This is the second part of my post on important elements of a marketing strategy In these posts, I would like to share a more general view on marketing, without getting into detail on the tools and strategy implementation.
One of the most important steps in creating a marketing strategy, in addition to defining the products you offer and your target customers, is defining who you are. In other words, your company identity and how you want to communicate it.
Remember that your company is a solid part of your brand. Do not neglect corporate identity elements, such as logo, colors, fonts, etc. Once they are set, use them consistently in the marketing and sales materials, as well as internal documentation.
This is arguably the most important company asset and should be part of your marketing strategy. This aspect, is, of course, not just limited to PR efforts for senior management. A lot of tech companies employ “product evangelists” to personalize their marketing. Apart from this, sharing personal employee stories, e.g. on social media, may contribute to the positive image of your company and create more trust.
Mission and vision statements
Although they may seem unimportant at first, a well-formulated set of values and a common vision can become a driving force for company development. They can also be the “glue” that holds different people together.
Although it may sound ironical, it is equally important to define who you are not. Trying to serve more customer segments and flexibly adapting your company image accordingly will confuse your customers. In the worst case, they will start distrusting you.
Someone once said that companies should stop concentrating on beating the competitors and instead focus on delivering value to their customers. Although I share the same view, this doesn’t mean that you must disregard the competition.
Learning from competitors
Learning from competitors has two sides to it. On the one hand, you can benchmark the strategy of your more experienced /successful competitors. On the other hand, you can also learn from their mistakes. Take a critical look at:
- Structure and design of their websites
- User journey on the website
- Selection of social media channels and shared content
- SEO strategy (backlinks opportunities, keywords, etc.)
- Content types used for content marketing
Direct and indirect competition
In order to understand who your competitors are, you can think in terms of competition levels (e.g. a model by Lehman & Winter).
You probably concentrate on your direct competitors (product form competition), however, try to think of competition in a wider sense. Product category competition includes similar products that can differ in functionality or design. Generic competition is the next competition level that includes products that can be used as substitutes but do not offer the same features or benefits. Budget competition comes from products allocated to the same part of consumer budget (e.g. “entertainment”, “housing”, “education”).
I put marketing tools at the end of this list on purpose. If a company lacks experience in marketing, they tend to concentrate on the tools too much. It is not uncommon that they ask such questions as: “Shall we use Google AdWords?”, “What do we write in our blog?” before they defined who they are, what products they offer and who their target customers are. (I talked about this in one of my older blog posts on mistakes in marketing).
One well-known model for marketing decisions is 4 P’s by McCarthy (Product, Place, Price, Promotion). If we adjust this model to online marketing, the promotion will include:
- Advertising (Google AdWords, display, etc.)
- PR (Social Media, blogs, guest articles, etc.)
- Direct selling (e-mail marketing)
- Promotion (e-coupons, free trial, etc.)
You also need to make decisions on how to position your product, what pricing strategy you will choose and what your sales channels will be.
All in all, when crafting your marketing strategy, you need to go through several distinct steps and plan carefully. Also, remember that once the strategy is selected, you need to follow it consistently. Making too many changes and adjustments along the way will inevitably result in time and budgetary losses.