Marketing Strategy Essentials
Its important to note that marketing is not a standalone, one-off activity. Marketing is made up of multiple components that are necessary throughout each and every stage of a business activities. From prospecting through to after sales with this process taking months to years having a strategy in place is essential.
Marketing strategy is defined as the business’s overall game plan for reaching prospective leads and turning them into customers of the products or services the business provides. Generally, it involves the company’s value proposition, key brand messaging, data on target customer demographics, and other high-level elements.
A methodically designed plan created to outline and guide marketing activities with the aim of achieving specific outcomes is a marketing strategy. It provides the foundation upon which all marketing decisions are made. The ultimate function of a marketing strategy is to focus your marketing objectives and campaigns and keep these efforts aligned with the wider company goals.
Internal and external factors have to be taken into consideration in any good marketing strategy.
- Internal factors include the marketing mix, performance analysis, budgetary constraints, etc.
- External factors are elements like customer experience, competitor analysis, the socio-economic environment, and so on.
For many companies who don’t fully embrace the strategic marketing process, that’s why many marketing strategies are partially reactive and planned.
The Five Major Components of a Marketing Strategy?
1. Target audience
Your target audience describes the “people” who are most likely to identify with your products or services. So that you can convert leads profitably it’s important that you confidently establish your ideal audience .
Mass marketing brands target anyone and everyone, and is only typically achievable for those businesses that sell products that are universally needed. Most businesses concentrate on specific, niche groups of people or target several different audiences. The process of market segmentation is required to define, redefine, or re-establish your ideal target audience.
There are four main types of market segmentation: Demographic (age, income, gender, marital status, etc.) , Geographic (location, culture, urbanicity, climate, language) , Psychographic (values, lifestyles, likes, dislikes, opinions, etc.) and Behavioural (actions made within a website, in-app, in-store)
By conducting interviews, creating online surveys, looking at census data, exploring social media analytics, analysing the actions that customers and prospects make will help you collect demographic, geographic, psychographic and behavioural information.
Buyer personas can be created once you have dynamically segmented your customers and prospects’ data. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer, created by utilising your data. Implementing market segmentation and creating buyer personas provides a real-world context for your business. We often find that being able to find a “name” for each of your buying personas helps make the process infinitely more successful.
2. Goals & Objectives
- A goal is something long term that you want to achieve and is a broad, overarching statement
- An objective is more specific, precise and involves the action or actions that will be taken in order to achieve the overall goal.
SWOT analysis when completed correctly is a great way to dive deeper into your company (as well as the wider market environment) and identify some actionable goals and objectives. Please be aware that when done badly at best it amounts to SWAG Stupid Wild Arse Guesses
Conducting a SWOT analysis allows you to identify your business and/or marketing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Providing a clear picture of where you very good, where improvements needed, your potential opportunities and the challenges that you will need to tackle.
What you want to achieve and the objectives you need to attain can be as extensive or as minimal as you like ( months or years)
For any business, regardless of company size, budget or offerings, having strong goals and objectives is very important.
A key thing to remember here is to ensure that your goals and objectives are S.M.A.R.T.:
- S: Specific
- M: Measurable
- A: Achievable
- R: Relevant/realistic
- T: Time-bound
The overall aim of setting goals and objectives in your marketing strategy is to achieve business targets as seamlessly as possible. So, whether it’s focusing on revenue, acquiring new users, improving profitability, growing your brand or venturing into new markets etc
3. Competitor analysis
Competitor analysis is a process where you research competitors that are a potential threat to your business and analyse their
- products / services
- sales and marketing strategies,
- social media presence,
- website, etc.
When competitor analysis is completed accurately and in detail it enables you to get a clear idea of where you sit in the market compared to others and provides a benchmark against which you can measure your business’s growth.
