Five key elements of a GREAT marketing strategy
Ahh, ‘strategy’. One of the most misunderstood and misused phrases of modern business! As a Marketing Consultant, the majority of my work with clients is researching and developing marketing strategies, and the main misconception about ‘strategy’ is that it’s often misinterpreted as ‘a plan’, as ‘objectives’ or as ‘tactics’.
The easiest way to look at it is this: Objectives outline what you want to achieve; Strategy outlines how you will achieve it.
What are the 5 key elements of a strong marketing strategy?
Developing a marketing strategy is all about deciding how best to allocate the marketing budget, people and other resources available to you in order to best achieve the marketing objectives, and ideally, it will do the following:
1. It targets ‘real’ segments
Since resources and time are not infinite we need segmentation to help ensure we deliver the best possible experience to our most valuable customers. There are lots of ways to segment your market. Examples include:
- Buyer behaviour
- Internet profile
- Media usage/behaviour
The most common (but much less useful) segmentation process that many companies use is typically just a classification into ‘groups’, based on whatever data is available – such as: age, gender, income (in B2C) or industry, size and usage (in B2B). BUT: Successful segmentation relies on you choosing the variable that is the most predictive of profitable behaviour based on customer needs.
2. It tailors your offer to defined segments
Your marketing strategy should make a particular ‘offer’ to defined customer segments based on your knowledge of the needs of each, which should result in the delivery of customised marketing to each defined customer segment. In practice though, you may not be able to afford total customisation in your marketing; but the greater you manage to match your offer to the needs of the individual customer, the more successful you’re likely to be.
This follows the logic that given a choice, the customer is most likely to choose the offer that best matches their particular needs. If no offer meets their particular needs better than the others, then the customer usually buys on price. But, if you’re trying to establish yourself as a premium brand, then competing on price alone may put you in a very vulnerable position!
3. It makes a unique offer to your customers
How unique is your offer?
How different is your offer in comparison to that of your competitors?
Uniqueness works because it effectively side-steps your competition, rather than going head-to-head with it. To test your offer’s uniqueness, ask yourself:
“What would happen if my business disappeared overnight?” Would it:
- Be missed?
- Have no obvious replacement for your customers?
- Would they feel significantly saddened by your disappearance?
4. It anticipates the future.
Markets are constantly changing. So too, are customer needs. Then there’s distribution – the channels change, and your competitions’ offer changes…and so on. Think through the needs that currently drive your customers’ behaviour and how these are changing. Then address those needs. The strongest marketing strategies anticipate change, and target / design the offer accordingly.
5. It’s SWOT aligned.
Marketing strategies work best when they make good use of what your business is better at than its competition (its strengths and competitive advantages) – whilst avoiding the effects of any relative weaknesses that you have. By doing this, the business targets segments where it’s more well-placed to compete.