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How to Develop a Marketing Strategy in 7 Steps

Develop a marketing strategy feature
Developing an effective marketing strategy is crucial for any business. Image credit: Johannes Plenio

Today, almost all businesses are concerned about how they market themselves online. However, many business owners don’t really understand how to develop a marketing strategy properly.

Many people don’t realise that there’s more to marketing strategy than scheduling a few Facebook posts and hoping for the best.

Instead, a proper marketing strategy means identifying the people who need your products or services, and coming up with systematic ways to target them.

A marketing strategy is so essential we’d recommend making it an immediate, urgent priority if you don’t already have one in place.

Today, we’re going to cover everything you need to know.

What Is a Marketing Strategy?

Marketing is what a business does to help the buying and selling of products or services. It’s the process of understanding what potential customers want and value, and then figuring out the most appropriate way to offer it to them.

It’s putting the right product in the right place, with the right price, at the right time.

You want people to buy your products or services. So how do you present what you offer in a way that appeals to your target audience? Why should they choose you over your competitors?

That’s what marketing is here for.

Marketing is a vast field composed of multiple components falling within a marketing strategy.

Components of a marketing strategy
There are many elements to a successful marketing strategy. Image credit: Business2Community

To be a successful marketer, you need to thoroughly understand your customers. You need to listen to your audience and constantly improve upon your business to meet their needs. Crucially, communication is always key and must be maintained.

Creating a marketing strategy means bringing all of these elements into alignment.

Of course, how this looks in practice varies from business to business. Here are the two main strands of marketing strategy.

B2C Marketing

In B2C marketing, businesses sell products or services to consumers for their personal use.
B2C marketing has the following distinct characteristics:

  • B2C takes a shorter time to process than B2B,
  • It’s easier to form a relationship with a consumer than with a business,
  • Decision-making is simple where a consumer usually makes it based on price and product,
  • Consumers are influenced by emotions,
    Buying decisions are mostly based on quality, price, security, and emotional connection.

B2B Marketing

Business-to-business marketing, or B2B marketing is when one business targets another
What makes B2B marketing different?

  • B2B takes a lot longer to process than B2C,
    It’s a relationship-driven marketing communication that requires time and focus,
  • The decision-making process is complicated as the sale goes through numerous people before it gets an approval,
  • Not influenced by emotions like consumers are,
  • Buying decisions are mostly based on increasing profitability, the level of credibility, and improving productivity.

Most businesses target both consumers and businesses simultaneously but with different messages to reach such different audiences.

B2B vs B2C marketing strategy
B2B and B2C brands use different marketing strategies. Image credit: PayBlog

What is the Process Behind Developing Marketing Strategy?

A marketing campaign without a strategy is a direct route to lost opportunity. Any campaign needs a marketing strategy and any marketing strategy needs to follow marketing strategy steps to be implemented properly.

This process should outline a simplified map of the company’s objectives and how to achieve them.

Marketing strategies can have a range of different time spans. Generally though, this should be long enough to achieve long-term objectives but short enough to be flexible to change.

Naturally, any company’s main objective should be securing their customers’ satisfaction with their products and services and to be leaders in their category.

Three Phases of Strategic Marketing Process

Any marketing strategy can essentially be broken down into three phases. These are as follows:

1. Planning Phase

Planning is the most important phase of any marketing campaign. The goal is analysing everything, giving an overall picture on the state of the organisation. There are a number of different ways to go about planning your marketing strategy.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis means analysing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your business to find out your company’s position in the market. Ask as many people to contribute to this as possible to get different perspectives and points of view.

Knowing what you’re good at and what you lack will help you in forming an effective marketing strategy. Specifically, you want to use SWOT analysis to uncover new opportunities to promote your brand online.

You should also look out for threats and weaknesses, including competitors who have more sophisticated marketing strategies, or bigger PR budgets than your own.

After completing the analysis, use the results for developing a marketing plan that’s measurable and attainable.

