Why is it so important to have a marketing strategy?
A well organized and planned out strategy can make the difference between success and failure. Small businesses often don't have a marketing strategy in place because they don’t have a marketing background and lack the experience. Businesses in this situation tend to end up creating a lot of noise in hopes that their efforts will increase sales and generate revenue but it actually results in wasted time and money.
Having a marketing strategy serves as a plan that outlines your goals and functions as a foundation for your marketing efforts. It will help you identify your market and opportunities to give you a competitive advantage that will increase sales.
The process of developing a marketing strategy can be broken down into five steps. Each step assists in helping businesses establish a clear direction and optimize marketing effectiveness. The five steps in developing a marketing strategy described below are: identifying clear goals and objectives, analyzing the situation or SWOT analysis, identifying and understanding your market, defining your marketing mix, and evaluating and adjusting your marketing efforts.
Indentify Objectives: What is the desired outcome of your marketing efforts? Some goals and objectives may include: increase brand awareness, develop new markets for products or services, or boost sales.
SWOT Analysis: What are your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? S.W.O.T Analysis is well known in the business planning process.
Strengths: The advantages your business has in the marketplace relative to competitors. Some advantages may be: brand equity, experience, organization network and alliances, innovative products or services, or a convenient location for your customers.
Weaknesses: The internal factors that put you at a disadvantage in the marketplace. Weaknesses may include: lack of product differentiation, weak distribution channels, deficiencies in resources and skills, or an inadequate online presence.
Opportunities: The favorable situations that put you at an advantage. Opportunities can be: use of advanced technology, higher economic growth rate in your region, or a well established brand in your market or niche.
Threats: The unfavorable factors that threaten your business. Some of these obstacles may be: changes in the market or economy, monopolies, cash flow problems, poor public reviews, a new competitor in the marketplace or competitors have better products or lower prices.
Market Segmentation: Do you have a well defined target market? It’s important to know and understand who your customers are and how to satisfy their needs. Markets can be segmented based on the following consumer characteristics: geographic, demographic, psychographic and behavioristic. Different customers have different needs and you can’t satisfy all customers by treating them all alike.
Define Marketing Mix: Do you have all of the elements of your marketing mix clearly defined? The elements of the 7 Ps of Marketing include: product, place, price, promotion, people, process and physical evidence (physical environment). All of these elements work together to create and support your marketing efforts. Click here to read more about the 7 Ps of the Marketing Mix.
Evaluate and Adjust: Do you know how to evaluate your marketing strategies? Evaluating and analyzing is an important step in the effectiveness of your marketing strategies. This can be done by checking the response of sales, getting feedback from your customers, continuously monitoring progress, and calculating the cost of campaigns against the campaigns' profits. Regular evaluations ensure that you are staying on track, reaching your goals and maximizing your ROI.