Entitled ‘The Entrepreneurs’ Guide to Marketing Strategy’, we covered everything from business vision and geography, to SWOT and PESTEL analyses, budget and planning.
Now we know from experience that many businesses will overlook a marketing strategy because they aren’t sure where to begin, don’t think they have the time, and aren’t entirely certain what they are trying to achieve.
No matter how clever your business ideas are, without a strategy, you risk trying to do everything at once and being side tracked as you think your ideas through more.
With a clear business strategy, however, you can focus on the direction your company is taking, monitor growth, and make decisions confidently. It will also help you develop your team, discover opportunities, and set in motion priorities and actions to drive your business forward. In short, it will help make your business successful.
So where do you start? Here is our guide to the important factors you need to consider when building your plan:
Marketing can be used to achieve a number of purposes, like boosting sales, educating your customers or promoting an event. To make your marketing successful you need to know what result you are trying to achieve. Don’t think: “I need a brochure”. Think instead: “We need more enquiries…”
Your marketing strategy budget should be included in the business plan you created before launching your business. A general rule of thumb it to allocate 5-10% of your turnover towards marketing. The newer your business, the more your marketing investment should be.
Check out the competition
Take time to analyse your competitors. What market positions have they already taken? By researching them, you will be better able to find a different slant for your business. Will you follow their lead, or find a niche they don’t cater to? Or a more effective way of solving their problems?
What makes you different?
Identify what makes your company different from your competitors and make sure you promote your difference. A difference may be something that you think is mundane, but which your customer finds really important. Marketing a difference is an area that many companies find a challenge, but that’s where the margins usually are, so it’s worth pursuing hard.
Target with precision
Gear your marketing as precisely as possible towards the people who would benefit the most from your business. Once you know who you are aiming for, you can work out where to find them; it may be at exhibitions, over the internet or through direct mail. Don’t settle for one method of contact though. The person you miss on the telephone, could well be the person who picks up your promotional leaflet.
Look after your customers
It costs at least four times less to keep a customer than it does to lure a new one. What is more, a happy customer won’t be shy in recommending your business. Think of how you can engage with them in ways they appreciate, for example through informative newsletters, money-off vouchers, regular eshots, or exclusive offers. Mix it up a bit - you won’t get loyalty by being overly pushy.
Strengthen your sales function
Another way to make sure your clients stay with you is to give them good after sales service. Make sure you have staff that understand your objectives and values and are trained to support your customers when they need advice or assistance. Having enough staff to carry out this support is also very important.
People with strong business ideas often have the information they need to build a strategy. Investing time in a marketing strategy will help organise those clever thoughts. But when you are caught up in the day-to-day running of your business, who has the time to do this? A business or marketing consultant can be very useful in helping you see the woods for the trees.
And don’t forget, in business there are five types of business: Those who make things happen. Those who imagine things happen. Those who watch things happen. Those who wonder what happened. And those for whom nothing has happened.
Which business type is yours?