. Or you could reach the conclusion that your messaging doesn’t have a central theme, causing confusion about what your company stands for.
Also, even if you aren’t a marketing genius read content that is specific to your niche. For example, if you are an attorney find a SEO book for law firms or of you are are a realtor find a social media book for realtors. Just because marketing isn’t your expertise doesn’t mean you shouldn’t understand commonly used strategies in your industry. Once you learn from the previous strategies, then focus on what you can do in the future to be different.
2. Build on Originality
Companies don’t usually achieve success by blending in with the crowd. Businesses have to find ways to stand out, even if what’s being sold becomes a commodity. Thorough 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 sets your brand apart from similar products and services. Positioning helps outline why consumers should buy from you—not just once, but over and over again.
Honing in on what makes your brand unique involves more than taking your previous marketing strategy up a notch. It’s unlikely your target audience will have a compelling reason to stick around if you simply expand a low-price strategy to additional products. Instead, you have to build a story that appeals to the emotional and subjective reasons your brand is different.
Ideally, those reasons match the values and lifestyles of your target audience. Certain market segments don’t continue to buy a company’s specialty coffee because they need a caffeine buzz. They’re buying an experience that includes personalized service, a coffee house atmosphere and a sense of exclusivity. These market segments may also gravitate toward the company’s social responsibility and community outreach efforts.
3. Create Your Game Plan
Ideas become realities by outlining the steps you’re going to take to get over the goal line. Creating the game plan for your marketing strategy works the same way. You’ll want to get your team together to define realistic ways to accomplish your aims. Many businesses use SMART objectives, which are specific, measurable and have a time limit.
For example, the main goal 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, timelines and audience segments. Your revised goal could state you want to increase market share by 10% over the next year within two sales regions.
You can also add that you plan on achieving this goal by using a combination of social media, direct mail, traditional ads and email blasts. Let your team give feedback on whether the objectives are reasonable and whether there’s enough bandwidth for implementation. Maybe the 10% growth goal isn’t 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’s going to work is to do it. Spending too much time in the ideation phase can lead to strategies losing their relevance. But carrying out your plan doesn’t mean you’re done. During implementation, it’s important to measure how your strategy is performing and make timely adjustments where needed.
If consumers aren’t responding to your brand’s story like you hoped, survey staff on the front lines. Collect customer feedback through employees in sales and service roles, in addition to information from consumer surveys and reviews. While you can take some feedback with a grain of salt, look for similarities and common themes that indicate where the problem lies. Don’t ignore or dismiss feedback due to internal biases.
Designing and implementing effective marketing strategies takes practice. And successful formulas don’t always hold, as consumers and market forces evolve. Nevertheless, thorough analysis, original ideas based on audience sentiment and putting a sound game plan into action can help you bring a successful marketing vision to fruition.