How you create a marketing strategy – a good one – is critical to the success of any business. So, you’ve got a “thing. A product (or service) you think is so awesome, it’s going to change the world. Or at least, it’s going to be great for a bunch of people, if only they knew about it. Your marketing strategy is how the future of your business will take form. It’s the foundation of everything, and it starts with asking yourself some important questions.
- Why would people want this product?
- Who are those people?
- How will they find out about it?
- Who else has it?
- What are people prepared to pay for it?
Firstly, what exactly IS a marketing strategy?
It’s more than telling people about it. It’s more than advertising. A marketing strategy is a long-term look at the future of your product, your customers and your market.
What’s the difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy?
A marketing strategy is a broad view direction, whereas a marketing plan is each step you take to get there. Your marketing strategy is unique to your goals, your product and your customers, while your marketing plan details the actions you need to take to achieve these goals.
A good marketing strategy starts by asking ‘why’ – why would someone want your product? Then ‘who’ – who are you looking to sell to? Then you ask ‘what’ – what are their frustrations? Followed by asking ‘where’ – where do they go for answers/help? Then look at your competitors.
Let’s start with the Why
Why will people want your product? They’ll want it because it’s cool, right? Sure! Maybe. But do they need it? Do they want it? Yes, because they have a problem, or something missing in their life (real or perceived) and you have a solution to that problem, you have what’s missing. It’s a better alternative. It’s a better price. It does more. It looks great. It’ll make their life easier. It’ll make them look or feel younger. It’s just better! (That’s cool that you believe it. Getting your potential customer to believe it, and buy it – that’s your goal.)
So, who are these people?
Aside from wanting or needing your product, what else do you know about them? Gender, age and location is all pretty general stuff, so you need to create personas for the various types of people who you think should buy your product. What are their needs? What are their problems? What are they interested in? What do they value? What does their average day look like? What sort of budget do they have to spend on a product like yours?
Where do they go? Who do they listen to? What do they see? (How will they find out about it?)
Where do your ideal customers go for answers and information? Do they talk to friends and family? Do they spend all day on social media? Do they follow groups and influencers? Do they read the newspaper, listen to the radio on their long daily commute?
Understanding your audience and knowing these things about them will determine the most effective channels in which to engage, educate, entertain and maintain a relationship with them, for future sales. Select several channels and be heard.
Who else has it (the competition)
Who is it that’s keeping you awake at night? Who has an interesting product, but shows their customers no love? Who gets talked about but has a sub-standard product? Who has a low cost product and is making no money? Identify these threats and tackle them one by one.
Structure a marketing plan
Work back from your launch deadline and develop a tactical plan to guide who does what, when and how, as well as tools, processes, and best practices.
Create an editorial calendar to schedule marketing activities — social media, content marketing, advertising, conferences, etc. And remember to allocate a budget to each channel.
Then get out there and tell your story
Good stories are compelling. They engage, inspire, motivate and break through the noise. Create strategic messaging for different channels and be ready to tell and share your story.
Your story will be the foundation for your marketing and sales efforts. It should have clarity and consistency so that employees, partners, investors and key stakeholders speak from the same page. A good story makes a hero of your customer and helps you connect with target audiences, eliminating confusion about who you are, what you offer, and why your customer matters.