Build A Winning Marketing Strategy – What You Need To Know
What is a Marketing Strategy?
A Marketing Strategy outlines and analyzes where and how a business fits into their market by defining and building on the 4 Ps of marketing (Product, Promotion, Price, Place) as they apply to their individual business. The 4 Ps will be different for every business, just as every business needs its own, customized Marketing Strategy – a “cookie-cutter” solution will not make you stand out in your marketplace. At id8, based in Atlanta, we focus on the 4 Ps of marketing to help build a successful plan for our clients.
The very first step in the process is completing a full market analysis – you need to know what your customers think of you, what your competitors are doing, and know what your goals are for your company’s future. All of this data taken together will help generate a strong Marketing Strategy for you to build your campaigns around.
The 4 Ps
Let’s look at the 4 Ps individually.
Your Product is potentially your most important of the 4 Ps – without a product you don’t have anything to plan a strategy for! Your Product can refer to either a physical product (books, screwdrivers, pens, etc.) or a service you plan on offering. The first step here is simple – know and define your brand and brand name. Be consistent with what you call your product and how it’s labeled on your website, referred to by employees, or listed in catalogs.
And while you’re probably pretty sure you know your product as well as it’s possible to know it, it’s always a good idea to make sure you’ve looked at it from every angle that your consumers might come to it from. Make sure you can answer all of their questions. You should have in-depth, immediate knowledge of your product’s functionality and be able to help customers with questions about how to use a physical product or how to best incorporate the service you offer into their business needs. You should also be aware of any related products or services that customers might inquire about as they relate to your product or be ready to tell them about accessories or maintenance options.
Next, you should understand your product’s packaging. Know why it’s in the type of package it is and how that package promotes and protects it. Know if it can be recycled or upcycled. Know what information is included on the packaging.
And finally, you should be well versed in your product’s quality and warranty information. This applies to services as well as physical products. If there is a warranty or other guarantee on physical pieces of work/services provided, that is information you should be able to supply to your customers quickly and accurately.
- Related products or services
The second of these 4 Ps is Promotion – or how you plan to market your product or service. The first thing to determine when you begin to work out a promotion strategy is your marketing budget, which will drive all of the aspects of the plan and set parameters around what is and is not realistically possible. With a big brand like Coke or Nike, their budget is high enough that the sky’s the limit. But most of us work within much more realistic constraints and recognizing those constraints and planning around them realistically is the first practical step.
Once you’ve determined a budget, you can begin to build your promotional strategy around that framework. Things to consider are how to publicize and get attention for your product or service – as well as making sure you’re seeking attention from the correct audience. Then there’s your salesforce, or the people actually working to get your product or service into the hands of customers. And that salesforce team will need tools to use as they promote your product or service, things like a strong website, brochures or sales sheets, business cards, and other appropriate collateral.
- Marketing budget
- Promotional strategy
- Publicity and public relations
- Sales promotion
The third P is Price – you’re going to need a plan for how you’re going to price your product or service, and the plan needs to be flexible to react to seasonal or market changes. Are you prepared to adjust your pricing model, if needed? What is your pricing model based on – competitive research is a good way to get an estimate of what the market will support and to make sure your pricing is on a similar scale to other prices your consumers will see. Or, if your product or service is markedly differentiated from your competitors, knowing their pricing will help you scale where your price point should be.
The other considerations on pricing are more related to a retail environment – what is your wholesale versus retail price and do those numbers support each other. If there is a large bulk/volume order, will your pricing remain the same, or is there additional flexibility for high-quantity orders? Finally, you will need to determine if seasonality will impact your price. Perhaps you should raise or lower prices at certain times of the year to meet consumer demand or encourage more purchases during a slower season.
Bundling (if you have related products/services)
- Pricing flexibility
- Pricing strategy
- Retail price
- Seasonal price (if applicable)
- Wholesale (volume) price
The final of the 4 Ps is Place, also known as Distribution. This refers to how you are going to deliver your product or service to your customer. Getting your product or service to your customers in a timely and manageable way is important for customer satisfaction and for keeping your costs from ballooning.
For physical goods, you will need to think about your distribution centers, as well as your distribution or shipping channels. Where will your product be stored and from there, how will you get it to your customers in a quick and easy way? This means determining if you need warehouse space, how much space you will need if you need space in more than one geographical area to fulfill customer orders, and how to get your stock into your warehouse or distribution center so it can be shipped to your customers.