The more intimately you know your competition, the easier it will be to identify potential opportunities and areas in which you can out flank them. We have been into many businesses who have said “We don’t have any competitors” are in the majority of cases incorrect. Even with the most niche product or service, there will always be some form of competition. It may not be direct, but it could simply be alternative areas where potential customers are spending their money
It’s important for you to project the qualities that make your product / service different and why customers and prospects should choose you over other market options – this is the element of “differentiation”
A thorough, usable, relevant competitor analysis takes more than just a quick search on Google. There are a number of specific steps that are required.
4. Content creation
Great authoritative, unique and educational content creation is a truly significant part of modern marketing especially within this digital world. Today’s marketing is than just brash promotional tactics and in your face advertisements. Nowadays great content marketing shows your target audience that you are trustworthy, knowledgeable, and can provide the value and solutions they’re searching for.
In 2020 Hubspot research showed that, in 2020, 70% of marketers claimed to be actively investing in content marketing. So for those companies with dedicated marketing departments or a dedicated marketing employee, this is interesting that they are spending time on content marketing. The reason they are doing this is because the content on a companies website now operates as more than just a slogan or a promotional article. Content marketing has become a key part of the business strategy that functions to project thought leadership.
Content marketing comes in many forms, including blogs, case studies, infographics, webinars, videos, guides, podcasts. Content marketing is growing year-on-year, but it isn’t sufficient to just create content about anything. There is a massive difference between valuable content and content that’s there just for the sake of it. Writing or media that’s poorly targeted or inadequately researched is less likely to convert leads and could come across as a waste of time.
To ensure that the content you create is worthwhile, valuable to your target audience and competitive on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) create a Search Insights Report (S.I.R.). There are four key stages with creating an SIR
1. Focus topic selection: these should be based on the product or service you provide and they act as your main keywords (for example, with Blue Dolphin, one of our main topics is ‘Website Design’ and another is ‘Marketing and Sales Strategy’.
2. Content competitor identification: Importantly these are the brands who rank on SERPs for the same keywords as you not your normal, physical (actual) competitors. For example when I search for “Marketing and Sales Strategy” in Google, I potentially won’t see direct competitors (those who offer a similar product or service). I will see companies that write about the topic of marketing and sales strategy.
How To Tip to find your content competitors, go to your search engine and type in
- “[focus topic] + blogs”,
- “[focus topic] + websites”,
- “[focus topic] + tips”,
- “[focus topic] + examples”.
3. Content competitor evaluation: Analyse content competitors using a keyword research tool so you can see the terms they’re ranking for that your website potentially is not. There are many great tools available such as Moz , Ahrefs, and SEMrush. Currently available for free based on a limited number of keyword searches is a tool called The Hoth. Add your content competitors to the keyword research tool and you will gain a long list of topic-specific keywords.
- Every relevant keyword can be a potential piece of content so long as there isn’t an overwhelming amount of competition
- To evaluate keyword competition look at the Monthly Search Volume (MSV).
- A score between fifty to thousand monthly searches is good / achievable.
- If you’re trying to rank for a keyword that has an MSV of twenty five thousand then it will be significantly more difficult.
Take my example of website design. The keywords that appear in my keyword research tool are: “website design ideas”, “website designs”, “how to design a website”, and their MSV is between 50 – 1000, so it would be sensible to create content using these keywords:
4. Finally, complete your search insights report: It can seem a complex and arduous task, but the Hubspot’s search insights report template. is a very useful tool
To complement in-depth research like a search insights report, ask these additional questions to ensure that your content is worthwhile and significant for your customers and prospects:
- Authenticity – Is this content authentic (i.e. is it genuinely trying to help your audience and not just manipulative)?
- Accuracy – Is this information accurate (does it contain up-to-date statistical data and correct information)?
- Relevance – Does the content match your brand (tone of voice, design, etc.)?
- Answers – Is it answering your target audiences questions?
- Appropriate – For the stages of your customer’s lifecycle is it well-targeted ?
Creating well-structured content that aligns with your company’s purpose will strengthen your brand by adding continued value to your customers.
