Everything You Need to Know About a Marketing Strategy & How to Develop One

Everything You Need to Know About a Marketing Strategy & How to Develop One

Every growing company that deals with customers, or any type of outside contact, needs a bulletproof marketing strategy. Most people are introduced to the marketing strategy when they first hire a marketing manager, and they ask about it. This article will help you get ready even before you hire a marketing specialist, to get a clear view of your goals, and methods way ahead of time.

Learning about this can help you be prepared for meetings with marketing specialists, or it can even launch a self-developed marketing style if your budget doesn’t allow for a lot of employees just yet.

“Marketing strategy” means a plan of action designed to promote and sell products and services efficiently. When and why should you worry about developing such a strategy? It’s important to know that a lot of midsize and even large companies don’t have marketing plans. Of course, they are able to stay afloat, but at what cost? These companies usually only have a list of projects that include social media posts, website updates, and so on, but there’s no understanding of how these affect the company, or how they can utilize them better to achieve their goals in the long run. To summarize, not having a marketing strategy, while doable, will eat money, and time, and is not a smart investment in the long run.

In contrast, companies that follow a detailed marketing plan have competitive advantages. They’re able to operate more smoothly and efficiently, and they have a clearer vision of what they want to achieve, by when, how, and what that’ll cost! A simple marketing strategy can lift a weight off the company’s shoulders. As to the question of “when should I develop a marketing plan”, the answer is, whenever you feel like it’s time to organize.

As mentioned above, companies can survive without it. But once a company is thinking about having a more active social presence, or when it starts becoming scattered, overwhelming, and just all over the place, the smartest decision is to create a strategy. The sooner you start, the better. 

What Do You Need to Include?

A marketing plan is a complicated thing to put together, but once you create a “to-do list” of all you need to go over and include, you’ll be fine. And of course, the most important thing to keep in mind is that these sorts of plans are there to be updated. Not on a weekly basis, but every now and then, you’ll need to adapt, and that means you’ll have to modify your strategy. And that’s okay.

Market Research

The first thing you’ll need is in-depth market research. Profile your competition, as well as your target audience. Research customers, who they are, and jot down every detail of that demographic. Then research the product or service you’re about to sell. What’s out now? What are others doing? This is a great place to dive into the competition. The next thing is looking up sales statistics and detailed research regarding the industry. This will include all scary things, like financial stats, graphs, and so on. The last thing needed here is gathering the vendors you can rely on – if you need one.

Mission Statement

This step is more fun. It basically gives an identity to your company. This is a few sentence description of you, your company, what you provide, and why everyone should choose you. This is one of the more creative parts and can be done quickly and effortlessly. If you don’t know how to go about it, just start with writing down an elevator pitch, and go from there.

The 4P’s of Marketing

The 4P’s of marketing are essential details you can’t leave out when creating a strategy. These are product, place, price, and promotion. This helps firmly place your business and your products/services within the industry. Here’s a great way to relate to each “P”.

  • Product: what issues or problems do your products solve? Why are yours better than all others? What does your customer want, and why will they buy it?
  • Place: where can people find you and your services/products? How do clients and customers get information about you?
  • Price: what is your value? How will your price compare to others? How will your demographic reply to your prices?
  • Promotion: what platform will you use? How will you get your message across? Who are you targeting? When is the best time in the year to promote?

Writing all this down doesn’t only help in developing a marketing strategy, but will help you identify your company within a tiny circle in the industry. It will help point out your competition, and your target audience. The crucial role it plays in the marketing strategy is just a happy bonus.

Your Marketing Goals

Marketing and company-sized goals should be realistic, and detailed. These goals should include timetables, financial calculations, and everything you know about reaching that goal. For long-term goals, the equipment you need can be hazy at first. But goals for the next couple of months can be researched. What will you need to invest in? How much? Do you need more manpower? When will you reach that goal? What will it do to your company?

For example, maybe you want to gain 10 more long-lasting clients, and spend only $8.000 in the next 6 months. In this case, you need to figure out how you can reach more clients. Why aren’t you attracting more? Maybe you need more activity, or maybe you need to try in a different place? As for the financial goals, what are some things you could cut back on? What are some great investments that can turn a profit fast?

A good rule of thumb is using the S. M. A. R. T. method: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.

The 4 Pillars of a Foolproof Marketing Strategy

Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

Inside the marketing strategy lives 4 other plans that are better to consider in order to get the most out of your overall marketing strategy. These are all linked to something you’ve most likely already researched, but they create new, deeper, denser strategies within your big plan. Especially if you’re planning on hiring a marketing manager, you’ll need to have a clear view of these.

Product Strategy

This pillar is about walking through to what the product is, therefore what is being consumed by the customer. Having a detailed product strategy will illuminate goals, and places to grow or update. You can easily see through your product’s current quality, value, features, and function, and go from there. It’s up to you how important you think this part is. Some companies leave this out completely, while others consider it to be their number one priority.

A product strategy can be easily fine-tuned, by prioritizing, and varying combinations of the product’s quality, value, features, and function, to meet the needs of a specific niche. For example, some companies work on creating quality, high-priced products, while others focus on and prioritize well-developed features and functions, leaving the other two to adapt.