Identify the Right Marketing Mix

After determining the customers’ needs and deciding on the product, you should develop a marketing mix. This will focus on the four P’s and the budget needed for each of them.

  • Set goals: Setting goals meets customer needs to increase a product’s success rate.
  • Points of difference: Find your product’s unique selling point that makes it superior to competition.
  • Positioning: Position your brand as the “go-to” product in people’s minds. Associate your brand with the solution your customers need.
  • Target market: Select the appropriate target market based on research and commonalities to meet both needs and goals.
4 Ps of Marketing
It's crucial to achieve the right marketing mix. Image credit: OnDemandCMO

2. Implementation Phase

Once you’ve conducted through planning, you can use the next four steps to put the program into effect:

  • Secure resources: Cash should be secured to develop and market products,
  • Design marketing organisation: Rank the marketing to properly implement plans,
  • Develop schedule: Give time for each task to be accomplished,
  • Execute marketing plan: Implement the strategy and tactics in your marketing plan and pay great attention to detail.

3. Evaluation Phase

Any issues with your plan should be quickly corrected before it results in trouble for your company. Any positive deviation should be utilised and taken advantage of.

Keep evaluating the effectiveness of your marketing campaign and improve upon it as needed.

To effectively evaluate your marketing strategy, pay attention to:

  • Strategy versus tactics: The strategy are the goals put in place while tactics are the actions taken to achieve them,
  • Measurable: Objectives should be measurable to know when you’ve achieved them. Regularly check in on your progress, to see what’s working and what isn’t.
  • Marketing strategy: Support your marketing strategy with a business plan that has tactical moves.

How to Develop a Marketing Strategy in 7 Steps

Like any competitive business, your ultimate goal is to get customers and the public engaged with you.

So what are the marketing strategy steps that any successful business should follow? And how would those marketing strategy steps achieve your goals?

Follow these seven steps that are a basic structure for how to develop a profitable relationship with your customers:

Step One: Set Marketing Goals

Set marketing goals that match your business objectives. Marketing doesn’t exist on its own and aligning it with other business aspects will save you a lot of time and effort.

Your objectives should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, resourced, and time-bound) to be effective. Some examples of appropriate goals include:

  • Build your brand identity: Build a brand identity that will stick in your consumers’ minds. Find the empty space in the market that’s enough for you to fit in. Position your products and your company in a way that makes them memorable.
  • Gain new customers and retain your existing buyers: It’s important that you always continuously strive to gain new customers to keep moving forward with your business, while also keeping your older loyal customers satisfied.
  • Drive profitable sales: With time, your revenue should begin to exceed your cost expenses, just enough for you to make a sales profit. It doesn’t happen overnight and it takes multiple steps and a great deal of effort, but when it happens, you’ll feel the success.
Smart goals
SMART goals are important to make sure your marketing strategy is effective. Image credit: AbundanceDefined

Step Two: Determine Your Target Audience

Narrow down your target audience. Settle on exactly who you want to target with your product and messages.

Create a character profile for your target audience. Make it personalized as if you’re describing a specific person to help you better understand your target audience and their wants and needs.

This character profile should include your target audience’s:

  • Demographics: Age, gender, geographic location, socioeconomic class, educational level, etc.
  • Psychographic characteristics: Interests, likes, dislikes, habits, hobbies, etc.
  • Media usage: How many hours do they spend on social media per day? How many hours do they spend watching TV or listening to the radio? How much do they rely on the media for information?
  • Behavioral actions: This examines their past purchase patterns and consumer behavior.

Step Three: Develop Your Offer

Understand your business and what you want to offer to your target audience.
Define the specific details of your product or service. Use the four Ps to help you develop a good enough offer to successfully attract your target audience.

  • Product: What’s your product/service? Are there any further incentives, such as guarantees or customer service? Moreover, what sets you apart from your competition?
  • Price: How are you pricing your products/services? And is your price worth what you’re offering?
  • Place: Where can consumers buy your products? Can they find your offerings in various locations?
  • Promotion: Are there any special offers or time limits? Moreover, how do you communicate with your customers?

