MARKETING & ADVERTISING • May 17, 2016
1 minute Read
If you’re a small business owner, it’s not too much of a stretch to say you’re likely marketing all the time. How you present yourself and talk to others, even in non-business settings, reflects on your business.
A marketing strategy, however, is a calculated plan that allows you to get in front of customers, drive profits and grow your business. Though similar to a business plan, which might be rather linear, a marketing strategy more closely resembles a loop. The steps you take are steps you will retake. Far from some tedious hamster wheel, though, this process of revisiting aspects of your plan is always changing in response to previous results, consumer confidence, the business environment and other factors.
When crafting a marketing strategy, consider the following points.
Analyze your business: This is best done by creating a SWOT document (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threat). This exercise will help you determine your strategy for the next quarter or year by identifying which parts of your business are ready to grow, what improvements you can make, and which obstacles you need to be aware of.
Know your product and its competition: Don’t think of your product in a vacuum! Instead, consider it in relation to similar products and how it fits into the competitive landscape. It’s helpful to identify whether your business is a leader, challenger, follower or filling its own niche.
Identify growth strategies: With the above factors in mind, you can begin to think about how you would like to grow the business. Much of this will depend on the growth stage you’re in and where your sales are in relation to your costs. Another big component of your growth strategy is deciding whether to diversify, integrate or continue to grow in a more vertical way.
Consider the financial situation: At this point, you look over your present funds and make a financial forecast to see what you will be able to put into achieving your growth strategies. How much can you invest? Do you need to take out a loan to drive growth?
Plan promotions and placement: Finally, we get to the more traditional “marketing” part of the marketing strategy. This is where you decide how to deploy promotional materials, plan events or offer services. Should you buy radio time or billboard space to advertise your bakery, or travel to a trade show to promote your start-up? Whatever promotional option you choose, make sure it is grounded in the previous steps so that your marketing directly reflects the state and the needs of your business.
Finally, after analyzing the success of your promotional plan, interpreting the data and considering the new position of your business, head back to the start of the loop and begin on a fresh, new marketing strategy.
Photo credit: hkeita/shutterstock.com
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