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Your Overall Marketing Strategy

Your overall marketing strategy should be the general approach you take to achieve your objectives. Your marketing strategy determines the activities you will undertake to attract and retain customers. It is the everything that your business does to the dedication of attracting and retaining customers, but marketing strategy is focused externally on customers while other strategies are focused internally on the business itself (and only indirectly on customers).

Be sure to remember your strategic objective, which is your vision of what your business will be once it is all done. Your marketing strategy should be the part of your overall strategy that focuses on your target marketing and how you will attract and retain existing and prospective customers. I see many businesses that only focus on the strategic objective for marketing but forget to include the financial and management strategies for your business as well.

You should have six components to your marketing strategy:

1. Target Market – Not everyone is a customer for your products. Your products are perfect for some kinds of customers, but may be completely inappropriate for others. The first step in developing your marketing strategy is to identify your target market. You should look at the overall market and identify its various subgroups, or “market segments.” Then once this is done, you need to evaluate them and select the market segment which will produce the best results for your business, which is also called your primary market segment and any other market segments that will produce desirable results which are also referred as “flanker market segments.” Before you start identifying your “market segments” think about how you describe a market segment. What enables you to differentiate one market segment from another, while enabling you to identify the specific prospective customers you want to attract your business and your products?

2. Developing a Positioning Strategy – Developing a positioning strategy depends much on how competitors position themselves in the market place. Do organizations want to develop “a me too” strategy and position themselves close to their competitors so consumers can make a direct comparison when they purchase? Or does the organization want to develop a strategy that positions themselves away from their competitors? Offering a benefit that is superior depends much on the marketing mix strategy the organization adopts. The pricing strategy must reflect the benefit offered and the promotion strategy must communicate this benefit. All in all, positioning is about how you want consumers to perceive your products and services and what strategies you would adopt to reach this perceptual goal.

3. Market Sensory Package - Your company’s sensory package is the combined look, touch, feel, smell and taste of your business and your products and/or services. It is the way your customer experiences your business. Just as your body language and facial expressions add meaning to your words, your business’ sensory package adds meaning and impact to the way you do business with your customers. To understand your sensory package, you must experience it as your customers experience it. Be sure to understand how it feels to be your customer. It is the way your facilities look, feel and smell. It is the way your customers are treated by your staff and it is your customer’s feeling that “This is my kind of place. I belong here. I get what I want here.” Your sensory package must appeal to the needs and preferences of your primary target market. It must be designed to impact the unconscious minds of your customers – not their logical minds – and create positive associations and expectations of gratification. The colors and shapes used in your communications should be selected for their visibility, retention, preference and positive associations. Your company name, as well as your product names, should accomplish four objectives: (1) differentiation/positioning; (2) instant recognition; (3) favorable associations and impressions; and (4) promise of emotional gratification.

4. Marketing Mix - Product, Promotion, Pricing, and Fulfillment. Marketing mix is a foundational marketing concept that has stood the test of time and for good reason. It is basic and makes sense – and it works! The marketing mix is any combination of marketing activities and techniques a company uses to attract and retain its customers. The essence of developing a marketing strategy is to find exactly the right marketing mix for your target market. A company’s marketing mix can have any number of elements, but they all fall into four categories: (1) product; (2) promotion; (3) pricing; and (4) fulfillment. For best results, all elements of your marketing mix must be firmly grounded in your Positioning Strategy and make effective use of your USP, Positioning Statement, and sensory package. Always take the customer’s point of view when making decisions about your marketing mix. Also be sure to keep in mind that the purpose of the marketing mix is to attract nd retain customers. Accomplishing this requires your utmost attention to customer satisfaction, remembering… satisfaction is what the customer says it is, not what you think it should be.

5. Competitive Analysis – Competition can be the spice of your life or the bane of your existence. Your competitors will drive you crazy if you let them, but they can get your competitive juices flowing and inspire you to greater achievements than you would otherwise reach.

Who do your target customers buy from when they do not buy from you? And what do they buy? That is your competition! Your competition is not always in the same business you are. Keep alternatives and substitutes in mind. Once upon a time railroad companies dominated the transportation market. Competition was other railroads, or so they thought. It turned out that the real competition was the automobile and, later, airplanes. Now railroads are the afterthought in the transportation industry. Movie theaters compete with bowling alleys and books. Health food stores compete with fitness centers. Plumbers compete with hardware stores. The idea is to understand who your competitors are, how effective they are, and your competitive standing in your target markets. Then you can determine how to compete better. First, identify who your main competitors are – the five or ten who do the best job of attracting the customers you want to attract. Then you should evaluate their positioning, as well as their major strengths and weaknesses. Finally, determine your own competitive effectiveness and decide where you rank among them. This competitive analysis, plus the insights you have already trained from studying your target markets, will enable you to select the marketing mix you will need to excel in your markets.

6. Key Marketing Indicators – Tracking your Marketing Strategy. You should look at the size of your market as a whole. Next, look at what part of the market you “cover” with your marketing activities. Determine how much of your market coverage can be converted into interested potential buyers. Then measure how many of those potential buyers actually convert into customers. This is like a funnel that narrows at each step of the process. You can quantify each level of the funnel with indicators of marketing effectiveness – your key marketing indicators – and track how well your strategy is working. Your key marketing indicators are: (1) market size; (2) market growth; (3) market potential; (4) market coverage; (5) lead generation; (6) lead conversion; (7) market share; and (8) average sale.

In the above processes, you will develop the marketing mix for your business that enables you to become more effective in attracting and retaining customers. This will enable you to put together a written marketing strategy using systems and processes to gather the information needed to develop your overall marketing strategy and use metrics along the way.

By: DJ Heckes

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