By Caroline Berryman, CMMP
Developing a marketing strategy is an important step before attempting to change behaviours, increase sales or increase consumer loyalty. The focus of a marketing strategy should ensure that your products and services meet customer needs while developing long-term, meaningful relationships with those customers. To achieve this, you will need to create a flexible strategy that can respond to changes in customer perceptions and demand.
The purpose of your marketing strategy should be to identify and then communicate the benefits of your business offering to your target market. Once you have created and implemented your strategy, monitoring its effectiveness and making adjustments are required to ensure its success. One of the key elements of a successful marketing strategy is identifying existing and potential customers into groups or segments. Identifying these groups and their needs through market research is the next step. There are datasets available that can help you target existing and potential customers through a variety of variables including language, geography, specific behaviours (e.g. commuters) social values and media habits to name a few.
Your marketing strategy must include a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis. With an understanding of your internal strengths and weaknesses and the external opportunities and threats, you can develop a strategy that incorporates your own strengths and matches them to the potential opportunities. It will also allow you to identify your weaknesses and proactively manage them.
With this analysis, you will be able to create a marketing strategy that maximizes your strengths and matches them to the needs of the customers you want to target. For example, if your target audience values loyalty programs, then any marketing programs targeting them should incorporate rewards. A key element often overlooked is the process of monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of your strategy, which will help you see how the strategy is performing and it can also help inform your future marketing strategy.
Once the marketing strategy has been finalized, a marketing plan is required to execute and evaluate the success of your strategy. The plan should be reviewed revised and reassessed as needed so you can respond quickly to changes in the marketplace.
So what companies are creating effective marketing strategies? Starbucks has done a good job ensuring that every Starbucks feels like a local coffee house, without losing brand consistency. Coca Cola’s key to success has been the company’s focus on enduring and universal values such as ‘sharing and happiness’, as well as product and messaging localization. Nike has been able to evolve its global presence by strategically selecting international sponsorships. McDonald’s has been able to keep its overarching branding consistent, and practices “glocal” marketing efforts which means bringing a local flavor to different countries with region-specific menu items.