One of the most challenging parts of marketing is creating effective strategies. That’s because it’s impossible to be certain what outcome any given marketing strategy will bring. But there are ways you can increase the probability of success.
First, let’s define strategy and consider why it’s needed.
Wikipedia defines strategy as “A long term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal, most often “winning.” Strategy is differentiated from tactics or immediate actions with resources at hand by its nature of being extensively premeditated, and often practically rehearsed. Strategies are used to make the problem easier to understand and solve.”
My definition is a bit simpler, and hopefully, easier to understand. I consider developing a strategy as the “thinking” part of the process. It’s where you gather all the pertinent information, analyze it, and then make “informed” decisions based on what you learned. A strategy is an informed decision that provides a framework for actions.
Here are the steps to assure you’re making informed decisions.
Start with your Goals.
Decide what you want to accomplish through your marketing efforts? As you know Goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely). Use sales, units sold, orders placed, or whatever is the most meaningful number for you. Target a specific amount and date (i.e. $1,300,000 in sales by December 31st).
Answer basic marketing questions.
The questions you want to answer are:
1) What is your value message
2) Who will value what you offer
3) When will they be most interested in your offer
4) Where will you find your target market
5) Why should they buy from you?
Read more about these in my Business Success Article, Five Questions to Help Create an Effective Marketing Plan, http://primestrategies.com/createmktgplan.htm.
Review your marketing history.
In reviewing the history focus on what lessons can be learned. Have past marketing efforts been successful? Compare marketing costs with results achieved. Assess what worked and what didn’t. Something that worked in the past might work with a slight tweak or maybe a complete overhaul. Was your product or service appropriately positioned compared with competitors? You’ll want to expand on successes and eliminate unproductive actions in the future.
Talk to staff, customers, service providers, colleagues.
The prudent business owner knows there’s a wealth of valuable information within these groups. Ask them what’s working and what’s not working as they see it. I’ve seen business owners make big changes to their original thinking after gathering this information.
Consider market trends.
Determine if your product or service is in a waxing or a waning market trend. The credit crisis and market volatility has prompted average citizens to start educating themselves about personal finance, investing and retirement. Offering educational information in the financial services industry is a growing (waxing) trend.
Today’s marketplace is more global than ever, and so what happens in one market impacts other markets and, eventually, the economy in general. Even if your business is strictly local, it’s prudent to know what’s going on in global, national and regional, as well as local markets.
Review all the information you’ve gathered. What patterns do you see? How does your product or service fit into existing trends? Where is there a market gap? Where is there an opportunity? How can you build on past successes? Do you need to strengthen your brand image or modify your market position? What past and/or future problems or barriers might hold you back? How well have you communicated your value message? Keep asking questions of the findings until you feel you’ve covered what’s there.
Consider possible outcomes of each strategy being considered.
You might want to develop several possible strategies that appear to take advantage of what you learned in your analysis. Be sure to include the cost of what would likely be involved in carrying out each strategy. Think Return-on-Investment (ROI). If your Goal is $1,300,000 in sales this year, you’re looking for the strategy that all your information (and your instincts) tells you will most likely get you there.
Now you’re ready to take the next step: identifying the specific actions you’ll take to carry out your Marketing Plan. Having completed a meaningful preparation you’ll be much more likely to stay with your plan…and more likely to achieve your Marketing Goals.
Create your own marketing strategy using the tools and guidance provided in the Prime Strategies One Page Marketing Plan. Developing a strategy is step number two in your Plan. You’ll be making informed decisions for your business and learn exactly how to do it.