Planning a Marketing Strategy – 5 Questions You Need to Ask
Are you writing your business plan, ramping up your marketing or evaluating your business as it stands today? There are many ways to define your proposition and to go on and sell your business by communicating your offering effectively. You need to be planning a marketing strategy. Fundamentally, everything boils down to a few key questions you can ask yourself about your business. If you’re a sole trader… it makes things a lot easier to sit down and talk this through with a friend or mentor.
1)What Does Your Company/Product Stand For? Why should customers choose you?
This isn’t as tricky as it sounds… It’s basically the single most compelling or different thing about what you’re offering. You need to have a USP or Unique Selling Point to stand out from the crowd and to ensure customers choose you over the competition. This shouldn’t take you long and may even come from the initial reasons you went into business. Did you build the foundations of your company on being especially green, cool, charitable, Scandinavian, economical or ethical? Whether your widget is only produced with recycled items or your service offering is based on value and quality it’s great to define this and use it to help promote your offering. It will help you define your USP, help in planning a marketing strategy and set you apart from your competitors
2) Who are you targeting? Who is your ideal customer?
Whether it’s stay at home mum’s in Essex or ABC1 males, teens with Nokia phones or unemployed women in their 20’s its imperative to understand who your customer base is or will be. If you already know who is buying from you it’s worth revisiting and looking at who else you may be able to target too.
Pen portraits are basically a picture of someone – anyone, who looks as though they could be your customer. What’s great about them is that they really help you define your communications.Presently I am working on a new app which helps stay-at-home parents and carers plan their day around feeding, washing loads, school runs and general chores. So I have created 2 pen portraits of my customer base to help pinpoint my marketing plans.
Dave is a stay-at-home dad, his wife, Grace, works in the city and Dave has 2 girls,
Polly is 1 and Maisie is 5. Everyday Dave is tasked with a list of to do’s emailed over by Grace from her commute. Everything from picking up some more milk to collecting a passport renewal form from the post office to ordering some new school shorts online or hoovering and changing all of the beds. Dave reads the Guardian and is constantly scrolling through Twitter and Facebook.
Ann is a grandmother to Bertie, Bobby and Oliver. Ann’s daughter and son in law both work and so Ann has to care for her elderly mother between school runs and the 3 boys. Ann is an active member of the WI, an occasional facebook user and likes spending time with family, especially her husband.
Whatever your product or service you need to research and understand your end user, whether it is another business or a consumer, by learning as much about them as you can you can tailor your approach and target your comms to reach this audience.
3) Who is your competition and what are they doing?
Without it consuming your existence its really important to monitor your key competitors. Look at what other products/services they’re offering and where and how they promote them. By monitoring the activity going on around you it is possible to see what works and what doesn’t work, as a consumer. It can also be quite inspiring and help give you some pretty good ideas for your own activity. Do avoid publically criticising the competition though, it will only reflect poorly on you!
4) How do you meet your prospective customers needs?
If you’re a plumber you can fix taps, boilers and install bathrooms. It’s a really good idea to define your services and to list everything you can do/offer – how about guaranteeing your work for 12 months to help reassure your customers and offer some added value? Or if you, like us, work in marketing, we have a vast list of the services we offer on our website but also as a rate card to help us cost a project. We identified a need for an ‘out of office hours service’ allowing our client base to work on their business when they’re not working in it, making the marketing functionality more accessible to them. Think about your client base and what they need. Then add what you can reasonably do and make profit on.
5) What Do You Say? How Do You Say It? What’s your look and what are the messages you’re communicating?
Global clients pay £000s to have an agency define their brand for them. They establish a tone of voice, use of language, do’s and don’ts, logo design (with strict rules for how and where the logo can be used), a strapline that summarises the brand proposition and imagery that represents the brand and is described as ‘on brand’. Whether you only speak in the 3rd person, your brand has a female voice, is irreverent or straight talking it’s really beneficial to establish your style, especially if you’re using social media (as you should be of course). This helps determine the type and style of content you curate through your chosen channels and the messages you communicate to your audience.
Once you’ve answered these 5 questions you will have a much clearer picture of how to be planning a marketing strategy. If you struggled answering these questions or would like help answering them then please get in touch as we would love to help you.