Marketing strategy is a process that can allow an organization to concentrate its limited resources on the greatest opportunities to increase sales and achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marketing_strategy)
This definition has three key phrases in it “limited resources,” “increase sales” and “competitive advantage.” Every marketing strategy plan should have these in mind when being created if you want to achieve the greatest success in your business. Way too often businesses fail to plan, which truly means that they are actually planning to fail. I truly believe that these two phrases are synonymous no matter which way they are said (i.e. fail to plan … plan to fail)
I also strongly believe that many businesses fail to plan because they just don’t know where to start. Hopefully the following five keys will help you to first create a successful marketing strategy plan that will secondly assist you in achieving a successful and profitable business.
Key #1 – Researching Your Idea/Concept
One of the reasons that many businesses fail is because they are bringing products and services to the market that the market really doesn’t want. Make sure that the first step that you take with ANY new concept is to conduct some research and ensure that your product is saleable. Two of the approaches I tend to take are as follows:
- Google search – The main thing I do with a google search is to follow the links and answer the question how old is the content on the website? If the content is very old then perhaps this is a tried product or service with very little results, after all we don’t keep up with businesses that are producing little to no return. The other thing you want to look at is how many google results do you get for that term? If the number is very hard you need to ask yourself if the market is saturated. Also, remember if a simple google search does not produce any results there could be two reasons; a concept so new no one has thought of it or simply there is not a desire in the market place. So is your concept new and unique or just not desired?
- Surveys – When you ask your potential client directly if they would desire a product/service and ask what they need and want in that product/service, the results can help you to develop a product/service that will satisfy your client’s wants and needs. Another question I like to ask in my surveys is “what are you willing to pay for that product/service?” When you make surveying part of your research you can utilize the information to enhance and build upon an already existing concept to make it even better than you ever thought possible
Key #2 – Reviewing the “Competition”
I hate to refer to my competitors as “competition,” but rather see them as an opportunity to learn. When reviewing your “competition,” yes the first thing you need to ask yourself is “is there room for another similar product/service in the marketplace?” The second thing you need to do is conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis on the completion. What are their strengths and how can you enhance that strength or do something similar? What are their weaknesses and how can you capitalize on those weaknesses to ensure they are not one of your weaknesses? What opportunities are there for you to improve, enhance, develop and maintain a “better” product or service? What threats are they likely to pose to your business?
When you look at the competition and learn from what they are doing, it provides you with an opportunity to learn from their “mistakes” and improve upon or “copy” what they are doing right. (Please note that when I say copy I don’t mean copy what they do, but rather copy their concepts and make them your own.)
Key #3 – Creating Your Action Steps
Once you know that your product/service is needed and wanted and know what the “competition” is doing and how you will improve on what is already out there, it is time to determine what steps you will take to get your product/service recognized.
There are so many different ways that are available to market your business these days that the sky is the limit. I always suggest to my clients to remember two things when developing their strategy plan:
- Success is built from relationships and relationships are based on know, like and trust. Your client’s have to know you exist, like you and your business and trust you will deliver. When creating your strategy try to pick one marketing strategy for each of these three keys. First get your client’s to know you exist by taking whatever measures are necessary to “get the word out”. Secondly get your clients to like you by building relationships and giving them value in maintaining a relationship with you. Finally get them to trust that you not only “talk the talk,” but you can “walk the walk” too. Show them your expertise every chance you get. What can you do to get your client’s to know you (website, advertising, networking)? What can you do to get your client’s to like you (referral programs, giveaways, follow up)? Finally, what can you do to show your client’s you “know your stuff” and maintain their trust in that regard (newsletter writing, public speaking, information products)?
- Stick with the marketing methods that feel right for you. When you only stick with those marketing methods that make you feel good and allow you to be authentic you will find much greater success. If you like to write start a newsletter, if you are outgoing join a networking group. When you choose something you enjoy doing you are more likely to stick with it.
Key #4 – Implementing the Plan
If you truly desire success the only way to make it happen is by taking action. I can’t say enough how much the following saying has helped me in ensuring that I take action each and every day with my business. “Do nothing – nothing will happen, do something – something will happen.” If you choose to create a marketing strategy with good intentions, but never implements any of the strategies then you might just as well have never created the plan in the first place.
Key #5 – Evaluation and Review
Make sure that your plan allows for evaluation and review. Your business will continually evolve, grow and change so make sure to review your plan at least every 3-4 months and ensure that what was once working continues to be a good strategy today as well.
Remember that marketing strategy plans should be created for every new business idea or concept you develop whether it is a new service, an amendment to your current offerings or a new product you are developing. When you begin to make planning a part of your marketing strategy finding the success you desire will be so much easier.