Marketing is more than just selling and advertising. It is about finding out who your customers are and how many of them there are, working out how to reach them and to let them know about your product or service. This means that marketing covers every aspect of your product or service from inception, design, pricing, distribution, selling and promotion through to after sales service and customer satisfaction.
Getting the right marketing strategy to suit your business and customers is the key to a profitable business. So here are some tips for developing and putting in place a marketing strategy.
The first key to marketing is to clearly define what you do. Ask yourself: “who is my company and why am I in business?”
Once you understand the answer to this question, you are on the way to undertaking the market activity.
It is important to make marketing part of your ongoing business planning. You need to regularly ask yourself who are your competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, what your customers want and who they are, and whether there are any gaps in the market (your market niche). So the first step is to make time to plan your marketing strategies.
Once you have made the time to plan, it is important to define your customer’s needs and how this fits with the benefits of your product or service. Marketing is all about needs and benefits. It does not matter what you have to offer - it is what the customer wants that is important. All your marketing should be directed towards answering the customer’s question “What’s in it for me?” This means distinguishing between features and benefits.
Take the time to sit down and examine what you are about. You need to be aware of your products or services, your potential or existing customers and how you are going to reach them, and the competition.
Put simply, you will need to know:
A good question to ask yourself is: “Why should a client/customer come to my business?” If you cannot list the reason clearly and concisely you can be assured that neither can your potential customers.
Unique products are rare and there is competition everywhere. It is a question of evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the existing competition and yourself. Where do you fit in the marketplace? What can you offer that is a little bit different? As a small business, do not try and take on the whole market and every product, find a niche and service it well. Matching customer needs with the benefits of your product and service will help you define your market niche
Once you have collected all the information, sit down and be totally honest with yourself and do a SWOT analysis.
The SWOT analysis is short for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This will help you define areas that you can promote as strengths, areas that need to be worked on and opportunities that may be identified to market new customers or products/services.
Under each heading in point form put your honest comment regarding your business and the market in which it will participate.
Once you have a clear focus on where you are going, it is important to establish your marketing objectives for the business.
Objectives are, for example:
It is useful to divide objectives into those that are a must and those that are desirable.
Where to Now?
The establishing of your marketing strategy is based upon what goals and objectives you have for your business.
The research and ideas stage is complete, so let’s put it into action.
Once you have a clear picture and focus of your business, it is now time to sit with “pen and paper” and write a plan for the marketing action. The marketing mix is made up of price, promotion, product and place.
This is the start to putting together a marketing strategy. But is the marketing effort complete?
No. Now you must do two equally important functions.
Marketing is a cost to the business and must be budgeted for.
All small businesses should work with their accountants and develop a cash flow budget. You can also access benchmarking software at your local Business Advisory Service Centre to get an idea of marketing costs in similar business sectors.
You must remember that marketing is planning for the future. Regularly monitor the progress of your business to ensure you are on track.
Always measure advertising/promotional activities to see which activity gives the greatest growth in sales at an economical cost.
Take control on a monthly basis. Do not wait until the end of the quarter to hear from your accountant. Liaise with your accountant, marketing consultant or Business Advisory Service Centre regularly to see how your plans are working.
Marketing is a continuous evolving function and requires constant research, monitoring and control of the activity to ensure long term success.
Want to Know More?
Want to know more about marketing, or where you can get help with marketing planning?
All Business Advisory Service Centres deliver short, low cost workshops which will help you.