Step Four: Be Creative

Be creative in how you present your product/service to your target audience and the public.

  • Branding: What’s your brand’s position in the market? Is your brand identity consistent and vividly established in your advertising?
  • Product benefits: What benefits does your product offer your target audience?
  • Media: Creative presentation is influenced by which media channel you’re using. Consider advertising through owned media, paid media and social media.
  • Call-to-action: How will your advertising get people to take an action and go buy your product? How will you persuade them to take that step?
  • Response channels: How should your customers respond to your call-to-action? Online, or through going to retail stores, or phoning you?

Step Five: Choose Your Channel

Choose the medium to distribute your messages in a format that is easy-to-consume for your audience and make sure it reaches the maximum number of potential customers.

  • Owned media: Media platforms owned by your company such as your website, email, and blog.
  • Paid media: Media platforms owned by other media entities so you would have to pay to use them.
  • Social media: If you want to extend your reach then social media is the way to go. Social media’s not constricted by geographic factors and is relatively cheaper than traditional media. Also, social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are becoming more and more popular by the minute.

Step Six: Test Your Marketing Strategy

After planning your strategy and executing it, you need to keep improving upon and adding to it. How do you do this?

Run several tests and retests to make sure that the results are accurate and haven’t changed over time.

So what should you be testing?

  • Target market: Are you targeting the right people? Moreover, are they interested in what you’re offering? Should you expand your target audience? Or would it be better to work on retargeting your products?
  • Offers: Is there anything you want to change about your offerings? Or are the price, packaging, and features suitable enough?
  • Creativity: Is your advertising creative enough to capture the minds and hearts of your consumers? Are the visuals and the text creatively attractive?
  • Media channels: Are you using the appropriate media channels to reach your target audience at the right time? Is the format of your campaign suitable to the media you’re using?
  • Devices: Are you exposing your audience to your marketing campaign on different devices that they use, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers?

Step Seven: Measure the Results of Your Success

This last step is the main reason why we put SMART objectives that are specific and measurable.

The only way to know if your marketing strategy has truly succeeded or not, is through measuring the results and whether they met the pre-set goals, fell short, or exceeded expectations.

How Do You Write a Marketing Strategy?

Now that you know how to go through your marketing strategy steps, how do you write a marketing strategy?

Your marketing strategy is a powerful part of your business plan. You need to make it as effective and as relevant as possible to your target audience.

Determine Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Any marketing strategy should be based on a unique selling proposition.

A unique selling proposition is what makes your business stand out, it’s what differentiates you among your competitors.

Marketing strategy USP diagram
A strong USP is essential for your marketing strategy. Image credit: Shopify

Know Your Audience

Make sure your marketing strategy is applicable to your target audience. Find out what your customers need, what they want, and what they expect.

You also need to thoroughly research your audiences preferred channels, and which marketing messages they respond to.

Be Open to Change

Don’t just stick to traditional thinking. You can tweak your four Ps to adjust them to your target audience. If something isn’t working the way you expected, it’s best to change course sooner rather than later.

For example, you might have overestimated how much people are willing to pay for your products.

Stick to a Budget

Keep a budget in mind when you’re writing up your marketing strategy.
Your marketing strategy can look good on paper but unless you stick to a budget, it’ll be difficult to achieve it.

How to Develop a Marketing Strategy

Make sure the marketing strategy steps you use are suitable for your specific business and always keep yourself up-to-date on the newest technology and trends.

A marketing strategy can vary from very simple to extremely complex, but it’s hard to go wrong with these time-honoured marketing strategy steps.

Reach the right people, at the right time, with the right price, in the right place, with the right messages, through the right channels, and you’ll be marketing your business in the best possible way.

If you need to develop an effective marketing strategy, the best option is often to bring in the professionals. Contact ProfileTree today to find out how we can help.

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