Service Strategy

This pillar is all about customer support and customer satisfaction. How is your customer service compared to your product value and quality? A great example is looking at different banks. The most “elite” banks offer high-end concierge services, and faster customer service, in exchange for a higher-priced premium and exceptional services. The quality of your customer service is a tactical choice you must make. Not every demographic craves high-end customer service, so this decision should be rooted in your customer-based research. 

Pricing Strategy

Your pricing strategy will determine your value and should be viewed as a silver lining between your service and product strategies. Let’s take Walmart. Because of their extremely low prices, people don’t expect outstanding customer service. In contrast, more “elite” boutiques, banks, salons, law firms will offer V.I.P. packages, hot lattes, amazing interior design, and comfortable chairs, in exchange for high prices. A great example is looking at dollar store coffee that lives in a dirty aisle, and Nespresso. The latter’s shops include well-dressed salespeople, sample coffees for free, and 100+ tastes to choose from, therefore, it will be priced higher. Or take an Apple store, an expensive hair salon, or Starbucks. Pricing strategy is all about quid pro quo. What are you willing to give, in order to raise profit, and gain more customers? Are you willing to redecorate? Hire better employees? Get a fantastic coffeemaker?

Promotion Strategy

Promotion strategies pinpoint the best way to win over prospective clients. There are a lot of different ways one can go about creating a promotion strategy. Here are a few options, and most companies use more than 2 of these strategies actively, and smarter companies have a written gameplan for each one that targets specific goals and demographics.

  • Networking
  • Direct marketing (tell your story actively, every chance you get)
  • Advertising
  • Training programs, courses
  • Articles & blog posts
  • Trade shows (great for creating professional contacts)
  • Cold-Calling (this is a MUST!)

Adjusting all four pillars to compliment each other is the key to a well-balanced and successful business. Creating these strategies is also a great way to keep in sight what you need to spend more on, and where you can cut back. Maybe you put more money into something that doesn’t add to your long-term goals when what’s important has been neglected.

The 4 Types of Marketing Plans

The number four keeps coming up, but you can relax, this is the last of them. Marketing strategies can be separated into 4 types, depending on your goals, focus, and the industry of your company. The idea of there being four types of marketing strategies was detailed in a now popular Harvard Business Review article. In 1957, a Russian-American engineer, Igor Ansoff, a founder of strategic management, argued, and worded, that strategic planning was essential for firms operating in a complex, turbulent environment. He was the one to identify four strategies aimed at business growth. These strategies are types of investments, activities, and are defined by whether the focus is on new, or already existing products/markets.

Market Penetration Strategy

Anyone selling an existing product to a customer base is pursuing a marketing penetration strategy. This entails marketing activities, such as

  • Emphasizing increasing the loyalty of customers, so that they don’t navigate towards the competition,
  • Increasing the frequency of product use,
  • Converting non-users into users,
  • Lots of marketing and advertising communication.

Think of any skincare, phone, or car brand, and you’ll soon see the pattern mentioned above in their activities. One specific example would be the ad campaign for orange juice with the tagline “it’s not just for breakfast anymore”. This is a great effort to expand the frequency of use.

This strategy comes with the least amount of risk, as people are relying on the two things they know best: their product, and their customers.

Market Development Strategy

This strategy entails expanding a company’s sales, by selling an existing product in a new market. Marketing activities include newly creating product awareness, developing distribution channels, and adapting to product modification that is needed for breaking into a new market, especially when expanding geographically/internationally.

To start implementing this strategy, companies are relying on an existing and well-known product, but they don’t know the customer base well. This raises the risk factor, and turning profit may take longer, because of the aforementioned actions one must take.

Product Development Strategy

An existing company creating new products for existing customers is pursuing a product development strategy. For this, strong, loyal relationships are needed with the customer demographic, a relationship the company has to rely on completely. A great example is cable television expanding, and offering telephone and internet services next to their existing product. The number one marketing activity needed is thorough research and development above all.

This strategy takes longer because companies need to develop, test, and produce a new product. But the profit is greater, and introduces itself faster, due to the ease of raising awareness, interest, and availability because of the strong customer base of the company. Because a firm customer base is necessary for this step, this strategy may be riskier than the others.

Diversification Strategy

This strategy is basically starting a new company. It entails introducing new companies to a new market (new for the company). Of course, this is the riskiest strategy, as there’s no active marketing, no customer base, and no firm product. But this article is for all those who belong in this category, as the fastest way to turn a profit in the shoes of a newbie, is by following all the steps in the first part of this article.

Starting, developing, modifying, expanding, or, as a matter of fact, doing anything with a business is hard and risky, but this is a risk company owners need to take in order to grow in their desired industry. It is a risk for all passionate professionals out there who want to give something back to the world. And for all these great, ambitious people, the only way to go is forward, and the only way to go is quick. And these strategies and plans are the best way to go forward, fast as lightning.

Author Bio

Russell Ridgeway is an American writer based in Budapest, Hungary. He writes in business, tech, and fashion as well as creative fiction. You can reach him by email (russell@lensawork.com), or on LinkedIn and other social media platforms.