5. Measurement – What you don’t measure you cant manage
With your marketing efforts and campaigns you need to make sure that your input is equal to, or more than, what you’re gaining in return. Don’t let your marketing campaigns go to waste. You can have the most creative, innovative, ground breaking marketing campaign out there, but if you don’t measure the results, how will you know its success?
Utilising your data, regularly reviewing your actions and measuring your growth will ensure that your tasks, objectives and marketing efforts are being efficiently managed. It is useful to take the following metrics into consideration
- Website traffic: which pages do they visit? How long do they spend on your site? What’s the average bounce rate? What type of device do they use? Do they complete any goals
- Emails: analyse your open rates, click-through rates (CTR), bounce rates, conversions, your CTAs (call-to-action), unsubscribes etc.
- Organic Traffic – what keywords are ranking ? Is your page authority improving?
- Industry benchmarks: Compare your data against industry averages for MQLs, traffic, social media engagement, email open rates, etc.
- MQLs: how many leads are you receiving per week/month? What’s the quality of your leads? How many of them convert?
- Social media: are you gaining new followers or losing them? Do your posts receive enough interaction? Do your social media pages get users to visit your website?
Measuring the impact of your marketing activities gives you the ability to track your success or failures
- If you can identify what’s working then should you simply do more of it
- If it isn’t working STOP and identify why and evaluate what you need to change to improve
A marketing strategy combines all aspects of the customer journey and gives visibility to everyone within the business. This allows the business to focus on the resources available typically time and money and figure out how to use the to their maximum effectiveness. Peter Drucker the father of management thinking defined marketing as “”The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”
Marketing Campaign compared to Marketing Strategy
When it comes to marketing, there is often confusion over the difference between a marketing campaign and a marketing strategy. They are very different!
- Marketing campaigns are very focused, short-term initiatives set out to achieve a very specific goal. A marketing campaign, describes the logistical details for each specific project.
- A marketing strategy framework is more of a high level, overall strategic plan that connects the entire brand, and its organisational objectives. The marketing strategy should be developed and used to help inform your marketing campaigns.
- We will cover marketing campaigns in another article as it is also a very detailed activity.
But that is an entirely different topic for another time, so let’s get back to focusing on your marketing strategy…
Why You Need a Marketing Strategy?
In a business environment that is subject to unpredictable and frequent change, many businesses wonder, why they should focus so much energy and resource on developing a longer-term strategy that may well need to be amended anyway? The answer is that without a strategy in place, we don’t have the capability to develop marketing systems and processes that will allow repeatability or scale.
Typically marketing managers and entrepreneurs are highly creative people, able to come up with a limitless number of ideas and options. What is needed though is that we develop and establish repeatable systems that can predictably generate profit. The important point being to get to the point where once we have identified what marketing works, we have the capability of “wash, rinse, repeat.
The Importance Of A Repeatable Marketing Strategy (and systems)
Whilst your marketing strategy might require regular adjustments or tweaks, it provides you with a structure of where to start. This makes it easier to measure if results are better or worse from each marketing campaign without reinventing the wheel every time you do some marketing. This creates stability and a sense of predictability within the marketing department.
We have seen many instances where Managing Directors ( with limited marketing experience), behave in an irrational way when it comes to marketing campaigns. They swap or change direction as they become aware of a new initiative. Or they want to continue with the same old approaches even though they have no idea how well they perform, and are reluctant to consider new alternatives. If they do agree to a new campaign or initiative, then this is done without any strategic thought.
A marketing strategy can be compared to a menu. A menu is a repeatable process and a framework. For example, if your Christmas Day dinner menu is typically made up of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, bread sauce, and Christmas pudding, then it is probably fair to assume that this is going to be more or less the same each year. You might change your methods (cook your roast potatoes in goose fat), or recipes (add red wine to the gravy) or even add in or take away an extra item or two. The key thing is that the core menu (plan) remains the same.
