Choosing a market strategy for your business can be a daunting task. If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner it’s often difficult to know where to start. You need to think about the core of your business, how your products and/or services provide value and how to connect the two in a well laid out marketing strategy.
Related: Cash flow management
In essence your marketing strategy is about figuring out how to do a superior job satisfying your customers. A well-defined marketing strategy will simplify your everyday marketing activities and provide direction to accomplishing your business objectives.
This article serves as a foundation for your business to identify the tools that can effectively be used to fight competition and gain market share. Each topic sets out to give you a quick summary of the main theories. We’ll investigate how your business can improve its effectiveness of your marketing message to customers and prospects.
What is marketing?
According to Matt Blumberg – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Return Path (global data solutions provider) marketing done well is the strategy of your business – its value proposition, go to market strategy, and brand positioning and image to the world.
Marketing not done well is an endless checklist of advertising and promotional to-dos that can never be competed. Matt concludes that marketing in the twenty-first century must be largely measurable and accountable around driving business goals.
In summary, marketing is the process of creating and communicating offerings that have value for your customers. The purpose of all businesses is to find and keep customers. The only way you can achieve this objective is to create a competitive advantage.
If your business is good, a marketing strategy can make it better. If bad, it may save it
A marketing strategy is the overall strategy of your business in relation to your particular market. It’s the big picture of what companies in South Africa will do in some market in order to gain a competitive advantage.
A marketing strategy involves choosing realistic, measurable and ambitious marketing objectives that you think your business can achieve on a sustainable basis. Each marketing tactic you use should be 100% focused on reaching and surpassing these strategic marketing objectives.
- Strategic management is all about identifying and describing the strategies your managers can use to achieve a competitive advantage for your business.
- Strategic planning is an organisational management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources. Strengthen operations, ensure employees and stakeholders are working toward a common goal and assess and adjust your business’s direction in response to the changing environment.
The 5 key marketing concepts
#1 Identify your Target Market
The key to your business success is in making the required level of sales. In order to make those sales you need to understand you target customers – what are their wants and needs? How will you entice them to buy?
You will need different marketing strategies for different types of customers. Different customers will respond to different stimuli. By increasing your understanding about why your customers are buying, you can maximise business opportunities in South Africa.
Always keep potential customers at the forefront of your mind.
What “places” (online or offline) do your customer frequent? When are your customers most open to receiving marketing messages? Use customer segmentation:
- Subdivide your market place into distinct subsets of customers having similar needs and wants.
- Look at differences that actually affect buying behaviour.
- Evaluate which segments are worth targeting. They should be large enough to justify marketing to them. Accessible through normal marketing channels and distinctive enough from other segments to need a separate marketing campaign.
- Rank the market segments in terms of potential sales. Practise your marketing budget accordingly.
Market research provide managers with information on factors that impact consumers’ acquisition, consumption, and dispositions of goods, services and ideas.
Use market research to map your consumer markets’ perceptions of competing brands in relation to attributes they consider important in determining value. You can then see major threats to your brand as well as the different directions in which they could move.
There are no single set of steps in a market research procedure that is accepted by everyone. However, there is a general agreement that four major activities should be performed:
- Making a preliminary investigation. You need to determine the purpose and scope of your research. Then become comfortable in the problem setting by launching an unstructured search of the marketing environment. Identify the problem the final result of the preliminary investigation is to create a set of research questions.
- Creating the research design. This is the plan proposed to test the research questions. Determine the types of data needed. Locate the sources and choosing your method of collecting the data.
- Planning the sample. Use a small part of the population to make up your sample. They must be representative of your segmented audience. Now, from this sample, gather the facts to be used in solving your problem. Data has now been collected.
- Processing the data. Now you must convert the collected data into a format that will suggest answers to the initially identified problem.
- Formulate a conclusion. Interpret the information and draw a conclusion.
#3 Differential advantage
You must assess what your business does better than the competition and gives it a differential advantage. Criteria for a good differential advantage:
- Importance. A differential advantage must be important to the buyer. If the buyer does not understand the value or importance of your product/service, it cannot be a differential advantage.
- Perceived. A good differential advantage must be perceived by the buyer.
- Uniqueness. Your differential advantage must be unique from other providers.
- Sustainable. When seeking a differential advantage, it is essential that your business consider focusing on aspects of the operation or business that are sustainable for some period of time.
Traditionally, in most industries there have been three areas in which an organisation can seek a differential advantage.
