There are several elements to consider when you are developing your marketing strategy.
Your existing and potential customers fall into particular groups or segments, characterised by their 'needs'. Identifying these groups and their needs through market research and market reports, and then addressing those needs more successfully than your competitors, should be one of the key elements of your marketing strategy.
Targeting and positioning
You should aim to sell to the market segments that will be most profitable for your business. It is important that your product offering meets the needs of your chosen target market.
You should create a marketing strategy that makes the most of your strengths and matches them to the needs of the customers you want to target. For example, if a particular group of customers is looking for quality first and foremost, then any marketing activity aimed at them should draw attention to the high quality of your products or service.
Once you have created your marketing strategy, you must then decide which marketing activity or activities will ensure your target market know about the products or services you offer, and why they meet their needs.
There are many ways to achieve this - such as various forms of advertising, exhibitions, public relations, digital marketing and an effective 'point of sale' strategy. Try to limit your activities to those methods you think will work best with your target market, to avoid spreading your budget too thinly.
Monitoring and evaluation
Monitoring and evaluating how effective your strategy has been is a key element, yet often overlooked. This control element not only helps you see how your strategy is performing in practice, it can also help inform your future marketing strategy.
A simple approach is to ask each new customer how they heard about your business. Deeper analysis can come from questionnaires, focus groups and examining customers’ online behaviour.
Once you have decided on your marketing strategy, draw up a marketing plan that sets out how you intend to execute that strategy and evaluate its success. The plan should be constantly reviewed and, if necessary, updated so you can respond quickly to changes in customer needs and attitudes in your industry and in the broader economic climate. Read more about how to write a marketing plan.