Why is Marketing Strategy important and how to prepare it?
Marketing is a basic element of any company’s development, without which even the best product and great organization will not be enough advantages in competition with other companies. People buy from companies they know and feel a connection with, whether the transaction takes place online or in a stationary store. So you should take care of the marketing strategy for your business and determine what marketing activities will benefit your business the most.
What is marketing strategy?
Marketing activities help a business grow only when they are properly planned, thought out and structured. Developing a marketing strategy, therefore, enables you to learn about the needs of customers in your industry and then plan promotional activities that will achieve the desired results. A company’s marketing strategy is a long-term plan of action that includes many related and carefully planned tasks and conditions that must be accomplished in order for the company to gain new customers, improve profits, and increase its market share. Marketing strategies are formulated based on the analysis of many factors that directly affect the company’s internal and external environment.
The formulation of a marketing strategy culminates in the decision-making process, when you have to select specific actions that you want to implement for the best results. At this stage it is also necessary to decide which problems of the company (in the sphere of marketing) should be a priority to solve. Thus, marketing strategy is a kind of guide to the implementation of the company’s business objectives, because it precisely defines the paths to their achievement. The final version of the marketing strategy is usually created in the form of a strategy document (a professionally prepared document can contain even more than 100 pages), which is then used to plan every form of company promotion.
Why does your business need a marketing strategy?
Probably like any other entrepreneur, you want your business to continuously grow, gain new customers, increase your profits and become a popular and respected brand. Therefore, a marketing strategy allows you to carefully plan specific promotional activities that are necessary on the way to achieving the mentioned goals. In addition, at the strategy preparation stage, you will learn what the strengths and weaknesses of your business are, as well as become familiar with current industry conditions and competitors’ activities.
With a professional marketing strategy you will also save money on ineffective marketing activities – one of the goals of a developed strategy is to focus on promotional activities that provide the greatest benefits. A marketing strategy is crucial in the context of branding – it indicates the direction of action, clarifies the audience (potential customers) and shows how your company can stand out from competitors. Entrepreneurs who do not follow a carefully planned marketing strategy very often waste much more resources on marketing, achieving much worse results than entrepreneurs who take the preparation of a marketing strategy seriously. The proper content of a marketing strategy, therefore, allows you to maximize your profits, even if there are some costs involved in preparing it.
How do you create and develop the right marketing strategy for your business?
A good marketing strategy is like a road map for your business. It serves as a guide for you and your employees, so you can and should refer to it when developing your marketing plan and evaluate all your promotional activities based on it. Creating a marketing strategy takes time, knowledge and data. However, if you are truly committed to growing your business, you should tackle this task as soon as possible. The first step in creating a strategy is to identify your marketing goals. What would you like to achieve? In what direction do you want your business to grow? At the stage of evaluating the chosen goals, analyze the current state of your company, taking into account parameters such as sales volume, market share, profitability, image, customer satisfaction and their expectations.
You can identify the strengths and weaknesses of your company using SWOT analysis. Evaluating your company also helps you to delineate the most important promotional issues and determine the company’s mission and value. You should also conduct a market analysis and research the competition so that you can use marketing techniques that work for other companies and find your unique solutions to make your business stand out from the competition. Once you have established your marketing goals, you need to move on to choosing your customer communication channels and the most effective tools to promote your business. After creating a marketing strategy, you can treat it as a coherent vision and mission of the company, which all employees of the company should stick to, and move on to the execution of the tasks set.
Preparing a marketing strategy – where to start?
The work on creating a marketing strategy should begin with an analysis of the market situation in the industry in which your company operates and by defining marketing objectives. Analysis of the situation in your industry is a comprehensive look at the status quo (your company’s opportunities in the context of the current situation in the industry). This includes, for example, an analysis of your company’s available resources (e.g., funds available for marketing), as well as an analysis of the market situation, competitors and suppliers, and legislation.
The data collected in the situation analysis are the basis for setting marketing objectives. These are closely related to the company’s goals and focus on increasing sales, building brand awareness, increasing market share, attracting new customers, and retaining existing customers, among others. Marketing objectives define the end goal to be achieved through the marketing strategy. An important characteristic of an effective marketing strategy is to think about its implementation as early as the planning stage, so when choosing your marketing objectives, you also need to think about your choice of communication channels with potential customers and how to promote your business.
Identify your target audience (audience) – who do you want to sell your product or service to?
