“Millions of pounds are wasted every year by ineffective marketing.
Quite often vast sums are spent telling the wrong people about the wrong product at the wrong time!
Understanding the market, identifying the potential consumer, and careful planning can save essential time and money.
Our best analogy is that of a talented fisherman.
There is little sense in sitting anywhere around a lake and hoping for great results if time invested surveying ripples will tell you where to succeed, and how best to do so.
Amvoc also believes that all too often there is a feeling that if a process works then why look to improve it?
The answer is simple. If you do not - then somebody else will.
Rather than hoping to be an evolutionary survivor, how about beginning the revolution and making your competition worry?
There is always room for improvement, but if you spend all of your time looking from within, often the answer will not appear to you.
Amvoc believes that the old adage of ”two heads are better than one" is multiplied exponentially by four or five very experienced marketing minds.
Let us look at things from a fresh perspective and prove to you that things can always get better!”
Understanding your strengths and weaknesses
Your strategy must take account of how your business' strengths and weaknesses will affect your marketing.
Begin your marketing strategy document with an honest and rigorous SWOT analysis, looking at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Strengths could include:
• personal and flexible customer service
• special features or benefits that your product offers
• specialist skills
Weaknesses could include:
• limited financial resources
• lack of an established reputation
• inefficient accounting systems
Opportunities could include:
• increased demand from a successful customer
• using the Internet to reach new markets
• new technologies that allow you to improve product quality
Threats could include:
• the emergence of a new competitor
• more sophisticated, attractive or cheaper versions of your product or service
• new legislation increasing your costs
• a downturn in the economy, reducing overall demand
Having compiled this list, you can then measure the potential effects of each and how they may affect your marketing strategy.
For example, if new regulations will increase the cost of competing in a market where you're already weak, you might want to look for other opportunities.
On the other hand, if you have a good reputation and your key competitor is struggling, the regulations might present the opportunity to push aggressively for new customers.
Developing Your Marketing Strategy
With an understanding of your business' internal strengths and weaknesses and the external opportunities and threats, you can develop a strategy that plays to your own strengths and matches them to the emerging opportunities.
You can also identify your weaknesses and try to minimise them.
The next step is to draw up a detailed marketing plan that sets out the specific actions to put that strategy into practice.
See our guide on how to write a marketing plan.
Questions to ask when developing your strategy
• What changes are taking place in our business environment? Are these opportunities or threats?
• What are our strengths and weaknesses?
• What do I want to achieve? Set clear, realistic objectives.
• What are customers looking for? What are their needs?
• Which customers are the most profitable?
• How will I target the right potential customers? Are there groups that I can target effectively?
• What's the best way of communicating with them?
• Could I improve my customer service? This can be a low-cost way of gaining a competitive advantage over rivals, keeping customers, boosting sales and building a good reputation.
• Could changing my products or services increase sales and profitability? Most products need to be continuously updated to maintain competitiveness.
• How will I price my product or service? Although prices need to be competitive, most businesses find that trying to compete on price alone is a poor strategy. What else are my customers interested in? Quality? Reliability? Efficiency? Value for money?
• What is the best way of distributing and selling my products?
• How can I best promote my products? Options might include advertising, direct marketing, exhibiting at trade fairs, PR or marketing on the web.
• How can I tell if my marketing is effective? A small-scale trial can be a good way of testing a marketing strategy without committing to excessive costs.
Tips and pitfalls
Before looking at new markets, think about how you can get the most out of your existing customer base - it's usually more economical and quicker than finding new customers.
Consider whether you can sell more to your existing customers or look at ways of improving the retention of key customers.
Focus on the market
Your marketing strategy document should:
• analyse your understanding of the different needs of different groups of customers
• focus on a market niche where you can be the best
• aim to put most of your efforts into the 20 per cent of customers who provide 80 per cent of profits.
Don't forget the follow-up
• Put your marketing strategy into effect with a marketing plan that sets out actions, dates, costs, resources and effective selling programmes.
• Measure the effectiveness of what you do. Be prepared to change things that aren't working.
Pitfalls to avoid
• Making assumptions about what customers want.
• Ignoring the competition.
• Trying to compete on price alone.
• Relying on too few customers.
• Trying to grow too quickly.
• Becoming complacent about what you offer and fail to innovate.
To develop a successful marketing strategy it is essential to understand your customers and their needs.
The ability to satisfy your customers' needs better than your competitors will help you build customer loyalty and increase sales.
However, both customer needs and the business environment in which you operate are constantly changing.
Therefore a marketing strategy will need to look at what changes are taking place, and at what opportunities and threats are emerging.
A marketing strategy will also help you assess how successful you are at meeting your customers' needs, as well as how successfully your competitors are doing so.
It may also help you identify new markets that you can successfully target.