Asking questions and truly listening to the answers is a skill that can help one no matter your profession or walk of life. In this article we’ll touch on the questions you must ask to build a strong marketing strategy. We will look at the importance of crafting a mission statement, analyzing the market you wish to target, creating personas and more.
Any marketing plan begins with research and in learning first, what you want to carry out and why. To create a strong and effective marketing strategy you’ll need to ask effective questions. What is the end game? What do we want to accomplish and why? Who is my target market? Who are my competitors?
If you’re in sales you’ll need to ask: Do people even want this product? What problem does it solve? There are few things worse in sales than building a product or service you think people want, only to find out that the reason nobody came up with this idea before is that nobody wants what you’re selling.
To build a strong marketing strategy we need to first start with a solid foundation.
A mission statement is the building block upon which a marketing strategy depends. Your mission statement tells your customer who you are, what you do and how you view the world, and what value you offer.
A well-crafted mission statement will help you build a strong marketing strategy, as well as give your employees direction and a sense of purpose. A mission statement sets the tone and answers the question of what you do and why you do it.
Some people gloss over the mission statement as unimportant. Resist that temptation. A mission statement is your first chance of introducing your brand to the world. Make it count.
Consumers today are by and large, much more sophisticated than in the past and a strong marketing strategy will take that into account. With the market moving from mass manufacturing to mass customization companies can’t rely purely on demographics to reach their target market.
Depending on your product or service, you need to decide who your customers are, where they live, what they do, how much money they make, what they like to spend it on, and what might keep them up at night.
The more you drill down, the more specific a marketing plan will be.
What is a persona? Is it a person? According to UX Magazine, a persona is a cluster of users who show similar behavioral patterns. This may be clear in their purchasing decisions, use of technology or products, service preferences, and lifestyle choices.
Information gleaned through the building of personas will show customer motivations, attitudes and behaviors belong to a common type that is not bound by gender, age, education or income. This allows companies to offer products and solutions that are customized to a niche audience, one that will be interested in what has been created for them.
Study Your Competition
In sales, you will generally want to avoid the temptation to reinvent the wheel. To understand your customers and build a strong marketing strategy is to know your competition. Study them. Know what they are selling, especially if they are selling to customers who fit the persona you’ve built. Understand what your competitors do well and where they may be lacking.
SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats
If you’re not familiar with that acronym you should learn it and incorporate this method into building a strong marketing strategy. Taking time to measure the SWOT of your competition as well as your own business is key to your success.
“Know thy enemy but not yourself, wallow in defeat every time.” Sun Tzu The Art of War
What’s Your USP?
After you’ve determined your own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of your competitors it’s time to talk about what makes your company unique. A USP or unique selling proposition illustrates what sets you apart from your competition and gives people a reason to want to do business with you. A USP statement identifies what you do better, and gives customers confidence that your company is the right choice.
Your Target Market: How Will You Reach Them?
You’re putting the pieces in place and things are coming together and now you’ll need to start thinking about a promotional plan that incorporates all communication that will take place between you and your customer.
Remember, that marketing strategy is the outline, the marketing plan is how you’ll carry out your strategy and your promotional plan is how you will actually reach your target audience.
Promotional plans will vary according to industry and the market segment you’re addressing but in general, they’ll include the following:
These are broad categories and within them, you’ll find many subsets. As mentioned earlier, consumers are more sophisticated today and have come to expect a higher level of customization, whether they’re buying a car or planning a vacation. It is vitally important that your promotional strategy recognizes this. Your promotional plan should be both agile and flexible enough to speak effectively to your potential customers.
When building a marketing strategy you must first begin with questions that will hopefully give the answers needed to be successful. Begin with your mission statement, decide what you want to do and why and what core values will represent your brand. Ask who your customers are and then go about building personas that will represent them, their behaviors and desires. Study your competition after first studying yourself to find strengths and weaknesses and then create a marketing strategy and plan to carry out your vision.