It’s a common misconception that marketing is just fancy communications, a splash of creative advertising or hosting some top notch events. But marketing is a strategic function that develops relevance, creates demand, analyses the competition and builds your reputation, alongside, of course, ultimately generating sales. And like it or not, every business needs strategic marketing to deliver results.
But not everyone is a marketer – even those in charge of marketing, in fact I can only think of two occurrences in my (long-ish) career where the Head of the Marketing Department had any marketing training! So if you’re not a marketer, and want to know what value it can add… this one’s for you!
Strategic marketing allows your business to focus its valuable resource in the best possible way to deliver increased sales. Well, that sounds good, but just how does that happen?
Strategic marketing isn’t tactical – it doesn’t even look at communications and promotions until it has first established some very strong foundations:
Everything starts with research. Before you speak to your customers – you must listen. Understand them, their motivators, concerns and pain points. By using a mix of qualitative and quantitative research you’ll start to build a picture of your customers’ needs and wants.
Once you understand your customers you’ll then be able to segment your audience and work out who your primary and secondary targets are. After working out who to target, it’s time to plan your positioning against the wider competitive landscape.
So, by this stage you’ll know:
Which customers you’re targeting
How you’re positioning yourself to those customers
What’s your objective with those customers
This is where the nitty gritty of marketing is done – and where most companies, incorrectly, start their marketing.
Product: What is the product / service that you’re offering? How does that meet the needs of your customers. From a strategic angle you’d want to look at where that product is in its lifecycle.
Price: How much will your customers pay for the product / service? What is the real and perceived value? How will supply costs, discounts and competitors affect the price?
Place: Where and how will your customers buy your product / service? Can this scale? And how does this experience impact their perception of the brand?
Promotion: What are your messages? How will you get these messages to your customers? Which channels work best for your customers?
The purpose of all marketing is to drive sales and grow your business. The execution may look like a simple direct marketing campaign (on the face of it) – but if it’s done right, there’s hours of analysis, planning and preparation that sits behind that delivery.
Successful business transactions don’t happen by chance. Focusing on strategic marketing means you’re targeting the right people, with the right message at the right time – to generate more opportunities to sell.