Let’s begin with an answer to the question “What is marketing strategy?’. This popular expression tends to be mistaken with promotion or advertising strategy. Marketing strategy shows how you’re going to use your 4 Ps – product, promotion, price and place, to improve your business results. Your marketing strategy should answer these 4 questions: what you are going to sell, how you are going to price it, where potential customers will be able to find your products and how you are going to promote it. On the top of that, it should contain goals you want to achieve so that you’re able to see how effective your strategy is.
So how to build a good marketing strategy? I’ll walk you through all 4 elements of marketing mix, show you best practices and give a few tips. Following these guidelines will help you create a strong and effective marketing strategy with little effort.
The first step is to define your product (or services). What do you sell? If you’ve been around for some time, look at the structure of your revenue. What do people buy the most frequently? Pareto rule probably works well and 20% of products secure 80% of revenue. Identifying them will help you promote them better.
Also, you can consider adding new products. Doing it blindly can be dangerous, this is why you can ask your visitors or customer what they would like you to offer.
Tip: take a look at this case study to learn how RaveNectar used surveys to find out what visitors want him to sell.
Now you know what you’re selling. How to set prices to maximize your profit? Some would say ‘Rise prices – you will grow your margins!’, some would say ‘Cut prices – you will attract more customers!’. I won’t tell you which solution is the best for you. What you should do to find it out is to test. You can raise or cut prices of some products by a few percent and observe what happens.
It’s more difficult when you’re about to start a new business – you don’t have data to compare. What you can do is to analyze pricing strategies of your competitors and conduct a small market research.
Tip: if you want to know more about setting prices, take a look at this guide based on experience with pricing experiments.
How are you going to reach buyers? It’s a tough question even for brick and mortar stores – there are hundreds of ways you can arrange products on shelves, you can even consider going online. You can also sell your products in your own store or offer it to resellers. There are many options you to consider.
If you already sell products in your online store, you can consider selling products on platforms like eBay or Amazon to reach even more customers.
Products rarely sell themselves and promotion is a key to a successful business. You can offer great products for low prices in a fantastic store but you will quickly go broke if you have 0 customers. This can be the most complicated issue due to a number of possible options. You can advertise your business on social media, run AdWords or display campaigns, try marketing or content marketing, retargeting and a number of other online marketing techniques. On the top of that, there are all the techniques of offline and local marketing you can consider.
To make your marketing strategy strong, you should focus on all points because only then they will fulfill each other. Example: cutting prices won’t bring satisfying results if you don’t promote discounts. On the other hand, raising prices won’t help neither if you don’t upgrade your store or a website to make it look more high-end or offer additional services.
Don’t forget about setting goals
Before you implement your marketing strategy, think about metrics you will use to track progress. It can be profit, revenue, a number of sold items or any other metric that will clearly show your progress. The next step is to prepare a detailed action plan. What and when are you going to do and what are the expected results? To make planning easier, you can use a technique of setting SMART goals. It means they should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bounding. More on this topic and a free template.
After implementing your marketing strategy, keep track of your progress. Did you want to double your revenue in 12 months but after 6 months there’s only 10% increase? Then you should go back to sketching board. Check which actions brought expected results and which didn’t work. Then think why it happened and how you can improve your performance. Implementing results of such analysis can lead you to significant gains and thus make goals more likely to be achieved.
Lucjan Kierczak is an inbound marketer at Survicate– an app that makes collecting feedback from customers easy and quick. Collected answers will show you what your visitors expect from you, what problems they face or what’s preventing them from buying. You can find Lucjan on Twitter or LinkedIn.