You not only need to distribute your product, but you also need to track your inventory to make sure you have enough product on hand to fill orders without delays. The ordering process needs to be easy to follow, and clear to your customer that the quantity they are ordering is available, and how and when it will ship to them.
For services, you will still need to track availability to ensure you can fill incoming orders, such as if you have the capacity to take on an additional printing order, or if you have employees available to fulfill a service or maintenance order. Additionally, there are still logistics issues to consider in terms of getting your service or personnel to the correct job or delivery site. You may need a plan for transporting employees from your office or base to the job site they’re needed at and depending on the size of the area in which your services are available, this could mean anything from company vehicles to air travel and overnight accommodations.
Moving on from the 4 Ps, and before we dive into the rest of the marketing strategy information… Let’s look at how a Marketing Strategy is different from a Marketing Plan.
Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan
A Marketing Strategy defines your company’s goals, a wider scale view of what you want to achieve, which markets you want to be in, and what your long-term plan looks like. As compared to your Marketing Plan, which is comprised of the actual tactics, campaigns, initiatives, and promotions you will use to achieve those goals.
Why You Need a Marketing Strategy
The need for a marketing strategy will become painfully obvious as a company grows. At the beginning, the CEO knows where the company needs to go and provides the direction needed to move forward every step of the way. But once a company grows beyond the CEO’s ability to handle the day-to-day direction, there will be a lack of clarity and consistency in all branding and marketing efforts.
This is where the need for a full marketing strategy is most prevalent. The marketing strategy is a document that is designed for long-term use. This will give your marketing strategist and the marketing team a document to refer to when building future marketing campaigns. Having a well-documented, clear marketing strategy will ensure that all marketing activities will complement the future goals listed in that strategy.
7 Steps to The Perfect Marketing Strategy
At id8 in Atlanta, we have found the below steps are key in building the perfect marketing strategy.
Step 1 – Complete A SWOT analysis
The SWOT Analysis will identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for your specific business. This is essential for long-term planning as it will help to gauge where you are in the market and what changes you should be looking at making.
Remember this is a document that informs many decisions later on, so it needs to be taken very seriously. You can do this by adding many people to the project on your team or by engaging a specialized outside company to execute and summarize the SWOT analysis for your company.
Step 2 – Establish The Value Proposition
The best marketing strategies mirror a company’s value proposition. Why? Because the value proposition builds on the company’s main strength while differentiating the company from the other competitors in their market.
This is a crucial step in building a successful brand. Once you understand the benefit of your product, specifically the benefit your customers most recognize and value, and the key differences from other offerings on the market you will have a pinpointed value proposition your company can use to build toward a bright future.
Step 3 – Define The Marketing Strategy Objectives
A company’s marketing strategy defines the goals the company wants to achieve. These goals are the company’s big picture for moving forward and will guide the company into the future. Because these goals guide so many different parts and areas of the company it is important for the goals to be structured in the SMART goal format.
SMART stands for:
- Specific – be sure your goals are based on your unique, specific business, not just a general idea or industry standard
- Measurable – goals should be concrete and something you can see progress towards – not just “grow a lot” or “sell more”
- Assignable – goals should relate to specific departments or groups, who can then work towards achieving them – a 50% increase in sales or a 70% decrease in fulfillment time
- Relevant – your goals should reflect your company, with aspirations that apply directly to your industry or your customer’s needs
- Time-Based – have a timeframe established in which you want to achieve the goal(s)
This will ensure that a company can quickly review the progress of their goals, see if they’re on track to meet those goals, and know who is responsible for it.
Step 4 – Understand Your Customers
This step builds on the Value Proposition step. To really be able to help your customers, first you need to know what their problems are so you can solve these problems with your product or service. Gather as much data as possible so you can know everything about your target market. Find out what is most important to them, if it’s cost, time, environmental impact, etc. This will ensure your company is able to meet the wants and needs of your target market.
Step 5 – Build Your Buyer Personas
Using the data you gathered in the previous step, begin to build out your buyer personas. These should reflect the demographics and/or psychographics of your customers. The buyer personas give every level of your business the insights they will need to ensure they reach the intended target with the correct message using the proper methodology.
Step 6 – Research Your Market and Competitors
To ensure that you gain maxim penetration into the market you will need to do a lot of research. Review the market to find common frustrations and complaints of customers. This can be accomplished through interviews, satisfaction surveys, website usage statistics, and more. This data will give you insights into how to position your product.
You will also need to look at your potential competitors. Research what is working well for them, where they are failing, and any weaknesses in their business. Find out their customers’ points of frustration. Doing this will ensure that your business beats all the competitors by doing everything they do at the same level while also providing things your competitors do not.
