The Marketing Plan: Marketing Strategies
Strategy is a plan of attack, designed to achieve an objective. Marketing strategy is your plan to achieve the sales and marketing goals we talked about earlier.
The marketing strategy we develop will depend on our assessment of a number of factors:
- What do we know about the market in general?
- What do we know about our target market and our customers specifically?
- What are our specific targets?
- What resources do we have available?
- What is the most economical and strategic use of our resources?
What do we know about the market?
Talk to your suppliers, read trade publications, study the buzz online and above all, talk to your customers. Don’t assume you automatically know the market. Learn to question your assumptions. Make sure what you perceive is the reality.
What do we know about our target market and our customers?
The target market is that segment of the wider market that we specifically address, given our corporate philosophy, the range of products or services we offer, our sales and marketing strategy and our human and capital resources. Our customers represent part of that target. There are many consumers out there who fit our target market but they are not yet our customers. If we aim to grow our business, we need to reach these people and make them our customers. Let’s use our knowledge of our target market to attract new customers. Let’s talk to our customers to find out what attracted them to us and what keeps them coming back. Let’s find out what we could do for them that would enhance their customer experience.
What are our specific targets?
There are a number of ways to increase sales:
- Increase sales volume per customer.
- Increase market share by finding new customers; either by offering something they want but is not available from their present provider or, simply attracting business away from the competition.
- If you have a data base of your present customers, this should be your prime resource for marketing information and a high quality source of additional business. This segment of the market is already your customer. How can you induce them to increase their purchases by offering new products, volume discounts or loyalty incentives?
- What can you learn from your customer base that will enable you to attract more consumers with similar taste and buying patterns? Mine this business vein to its depths, as you widen your search for new business.
- Have you studied the market sufficiently to know whether your range of products and services fully satisfies your target market? Is there an emerging product where you can lead the market, getting a jump on your competitors? Is there a way you can add value to an existing product? How can you use your understanding of the market and your customers’ motivations to draw business away from our competitors?
What Resources Do We Have Available?
Obviously, the smaller company will have fewer marketing resources available, in terms of human capital and money. This is the point where “social media” often enters the conversation; it is cheap and used properly, produces results. Its use is now so common and it is so prone to manipulation that it is just one of a number of strategies available in a carefully planned marketing strategy. We need to assess our in-house time, talent, market knowledge and finances to map out the most realistic marketing road map. That road map will say, this is where we are, this is our objective, this is the time frame and this is what we can spend in terms of time and money. We should also say this is how and when we will measure our progress and final results.
What is the most economical and strategic use of our resources?
An honest assessment of financial and internal resources, along with our goals and targets for a specific period should yield a workable, affordable marketing strategy. Can we accomplish our targets entirely with “free” social media marketing and our website? After we have extracted maximum value from these resources, do we need to augment our messaging with paid media? If so, what is the lowest cost media mix that will achieve or exceed our targets? The winning formula is the one that produces the best results at lowest cost.
In marketing, knowledge is power. The more we know about the market, our customers, ourselves and our products, the better we can maximize our resources in achieving our sales targets.