In this post, I will outline the most important steps in creating your marketing strategy. If you start with this checklist, the rest of your marketing strategy will fall into place more easily.
Marketing Step 1: Who am I?
The first and foremost thing to do is to define your company. This includes the type of the company (a start up, a small local business, a medium-sized company, etc.) and the line of business you are in (banking, catering, consulting services, retail, etc.). Also, think about your branding strategy, i.e. how you want your customers to perceive you. You can use different brand-building models. One very well known model is brand identity prism. At this point, you do not have to worry about brand appearance (logos, colors, etc.). Instead, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- What does my company (brand) do?
- What impression do I want to make as a company (brand)?
- What is the personality of my company (brand)?
- What relationship does my company (brand) have to the customer?
- What kind of people are my customers?
- What are my company (brand) values and principles?
For example: Tuscolo is a small local chain of Italian restaurants that serves real Italian food in a friendly and familiar atmosphere. It incorporates tradition and creates authentic Italian experience through its interior, service and food presentation. It caters for families, couples and groups of friends and colleagues who want to enjoy good food in a relaxed setting.
Marketing Step 2: What is my offering?
Decide, what products and/or services you are going to offer. Do not think in terms of what you can possibly offer. This will produce difficulty in creating a well-defined product portfolio and diminish any marketing efforts.
So, how do you define your offering? On the one hand, there should be a market for it (do some market research or ask your current customers and business partners). On the other hand, this should be something you can do or produce really well (see Step 4). Additionally, think about what is feasible to offer at the current company state. Then, you will also need to define the key features and properties of your products or services.
Marketing Step 3: Who are my customers?
The next important element of your marketing strategy is customers. To make things easier for you, you can use the following plan. Firstly, think in terms of generic target group definition – such B2B or B2C customers and the geographical area you want to serve.
Add parameters such as the size of company and the line of business (for B2B) or age and gender (for B2C). Secondly, specify this by segmenting within your target group. E.g. large vs medium-sized companies, retail vs wholesale, etc. Third, dive deeper into the definition of each segment and develop customer personas. In case of B2B, that would be profiles of individual decision makers. Try to understand their motivation, their needs and wants, how they communicate and what they expect from a product or a service.
Marketing Step 4: What is my USP?
USP or Unique Selling Proposition is the cornerstone of every marketing strategy. It is what sets you apart from competition. Basically, it is the reason Why for your customers. You can develop a generic USP for the company or think in terms of USP’s for separate products or USP’s for different customer segments.
For example, you own a bookstore specializing in nonfiction literature located close to a university. The first customer segment is students. The USP for them is low prices/discount schemes and fast in-store delivery for the books they require for their courses. Another customer segment are university researchers and professors. The USP for them is different: a large range of specialized books in several languages available upon request and courier delivery services. You may have more segments and USP’s: people living in the vicinity of your shop (you have a good coffee bar), hobby researchers (your employees take time to provide advice on a variety of subjects and make literature recommendations), etc.
Generally, you should not jump into doing anything or start spending marketing budget before you have made these four steps and created a solid foundation for your marketing strategy.