Step 7 – Detail Your Marketing Methods
Once you have completed the buyer personas you will know how to best reach your target audience. Using that information, you will detail which mediums you want to use to reach them and what you want to say to them in each medium. This is essential for a business just starting out because it ensures maximum exposure to your target market while also keeping your expenses down. You can make sure you are fishing where the fish are instead of just throwing out a hook and hoping someone notices it.
The 8 Best Types Of Marketing Strategies (B2B & B2C)
When talking to B2B clients or B2C there are different approaches that you must take. id8, an Atlanta-based design firm, has experience in both B2B and B2C clients.
1. Referral Marketing
Referral marketing is the act of using recommendations and referrals to grow a business by – hearing a good review from someone that is known and trusted makes a stronger impression than just seeing an advertisement. The person who is referring you is helping you to leveraging their network to help grow your business.
- How it works: The best way to incorporate referral marketing in your business is to join a networking group. There are a lot of networking groups available so do your research. Some are based around a specific city or geographic area, some are based in certain industries or professions, and some might be based around other factors, like age, gender, alumni from a particular school, or more.
- Pros: A constantly expanding network
- Cons: Can be slow to grow
2. Email Marketing
Email marketing uses your existing database of customers to increase sales by sending various types of emails to draw them back to the site. These will typically be based around offers or events that encourage the recipients to click through to get a special deal or learn about a new product launch or holiday celebration. This can have added benefit with “send to a friend” links, so the original recipients can forward these communications to their friends, hopefully driving those friends to also visit your website, and potentially also sign up for more email communications.
- How it works: Once a person registers for an account on your site or signs up for a newsletter, you will craft emails to send to them that will bring them onto your site where you offer them special pricing or limited-time deals. Emails can go out to your entire list or be honed with specific messaging for different segments of your list depending on how much demographic information you have about them (new sign-ups, customers who haven’t made a purchase within a specific timeframe, and more).
- Pros: Can drastically increase sales
- Cons: Takes a lot of time to manage effectively
3. Event Marketing
Event marketing is just what it sounds like, promoting your brand or offering through live interactive events either online or offline. This is often a good way to get in front of people who are likely to be interested in your product since they’re ready to attend a related event.
- How it works: This can be done in a few ways. You can sponsor an event, meaning having your company’s name on the signage and having promotional material available for attendees, or have a booth at an event, or you can host an event to specifically promote your brand or offering.
- Pros: Can reach a lot of people especially if it’s an online event
- Cons: Can take a lot of manpower to be effective
4. Content Marketing
Creating and distributing content through multiple channels to promote interest in the topic of the content and not necessarily the brand is called Content Marketing. This gains the interest of your consumers by offering them the information they need, in an easily accessible, understandable way. It can also sometimes build additional goodwill for your brand, as your customers see you as a company who is providing a useful service to them, and not pushing branded advertising on them.
- How it works: Your company will create a piece of content (Blog, Video, or A Lead Magnet) and drive traffic to this piece of content through emails, social media, and ads. And it’s always possible content like this could go viral, meaning your viewers would help spread the word through their personal email and social media channels.
- Pros: A great way to gain recognition quickly by producing content that answers questions people have been asking.
- Cons: Since this involves multiple types of marketing, this can be an expensive undertaking. Also, since this is not necessarily branded marketing, it’s possible the consumers can miss entirely who provided the content to them and possibly turn their attention to a competitor.
5. SEO Marketing
SEO Marketing is the process of improving the quality of a website through content and technical aspects to provide a better ranking in search engine results, thus driving more traffic to the website and providing a more valuable customer experience while on the website. This could be as simple as re-writing some pages or making sure your content includes specific keywords. Or it could mean adding additional pages to your website to get them indexed into the search engines. This also gives you a great opportunity to review all of the copy and content on your existing website and ensure everything is current and accurate and that it reflects your best product or services offerings.
- How it works: You start with an audit to identify the weak areas that need improvement on your website. You will optimize these areas and then focus on the content to make sure that it is SEO optimized so you can increase your organic rank on search engines.
- B2B or B2C
- Pros: The better your organic rank the more organic traffic you will get. HINT – Organic traffic is traffic that you do not have to pay for.
- Cons: Could require a site rebuild and can consume a lot of resources at the beginning but pretty easy to maintain after that.
6. PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Marketing
Advertising on search engines by paying to appear in search results for a given keyword(s) is called Pay-Per-Click Marketing. This helps you drive an audience to your website who you know is already looking for specific information, thus an audience who will be very receptive to your product or service offering. You just need to be thoughtful and deliberate about the keywords you choose and ensure they target your business well.
- How it works: You will build an account on the search engine of choice and define the keywords you want to target. As people search for this term, you will appear at the top of the search results.
- B2B or B2C
- Pros: Can greatly increase awareness and sales.
- Cons: Can become costly depending on the number of keywords you want to target.
7. Social Media Advertising
Using Social Media platforms to run ads for your brand or offering can be a great way to attract new customers. It’s a fast way to increase your reach across a broad audience.
- How it works: You will set up a business account on the social platform you want to advertise on and you will craft an ad that speaks to the benefit your customers receive from using your brand or offering. There are multiple social media platforms to choose from, including sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, and each will have its own strengths for the audience it reaches and messages that resonate with that audience.
- Pros: Greatly increase the reach of your business.
- Cons: If not done properly you can lose business.
8. Guerrilla Marketing
Guerrilla Marketing employs surprise or ambush tactics to promote a brand or offering through untraditional advertising space. This tactic typically works best if it is very location-specific, speaking to the local audience who will interact with your advertising. Well-crafted guerilla campaigns can become a popular topic of conversation and interest among residents who encounter it. But there is potential for backlash from people who dislike the way the messaging is executed, or the location selected.
- How it works: Usually involving a pre-existing feature of a city and your brand will be added to it by using stickers or temporary paint.
- Pros: Very cost-effective.
- Cons: Can lead to legal issues if not properly researched or permitted.
Examples of Successful Marketing Strategies
Millions of companies around the world try different marketing strategies every year. And every year there are brilliant new campaigns that generate interest and excitement, while on the other hand, there are always campaigns that just completely flop and fall flat. There are entire websites about some of these massive failures in marketing, but here are some examples of really good marketing strategies from some of the world’s most popular brands.
LEGO – Rebuild the World
Lego’s new “Rebuild the World” campaign – their first marketing campaign in 30 years – puts the focus on imaginative play and builds off that into the power for change that imagination can enable. The main video spot is a short “adventure movie” set in a mixed live-action and Lego world, in which even the live-action follows the feel of Legos with clothing printed with the character’s accessories (like binoculars and neckties) similar to how Lego prints their minifigs, cameras and flowers made of Legos, and buildings with Lego doorknobs. The characters are continually rebuilding their world through the course of their mini-adventure. The video appeals to a wide audience of both young and older viewers.
Volkswagen – The Last Mile
Volkswagen bids a fond farewell to their iconic Beetle in this animated video. It showcases moments in a family’s life where their Beetle was there for them, as well as classic culture and pop culture moments focused on the car – Andy Warhol, peace protests, and Footloose-era Kevin Bacon.
Volkswagen included a social component with their #TheLastMile hashtag campaign, in which they asked Beetle owners and influencers to share their photos, memories, and experiences with the classic car. And Volkswagen isn’t the only company with a user-generated, social component to their recent, outstanding campaigns – AirBNB and Fitbit are both featuring user-generated content in their new campaigns.
Airbnb and Fitbit
Authentic, user-generated content is a great way to boost your brand voice and build trust with your consumers. Airbnb and Fitbit are both brands that build relationships or memorable moments with their consumers, and they’re reaching out to those consumers to supply that content to their wider audience. Airbnb is using pictures, posts, and tourist information generated by their travelers to excite their audience about traveling and new locations. While Fitbit is reaching out to their customers to get true, inspiring stories about users’ success stories in getting fit while using their Fitbits.
Consumers are drawn to these real-world stories about brands, as they’re not fanciful pieces concocted by marketers, they’re honest, believable stories about how brands have improved other people’s lives – which inspires people to look for the same improvements in their lives, also brought on by interacting with those brands.
Burger King in Europe
And finally, as we begin to emerge from the global COVID-19 pandemic, Burger King has opened their restaurants to their customers again, while also releasing a new campaign in France and Belgium that focuses on their customers – and their customers’ less than ideal actions. They take a unique spin on celebrating their customers with a “We missed you” message, then a montage of annoying behavior that restaurant employees contend with, which they do, with patience. It is a memorable, funny, and irreverent look at our re-opening world.
A solid marketing strategy is essential to the long-term success of a business. Doing this before your business grows will ensure brand and message consistency, leading to long-term success for your business. Also, think about revisiting this document at regular intervals to ensure that your marketing strategy is using successful strategies as the market landscape changes.
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