Interim Executive - Marketing Strategy Basics
We frequently hear the statement "what was successful last year isn’t working anymore, so what can we do to find the magic again?" There really is no easy answer, but there is a process that will enable you to find success with your marketing initiatives.
1. Analyze the market: The better you know your industry, your customers, your competitors and yourself, the better you will make good decisions that give you leverage in your marketplace.
Some of the basics include knowing your S.W.O.T. -Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Strengths and Weaknesses are internal to your organization, and Opportunities and Threats are external to your organization. Find places and ways to leverage strengths and to minimize weaknesses.
Another key is understanding where you earn your greatest profits, as a percentage and in total dollars.
2. Target the best prospects: You have hundreds if not thousands of different target options for finding new prospects. The most important step in finding the right prospects is to ask the question: "Which prospects are easy to acquire, difficult to steal, provide significant margins in sufficient quantities, and will be loyal to you over the long run?". These are your best prospects. And, they really do exist.
Identify them by industry segment, size, commodity, geographic region and any other means to clarify where you will spend your sales time and effort. For example, one of our transportation clients targets the shipping of eggs throughout the mid-west. They have found a market where they can be highly targeted, very profitable and in a space where they can be ‘the best’. And, their results are exceptional.
3. Focus your strategies for best leverage: The three key strategies commonly identified are a) market focus, b) pricing and c) differentiation. Unless you are the very biggest of companies where economies allow you to dramatically lower your operating costs, we recommend focusing on specific markets (market focus) or differentiation as your primary strategy.
Make your company strategy to be your defining mark and match your special capabilities to those prospective companies most needing those capabilities. Maybe you are ‘experts’ at designing special engineered solutions for your customers. Concentrate on making that be the focus of your business.
4. Match the marketing elements to your strategy: Most everyone has heard of the four P’s of Marketing – Product/Service, Price, Place, and Promotion. We don’t have space to go into detail here, but suffice it to say that these four marketing elements need to be consistent with your overall marketing strategy. If you are following a differentiation strategy then your marketing elements must match that strategy.
5. Develop a Unique Selling Proposition: This fifth step is simply developing a more refined definition of your primary strategy. The Unique Selling Proposition is the identification of one or two key things that make your company stand out in your customers’ minds. What makes you ‘unique’ to your targeted prospects? Examples of these include things like exceptional communications, simplified ordering process, ability to deliver products more quickly, or any number of other ‘special’ or ‘unique’ capabilities.
One key thing to note, your Unique Selling Proposition must be something your prospects really want from you. If not, they will look right past you to someone else.
Once identified, make sure that everything you do supports your unique selling proposition and let everyone you serve know what it is.
6. Create actions to deliver results: The next step is to list key initiatives and actions you need to take to make your marketing initiatives work for you. For example, maybe you need to review your pricing to see if your ‘extra services’ justify a price increase. The key to successful marketing is clearly identifying those actions that enhance your impact with customers.
7. Execute your plans relentlessly: The saying "a mediocre plan executed relentlessly will always outperform a perfect plan imperfectly implemented" is absolutely true. More times than not, we find one of the key differences between a good company and a great company lies in their ability to execute on their plans.
8. Evaluate results: If you have executed your plans well, it is time to measure your progress. Evaluation of results is imperative if you are to improve. And, don’t just look at the numbers, also look at qualitative results. Talk to customers, vendors, prospects and even employees to see how well your plans are working with them. They will tell you.
9. Make adjustments to your plans: Finally, don’t just sit on your successes. Continue to refine and adjust your plans and actions in a continuous effort of improvement. The marketplace is in constant flux which means that today’s solutions won’t necessarily work tomorrow. Keeping a constant vigilance on your customer reactions and your competitor adjustments will help you win in the face of competition.
Nine simple steps will make all the difference in being an exceptional marketing organization with a consistent flow of new customers.
Which of these steps have been the most important consideration for you?