Where established marketing systems / processes and a dedicated marketing resource are in place, the marketing ‘menu’ potentially looks similar each quarter, as we work towards a comparable outcome of lead generation or brand awareness, using our variety of marketing ‘dishes’. From website marketing, email marketing to SEO (search engine optimisation) to PPC (pay-per-click advertising), and so on. Whilst our marketing recipes are adaptable and can be adjusted, the menu is more or less the same. This provides the opportunity to have more time to spend on improving your marketing recipes, rather than changing the marketing menu each week/month/quarter/year.
It is vital to know exactly who you plan to target, before constructing a solid marketing strategy.
Accurately identifying and establishing your target audience is important as it will impact many important marketing decisions
- Pricing – are you bargain bucket, mid price mediocrity, rip off high or reassuringly expensive
- Branding – how will you position your products or services
- What messages you are planning to use – what are the issues of importance and value, that a customer will respond to
- The marketing channels you choose to promote your products or services on – website, email marketing, social media
The more defined your target audience is, the better your marketing strategy will be as you’ll be able to create all of the messaging, brand marketing content, and ads with your target audience in mind.
Its important to bear in mind that as time progresses, and you gather more insight, you will continue to gain a deeper understanding of your target audience and who exactly falls into this group. In marketing things change so you need to be able to learn and adapt to change as circumstances change. For example you might find you need to go after a different group of customers to those you originally set out to reach.
Amazon, have established themselves over the last 26 years as the best e-commerce trader, this has earned them the ability to target everyone and anyone they want. Your target audience simply cannot be everyone
The Difference Between Target Audience & Target Market?
The terms ‘target audience’ and ‘target market’ are often used interchangeably, and many business people unknowingly assume that they are the same thing.
- The target market is essentially the general group of people who will use and consume the products or services you offer.
- These people may share demographic characteristics such as gender, age, job, income, and geography
- For example, the target market for chainsaws is people and businesses involved in cutting down trees
- The target market for Movable Pool Floor Swimming Pools is high net worth individuals, living in a major city locations where space within their city centre house is limited and a pool that converts to a floored area increasing living space is important
- The target audience is whoever the business expects to purchase their product or service.
- The framework of Chooser, User, Payer can be used to provide clarification
- Chooser – is the person who decides which supplier is chosen i.e. we buy from supplier A rather than supplier B e.g. the buyer
- User – the person who then ultimately uses the item
- Payer – the Financial Director or person who ultimately pays the bill
- If we use the earlier example of Chainsaws, the product itself is aimed at those directly involved in tree and wood management i.e. cutting down trees and branches. Now i some cases they aren’t going to be the ones making the actual purchase. In some circumstances, the advertising and marketing efforts need to be directed at the target audience, which is made up of the owners of landscape companies, buyers in the city councils and larger forestry companies who are involved in making the purchase.
Your target audience can also be a subset of your target market; these are people you are trying to reach as part of a particular marketing communication or promotion. For example, a chainsaw manufacturer will make product that cuts trees. As these trees are of a wide size range, it might not be necessary to target your entire market. Instead, your target audience can be made up of those who are cutting down trees over 0.5metre in diameter.
The Importance of a Defined Target Audience
Having a defined target audience is a vital element of your marketing strategy. It enables those involved in marketing to:
- Perfectly tailor content within each campaign to appeal to the emotions and interests of the target audience
- Understand the language used by the target audience, including the phrases and terms that might resonate with them
- Technical terminology is fine if it is exactly what the respondent would expect
- Position their messaging in a way that connects with the audience’s problems, desires, and motivations . This is sometimes referred to as identifying the customers pain
- Establish where the target audience spends their time both in the physical world and on line. This ensures that messaging can be placed in the most effective locations
- Understand what is expected of their products or services for current and future purposes.
Marketing Strategy Essentials
Once your general target market is established, you need to segment. Customer segments are made up of a number of subgroups of your overall audience, often defined by their similar needs and wants. Consumers / Buyers have become much more empowered and expect highly personalised on topic, messaging from companies. This means that segmentation is now more crucial than ever.
