Effective marketing starts with a considered, well-informed marketing strategy. A good marketing strategy helps you define clear, realistic and measurable marketing objectives for your business.
Your marketing strategy affects the way you run your business, so it should be planned and developed in consultation with your team. It is a wide-reaching and comprehensive strategic planning tool that:
describes your business and its products and services
explains the position and role of your products and services in the market
profiles your customers and your competition
identifies the marketing tactics you will use
allows you to build a marketing plan (the tactics to deliver) and measure its effectiveness.
A marketing strategy sets the overall direction and goals for your marketing, and is therefore different from a marketing plan, which outlines the specific actions you will take to implement your marketing strategy. Your marketing strategy could be developed for the next few years, while your marketing plan usually describes tactics to be achieved in the current year.
Write a successful marketing strategy
Your well-developed marketing strategy will help you realise your business's goals and focus on the actions required to reach the right customers.
Developing a marketing strategy that includes the components listed below will help you make the most of your marketing investment, keep your marketing focused, and measure and improve your sales results.
Identify your business goals
Align your marketing strategy to the business goals outlined in your business plan; you can then define a set of marketing goals to support them. Your business goals might include:
- increasing awareness of your products and services
- selling more products from a certain supplier
- reaching a new customer segment.
When setting goals it's critical to be as targeted as possible so you can effectively measure the outcomes against what you set out to achieve. A simple criteria for goal-setting is the SMART method:
- Specific – state clearly what you want to achieve
- Measurable – set tangible measures so you can measure your results
- Achievable – set objectives that are within your capacity and budget
- Relevant – set objectives that will help you improve particular aspects of your business
- Time-bound – set objectives you can achieve within the time you need them.
State your marketing goals
Define a set of specific marketing goals based on the business goals. These goals will motivate you and your team and enable you to track your success.
Examples of marketing goals include increased market penetration (selling more existing products to existing customers) or market development (selling existing products to new target markets). These marketing goals could be long-term and might take a few years to successfully achieve. However, they should be clear and measurable and have time frames for achievement.
Make sure your overall strategies are also practical and measurable. A good marketing strategy will not be changed every year, but revised when your strategies have been achieved or your marketing goals have been met. You may need to amend your strategy if your external market changes due to a new competitor or new technology, or if your products substantially change.
Research your market
Research is an essential part of your marketing strategy. You need to gather information about your market, such as its size, growth, social trends and demographics (population statistics such as age, gender and family type). It is important to keep an eye on your market so you are aware of any changes over time, so your strategy remains relevant and targeted.