As mentioned in a previous post, If You Read One Article about Marketing Strategies Read this One, effective marketing strategies require strategic planning and consistent implementation. In this post, we’re gonna’ talk about How to Get it Done!
The 5-Step Marketing Strategy Process
Just as with any human endeavor, there is a process involved with marketing; a set of actions to be taken to ensure success. In sports, we practice. When entertaining, we rehearse. In marketing, we must understand and develop the fundamental actions required to implement an effective marketing strategy, then work to make them successful. Once we’ve learned the basics, once they’ve become second nature through practice and rehearsal, we can then move on to more advanced methods for success.
The basics of the marketing strategy process are:
- What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – the thing that sets you apart from your competition
- What are the Benefits vs. Features of your Product or Service – the specific ways in which your target audience will benefit from doing business with you
- How would you Define your Market Niche – where you belong in the Big Picture
- How would you Define your Target Audience – who will benefit most from doing business with you
- Which Marketing Methods will be Most Effective – where you will offer your products or services to your target audience
Before we move on to a deeper look at each of these steps in the process, it is incumbent on me to suggest that you spend some serious time reflecting on each of these aspects of your marketing strategy. Find a quiet place to think and work and, if it’s helpful, bring along a glass of wine and relax as you work to determine the best possible descriptions for each of these concepts. (Please remember though, I did suggest a glass of wine, not an entire bottle!)
Your Unique Selling Proposition
Without doubt the most important step in the Process, your USP will determine to a large extent the direction you take in answering the other questions in the list above. More than a simple “elevator speech” but considerably less than a Sales Page, your USP should leave the reader wanting more; more information about you and your business. It should make you stand out from the crowd in unique and compelling ways.
When crafting your USP, it may help to think in the same terms as your target audience. Ask yourself the same questions they might ask if they were trying to understand why you think you and your business has more to offer them.
What is it that you offer that is different from your competition? What makes you better than the other guy? How can you help me more than the gal that’s one click away? What do you have to offer that she doesn’t? how do I profit from doing business with you, that I wouldn’t with her/him/them?
The answers to these questions will go a long way to determining you unique selling proposition. They will help you figure out the ways that your product or service differs from the competition in the eyes of your potential client, as well as helping you define your business for yourself. With a clear understanding of your own business as your foundation, answering the remaining questions becomes much simpler.
What are the Benefits vs. Features of your Product or Service?
Although it flies in the face of popular thought, it cannot be said often enough that customers buy benefits, not features. After all, every car on the market comes with four tires, an engine, and a transmission, so the fact that your does too means little. Your customer wants to know what it is that makes your “car” better than all of the others, not what makes it the same.
To make your product or service unique and compelling to the potential buyer, you must clearly outline the benefit – to them – of buying from you. The best way to accomplish this is to list at least three benefits for every feature of the product or service you offer. Don’t over-sell it, but be clear that the benefits far exceed the features.
How would you Define your Market Niche?
Understanding the niche your service will be a great help in defining your target audience and the best means of getting your message to them. You will have a much better grasp of your competition – and how to beat them. To determine your market niche, ask yourself some of the following questions:
Does my product or service have a broad-based or narrow appeal? What does my competition offer that I do not? what do I offer that my competition does not? Who is my strongest competition and who is my weakest? Where can I fit myself between them?
Once you answer these questions you will have a much better sense of where and how your business fits into the marketplace, which is a very large step toward becoming successful.
How would you Define your Target Audience?
It should go without saying, yet seldom does, that only by knowing and understanding your potential customer can you hope to satisfy their needs – and keep them coming back for more. Are you marketing to stay-at-home moms, who may have a great deal of time to cruise the web looking for what they need? Or, are you offering products or services to high powered executives who have little time for “shopping around” for the things they need? Is your offering need driven or ego driven? Is it necessary or is it a luxury?
All of these questions and more will help you to get a solid fix on your potential customer, your target audience, enabling you to better serve their needs and wants.
Which Marketing Methods will be Most Effective?
Hmmm … “Where should I focus my marketing efforts?” you ask. It’s a good question; perhaps the most important of all, besides the four that preceded it, of course.
In today’s online marketplace the possibilities are almost limitless; from a marketing website to an expert blogsite to an article marketing campaign; from the social network for marketing to video to slide shows; from teleseminars and webinars to podcasts and audio presentations, the methods available for promoting products and services online are nearly as numerous and varied as the entrepreneurs who have devised them. How does it all work? It’s a mystery.
Actually, it’s not as large a mystery as it seems, with an integrated marketing strategy being the most effective; employing all of the above methods to one degree or another. In this, it is common – and often wise – to seek help from an online marketing expert to help you determine the level of commitment to each spoke of the marketing strategy wheel.
Wherever you choose to place the greatest effort though, it is the commitment you make, and the follow-through on that commitment, which will determine the level of your success.