Marketing strategy planning is a critical component to the success of any company. If you have a great marketing strategy then your business can experience explosive growth. If you have a poor marketing strategy it can be the death of your business. If you are reading this blog article I am guessing you are looking for ideas on how to develop your marketing strategy. But before I provide some ideas, what exactly is a marketing strategy? To answer this I thought I would first look at the definitions of the terms used in our question.
What is marketing?
According to the dictionary it is "the commercial processes involved in promoting and selling and distributing a product or service"
What is strategy?
According to the dictionary strategy is "the science or art of combining and employing an elaborate and systematic plan of action, the branch of military science dealing with military command and the planning and conduct of war"
So then a marketing strategy could be defined as an elaborate and systematic plan of action and combat of a company for the commercial processes involved in promoting, selling and distributing a product or service versus its competitors.
If we accept this as the definition for a marketing strategy then how do you go about creating one? Below is a set of steps you can take to develop a marketing strategy. This is by no means the only way to develop a marketing strategy. From the definition we know it is partly an art and very rarely is great art created by a step by step process.
Steps To Develop A Marketing Strategy
1. Understand your opportunities and threats
Get a clear understanding of each opportunity or threat in terms of its likely hood and dollar value. Count opportunities and threats as equals. If in the coming year you have the alternative of increasing profit by $100,000 in market B and losing $100,000 in profit in market A or protecting $100,000 in profit in market A but not increasing profit in market B they are equal opportunities. In addition take a look at the likely hood of something actually happening. If you have a 10% chance of increasing profit in market A by $100,000 or a 80% chance of increasing the profit in market B by $50,000, market B is the better opportunity. Coming up with these number will not be easy or completely accurate, but by reviewing things you should be able to get a good understanding to see the obvious conclusions. This will help you in determining what your goal should be. If you set your goals before doing this research you may miss out on a big opportunity or be blind sided by an unforeseen threat.
2. Set your goals
Once you know the opportunities and threats for your business set goals that are going to benefit your business the most, making sure that the goals are realistic.
3. Document the current situation
Get a clear understanding of the current situation including, who your customers are, who your competition is, what is happening in the markets you compete in, what is happening within your company and how your current profit is derived across customers, markets and products. Sometimes just by putting the information down on paper all in one central location insights will come to light that you did not see previously.
4. Assess both yours and your competitors' strengths and weaknesses
Do you have sufficient strengths to corner are particular segment of the market. Do you have strengths that will make customers choose you over your competition. If yes what are they, if no can you change your business to develop a strength that will make some customers want to choose you over the competition? Do you competitors have any weaknesses that you can play off of to steal market share? Use research to validate your assumptions. Your customers and the markets opinions of you and your competition may be significantly different then what your perceptions are. At the end of the day it is your customers and the markets perception that matter so you will want to make sure you understand them correctly, even if this will cost you a little bit of money.
5. Assess your competitors current actions and project their future actions
Get a good understanding of what your competition is doing. Then take a look at what you expect them to do in the future. This is actually easier then what you may think. Start by putting yourself in their shoes and determining what their goals are. If they are a public company check their annual report to see what their goals are. If they are private take a look at how they have acted in the past or ask yourself if you were running their company what your goals would be. Once you have a good understanding of what you believe their goals are to be think of all the alternative actions they could take to pursue those goals, including the option of doing nothing/making no change to current actions and activities. Then narrow the list down to the three you feel would be the best options. Most likely if you think they are the best options, your competition probably will think the same thing. At this point you will most likely have a much better understanding of how your competition may act in the future, which allows you to plan accordingly knowing this ahead of time.
6. Develop a plan that focuses on your strengths and plays against your competitors' weaknesses
Marketing is all about telling people why they should buy from you. But to convince people to buy from you, you need to have a reason for them to buy from you. The key to success in marketing is using your strengths to your advantage. If you can simultaneously attack or play off your competitors' weaknesses this will only lead to further success. This includes not only your product's strengths but utilizing all of your companies strengths whether it be distribution, IT, staff etc in your marketing tactics and methods. If you have a stronger IT department then your competition utilize technology in your marketing tactics. Your competition will not be able to combat or copy this because they can not match your IT strength. If you have done a thorough job of all of the above steps the picture will most often become very clear as to what is the best strategy to pursue. When developing a strategy also be sure to get a second, third or fourth opinion. It will dictate the success of your business so it is worth the time to review it with multiple people.
Anyways I hope this blog was helpful or at least interesting. Once you have a clear understanding of the strategy it will help you develop your marketing plan where you will select the proper marketing tactics and methods to execute your strategy and deliver on your goals.
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If you are looking to create or revamp your marketing strategy feel free to Download our FREE Marketing Plan template to help you with the process. Thanks for reading this article on marketing strategy planning.