For most companies, there are various types of customers that might have an interest in the products or services you offer.
The process of segmentation involves identifying these different groups and effectively positioning your brand to each one. Below are some of the most common methods used by those involved in marketing to segment their target audience:
For Business to Consumer (B2C) businesses Demographic segmentation is one of the more basic methods and involves grouping consumers based on factors such as gender, age, gender, education, marital status, religion, race, occupation, income and family make up. Demographic data is one of the easiest and quickest for companies to collect and analyse. Therefore it’s no real surprise that many companies segment their customers using (at least) demographic information.
Geographic segmentation involves the division of your target market based on their country, county or region.
For smaller companies ( or those with limited resources / capacity), it can even be beneficial to drill this down further to the city, town, and post code.
Importantly it doesn’t just focus on the ‘location’ of your customer. Geographic data factors in the urbancity, climate, culture, and language of your target audience, all of which can have a great impact on your marketing strategy.
Behavioural segmentation involves dividing your customers based on the information you have gathered during their past interactions with your company. How did they behave in face to face interactions, when visiting your factory, showroom, store or when interacting with you on your website or digital media.
Having detailed insight gives your company the fundamental advantage of knowing when, why, where and how to optimise your customer’s experience. Any findings and decisions you make as a result are based on real data, rather than something presumed.
Psychographic data is often collected via focus groups, surveys, interviews, and case studies. Psychographic segmentation focuses on your target audience’s personality traits, values, interests, lifestyle choices, opinions, and motivations.
Key to achieving higher conversion rates is understanding the incredibly different needs and wants of each customer, and being able to apply this knowledge to your marketing campaigns.
Marketing Strategy Essentials – The Sales Funnel
The sales funnel is sometimes referred to as the marketing funnel or the buyer’s journey. The sales funnel is essentially the path taken by a potential consumer that leads them to the purchase of your product or service.
The idea is that the marketing activities are implemented to draw as many leads as possible into the funnel. Each of these leads are simply nurtured through the different stages and as a business you ultimately end up converting some of them into customers.
In a perfect world, the funnel would be more of a cylinder, meaning that every lead converts into a customer. Unfortunately, in the real world of marketing and sales, this is never the case, hence the reason to narrowing the funnel.
What Does The Sales Funnel Have To Do With Marketing Strategy?
A high priority for marketers should be to create a well thought out sales funnel. For the business completing this process provides great insight into the potential customers thought process, challenges, and decisions that are being made. Your communication with each consumer should be very different based on their stage in your sales funnel.
Having an understanding of your sales funnel will also highlight the points at which your target audience are dropping out and failing to convert. This valuable information will allow you to put a plan in place that helps prevent potential losses.
Each stage of the customer journey requires a different approach from the marketing activities if they want to move customers smoothly down the funnel. The last thing you want to do is incorrectly message customers at the wrong time.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at a typical five-stage experience that your customer might take with your brand. From the initial awareness stage to becoming a loyal, paying customer:
It is likely that your target audience has never heard of your company before, or of the products or services you offer at this very first stage.
This is the point where your prospective customers are realising they have a problem and educating themselves around it through research.
At this initial stage online search through “Google”, is the first point of call and customers find themselves typing various things into the search bar in order to find help. Therefore with online search being so critical its important that
- At this fundamental stage, on your website you have relevant, helpful, content that ranks highly for the particular keywords and phrases your prospect might be searching for.
- As well as from Google Search, you can also generate leads using other forms of awareness, be it a trade shows, exhibitions, editorial in specific trade press, webinars, tweet, promoted Facebook or LinkedIn post, advertising, or whatever methods work best for you and your business.
- If you are very lucky and depending on
- the type of product or service you are providing,
- the amount and type of background research your consumer has completed,
- the quality of your website content,
- this initial stage of awareness can result in a purchase right away.