Today you have many more sources to establish a differential advantage. Superior positioning, superior skills and superior sources to name a few.
#4 Marketing-mix development
The marketing mix refers to the various elements of your company’s offering in the market place.
- Product. This area is concerned with developing the right product/service for your target market. Your product/service must satisfy a specific consumer need.
- Branding. The use of the name, term, symbol and design to identify your product. A good brand name can speed up shopping by helping customers identify the product they want.
- Packaging. This involves promoting and protecting the product. It can make a product more convenient to use or store It can prevent spoiling or damage. Good packaging makes products easier to identify and promotes the brand at the point of sale. Place is concerned with all the decisions involved in getting the right product to the target market’s environment. Part of the place decision is also the layout or your store or shop. It should pull customers into your shop, making it easy for them locate merchandise.
- Price. In setting a price for your product, you must consider completion in the target market, and the cost of the total marketing mix. Also estimate customer reaction to possible prices. Promotion is concerned with telling the target market about your product/service. It involves direct communication between sellers and potential customers.
#5 Advertising message
Once you’ve identified your target market you can begin to design your advertising message. Don’t try to tell your customers everything about your product or service. Narrow your message and be specific so customers get one important message. Here are some tips:
- Say what you want to sell
- Name the product/service.
- Set a price.
- Put any exclusions or disclaimers at the bottom, if necessary.
- Add your catchy tagline.
- Add your call to action.
Types of marketing strategies
When developing a marketing strategy, you need to divine your marketing objectives, such as growing inbound web visits, capturing leads or increasing sales. Based on these goals you must decide on the best marketing strategy to reach them.
Business to business marketing involves the sale of your company’s products or services to another company. B2B buyers make decisions based on price and profit potential.
B2B selling is complex, with a fairly long sales cycle and needs to be a focused process. Developing and implementing an effective and thorough B2B marketing strategy will help you build your sales much more quickly.
As a business that markets and sells to other businesses, you have to understand that marketing is the foundation for your sales effort; and that sales success is the result of time and effort. By writing a marketing and sales strategy, and executing that plan, your business growth strategy objectives will be met.
Digital marketing, also known as webmarketing, is essential in today’s world, with both competitors and potential customers constantly online, a digital marketing solution is the only way to stay ahead.
An effective digital strategy will help you make the right decisions so your company can become successful online. Whether you are providing information, promoting a product or asking for a sign up, your visitors should immediately see and understand what is expected of them.
You need to create a marketing funnel. This is when you map out a customer’s journey from when they are a complete stranger to when they become a lead, and then put strategies in place that will encourage them to move through this funnel.
Besides your business putting up a website, you can use popular social networking sites to distribute your message and create brand awareness. Twitter and Facebook are invaluable for describing existing products, introducing new products, offering promotions and announcing sales.
Set business goals for your social media, ensure these social goals solve challenges .It’s best not to experiment without a clear idea of how social media will support your business goals. A social media strategy will help you deploy social media in the best way to reach your goals by prioritising on the channels.
Focus on networks that will add value to your business. Just because a network has billions of users doesn’t mean it will have a direct contribution to your brand’s objectives. Focus your efforts on networks that hold the key to your target audience and objectives.
Email marketing is said to be one of the strongest marketing channels. And it ca be, if backed by an effective email marketing strategy.
An effective email marketing strategy transform ideas into actions. First set your goals and ambitions. Then personalise your email. Inject personalised recommendations into marketing emails for the ultimate one-to-one communication.
If you’re not making deals available via email, you are ignoring the largest, direct audience for your product/service.
Unconventional and inexpensive techniques with imagination, big crowds and a surprise element are used for marketing something, a popular example being a flash mob.
If your small business lacks a huge marketing budget, then gorilla marketing could help you reach the public in a creative way.
Gorilla marketing strategies and tactics are a great and cost-effective way to generate awareness for your business, products and services.
Marketing strategies help you develop products and services to better serve the needs of your target market. Done right, your market strategy will help your customers understand why your product or service is better than you competitors.
Related: Profit planning and control
Successful marketing strategies are inevitably focused on the needs of your target market. With an emphasis on continually communicating the benefits of your service or products over those available from the competition.
In your day-to-day business activities it’s difficult to turn your attention to the big picture, especially when you’re putting out fires left and right. Your marketing strategy provides a roadmap for your business objectives. It keeps you on track. It keeps your target market in the forefront of your mind.