You cannot sell effectively if you do not know to whom you are selling. Defining the target group, i.e. the main recipient of promotional activities, is a very important stage in creating a marketing strategy. When determining your target, or the characteristics of the people who are most likely to become customers, precision and accuracy are crucial. So you should think about whether your customers are mainly men or women? What is their age? Where do they live? What are the characteristics of their purchasing decisions? Do they make most of their purchases under the influence of emotions?
To make it easier for yourself, you can divide the picture of your potential customer into 3 parts – in the first part you specify the demographic data (age, gender, education, etc.), in the second part the geographical data (mainly place of residence), and in the third (the most detailed) you describe the interests, life goals, and purchasing decisions of your potential customer. It is not worth neglecting this stage of creating a marketing strategy, because clear definition of the target can reduce the risk of wasting money on ineffective advertising.
Choosing the tools needed to create a marketing strategy
Creating a marketing strategy is a difficult task. Fortunately, you can use popular and readily available tools to help you work through its many elements.For example, to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your business, you can use the SWOT analysis already mentioned. To find out what potential customers really need, use free tools that show the popularity of keywords (e.g. Ubersuggest or Google Search Console and Keywords Planner) and the Brand24 website, which allows you to monitor new mentions that appear on the Internet on a particular topic.
In order to get better acquainted with your industry you can use the so-called perception map, i.e. a chart with the characteristic features of your offers for a given market and the so-called desk research, i.e. an analysis of your competitors’ features. Next, it is worth taking an interest in the so-called market mapping, i.e. an activity that helps to select appropriate communication areas. At this stage of work on the marketing strategy you should formulate the so-called brand pillars, i.e. elements that will form the core of your company’s functioning. The brand pillars can include, among others, the brand’s core values, its personality (characteristics), its business purpose (the customer problems your company is supposed to solve), RTB, i.e. the evidence that authenticates the brand promise and what differentiates it from its competitors. Choosing the right tools has a very big impact on your overall marketing strategy and business objectives.
The most popular communication channels – how to reach potential customers and what marketing activities to choose?
A marketing strategy must also include the choice of communication channels to be used to reach potential customers. Communication channels are divided into offline marketing channels (e.g. banners, posters and flyers) and digital marketing channels (e.g. websites, social media and email). Offline advertising can still be effective in some industries, but more and more companies are focusing on online promotion. Popular online communication channels include apps, blogs, websites, newsletters, social media, online events and conferences, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, webinars, and digital product sales (e.g., e-book and courses). Although there are no “universal” means of communication that will work for every industry, a marketing strategy should include investment in channels such as website creation and positioning and social media promotion (the choice of the website itself, however, depends on the specifics of the industry) and paid advertising campaigns.
What are the key performance indicators of a marketing strategy?
There is no point in implementing a marketing strategy if you cannot control its effectiveness. To avoid this, you should identify the so-called key performance indicators (KPIs) already at the planning stage of your activities. These are data that directly indicate the progress towards a specific goal (e.g. towards achieving sales at a certain level). You should select the indicators that are key for the further development of your company and take into account that the performance indicators will change over time. It is a good idea to evaluate your efforts regularly every few weeks based on market share gains and revenue growth. In the early stages of implementing a marketing strategy, KPIs could be monthly sales growth, website traffic growth, number of leads gained, number of new followers or social media likes, subscribers signed up to a newsletter or conversion rate.
What should a ready-made marketing strategy include? – 10 key elements
A ready-made document that includes a marketing strategy is usually dozens to even over a hundred pages long, depending on the size of the company and the industry. So what elements should be included in a ready-made marketing strategy?
- Identification of what the company’s strengths and weaknesses are
- Analysis of the competition and marketing activities of competing companies
- Determination of the target group (target) and customer persona
- Selection of communication channels and distribution strategy for each of them
- Key performance indicators
- Marketing strategy implementation plan
- Marketing plan for RTM (real time marketing) activities
- Specific “things to do” list for the first few months of marketing strategy implementation
- Definition of the amount of space left to react to market situations and unforeseen events
- Anticipated time period for achieving the main marketing objectives
Preparing a marketing strategy – by yourself or with the help of an outside company?
After reading our article, you may be under the impression that creating an effective marketing strategy that will really help your business grow is very difficult. This is true, but if you are willing to take the time to learn some marketing topics, you should be able to prepare an effective strategy for your business on your own. If not, then the most practical solution will be to work with an outside marketing firm. The professionals will then do a thorough analysis of your company, competition, industry and take care of all the elements of the marketing strategy for you. They will also take care of planning specific promotional activities and provide a fresh “outside perspective” on your business.