But for most, (especially if you are selling complex B2B products) the journey continues…
At the consideration stage of your customer’s journey they have clearly identified what it is that is bothering them and want to know all the possible solutions. Your product or service is known as an option to them, but the prospect requires to do further research and compare suitability and prices.
At this point communications with your target audience need to be as informative and helpful as possible. At this stage is to avoid being too pushy and salesy as this could add pressure on them and drive them away. Make sure you highlight and focus on the key differentiators of your product / service over your competitors and help them to make an informed decision. Examples of key pieces of content that marketers should be providing at this consideration stage are pricing guides, comparison-style checklists, case studies and webinars.
The activity of identifying Customer Perceived User Values and evaluating against Competitors can pay dividends in identifying differentiator’s for communication. For more information on how to complete Perceived User Value analysis click here
Once they have reached the decision stage, they are almost ready to buy, having narrowed down their options to around two or three, hopefully you are included as one of the potentials. B2B and B2C consumers collate all their research and decide which option offers the best solution to their problem, at the best value for money.
Content at this stage of the sales funnel exists to reinforce your prospect’s confidence in your product or service. If you have got a customer to this stage you need to convince them that you are the best option and the one they should choose irrespective of price.
The following approaches, customer testimonials, customer reviews, FAQs, product demonstrations / product trials, competitor comparisons are very effective at this stage of the sales funnel.
Once your prospect reaches the live stage, they have purchased from you (paid money for your products or services) and you have succeeded in turning them into a customer. For marketers this is just the start of the customer journey. As a business, you need to be thinking about how you can turn this one-time purchase into a long / longer term relationship and increase your customer lifetime value.
It’s a well-known fact that retaining a current customer costs a company less than acquiring a new one. For many B2B businesses, it’s the quality of your customers, not the quantity that counts. Loyal, returning customers are where you will make the most profits. Gaining multiple customers who haggle on price, delay payment, complain without reason can be more of a drain than a benefit.
At this stage, follow up calls or emails to thank them for their purchase and ask for feedback is a great way to show you care, as well as deal with any issues that may have come up. For B2B companies supplying complex or technical products that require some form of set up, having an effective onboarding process in place can be very important to improve customer satisfaction.
5. Loyal to Advocate
Turning your loyal customers (repeat customers) into active advocates for your brand, product or service is the ultimate aim. At this stage your customers are becoming your sales force in a non salesy manner. Hopefully they will also tell their business associates, colleagues and suppliers about you whenever they get a chance. This may occur in person through meetings / events or online via social media platforms or review sites.
Word of mouth (WOM) is one of the most powerful forms of marketing as people trust other people they know. Importantly WOM costs you absolutely nothing! To help encourage this behaviour it’s important to continue showing your most loyal customers just how much you appreciate them, by continuing to offer superb products / services
Customers at the advocacy stage will provide you with their honest feedback. so its a great opportunity to gather as much constructive criticism as you can. Talk to them or utilise tools like SurveyMonkey to gather insights. The more insight you have from your current customers, the better experience you’ll be able to provide for them and future customers.
SMART Marketing Objectives & Goals
When it comes to planning your marketing strategy, a good place to start is with your goals and objectives. Without quantifiable goals and objectives, how are you meant to know and measure if your marketing efforts have been successful or need changing? The SMART method is a commonly used framework in marketing for successfully setting goals and objectives.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
1. Specific – What exactly do you want to achieve?
When creating your goals, focus on one clearly defined metric and be as specific as possible. Setting vague and ambiguous goals will typically lead to marketing failure. With focused marketing objectives you can help to eliminate distractions and make your end goals clearly visible.
2. Measurable – How will I know when I’ve reached my goal?
If you cant measure you cant manage! It is critical to have systems in place that allow you to measure marketing results. Historically, marketing was very much a guessing game; nowadays we have hundreds of tools available to gather, analyse and report back on the data.
In fact we now have access to so much data its important that you know exactly how you’re going access the data you need and how you’re going to analyse it.
3. Achievable – How can I achieve this goal? Is it realistic?
Challenging, but achievable are the most effective goals. Goals need to be constantly challenging for the business and pushing the boundaries. But you don’t want to be constantly missing goals or falling short, therefore goals need to be achievable. We have seen Directors set goals of increase new customer enquiries by unrealistic amounts and without allowing any changes to the marketing time / budget. Magic Marketing dust doesn’t exist and its key that everyone is aware of this.
4. Relevant – Is this goal worthwhile? If so, why?
The key to setting relevant goals is making sure the objective aligns with the overall strategic positioning of the business. In simple terms, the goal needs to accomplish something that is going to boost business or enhance your brand’s relationship with its customers.
For example you might set a goal to get more search traffic to your website, with the aim of gaining new leads and increasing ROI by five percent. You put an SEO campaign in place and it improves your organic positioning and you gain additional website traffic.
However as B2B business that sells serviced offices in Peterborough the audience you have acquired is outside of the geographic area relating to your company’s overall strategy. So despite the fact that you have partly achieved your goal by generating increased traffic, you may not have gained any valuable leads.
5. Time-bound – When’s the deadline?
Every goal must have an end date for when you expect to have achieved that metric. Without deadlines, we tend to lose focus and can easily get distracted by other tasks that seem more urgent.
With no time limit in place, how will you know when it is the right time to call the strategy a failure or a success?
Setting a deadline allows us to put a peg in the ground. When we get to that time we have the chance to critically review. If we haven’t achieved what we were hoping for we can always set a new deadline. Its important to remember that marketing is a very dynamic activity and going back to our earlier example of SEO, we might decide to do something just as competitors all decide to do the same thing.
Marketing Strategy Essentials – PEST Analysis
PEST is an acronym that stands for Political, Economic, Social, and Technological (analysis). PEST analysis is used to assess these four external factors in relation to your own company.
In order for your marketing strategy to run smoothly and be as successful as possible, it is vital to understand any opportunities and/or threats in both the current market and the wider environment. Carrying out a thorough PEST analysis will enable you to better understand the market trends and conditions, as well as helping to identify the expected constraints on your strategy.
You only have to think about Covid and Brexit to see how two of these factors can massively impact on your business.
Whilst we cant control tax policies, tariff & trade restrictions, employment laws, environmental regulations, consumer protection laws, , copyright, advertising regulations, political stability of a country, etc. The best thing you can do is to make yourself aware of anything that could impact your marketing performance and adhere to the rules to avoid any major penalties or backlash.
Understanding the current economic climate is important for marketers in order to have a better grasp of the factors that affect consumer buying power these factors include, Economic growth indicators, inflation rate, interest rates, exchange rates, fiscal policies, unemployment trends, etc.
These factors have a direct impact on the cost of your products or services. At the time of writing container shipping costs have increased by a factor of 5 so from paying £2000 for a container costs are over £10,000. By factoring in the economics of your target market when developing your marketing strategy, you can be prepared for any ramifications as a result of an economic change.
Since the issues of the Coronavirus there have been many social factors that have impacted on business. Traditionally social factors included cultural aspects, age distribution, career attitudes, health consciousness, population growth rate, social classes, etc.
By digging deep into the social factors impacting your target audience, (remember this can equate to chooser, user , payer) a business can identify how a consumer’s needs are shaped and what brings them to the market to make a purchase.
Technology has a huge impact on businesses on so many levels and can either be an addition that is welcomed or shunned. Think about how businesses have developed over Covid and from a basic level have had to embrace Zoom and Teams. When developing your marketing strategy, it’s important to be aware and keep up-to-date with all the latest technological advancements that might improve your operations and add value to your customers.
PEST analysis can be extended to become the ‘PESTEL’ analysis, incorporating ‘Environmental’ and ‘Legal’ factors
Environmental factors – Avoid Greenwash
Environmental factors and sustainability are more dominant now than they have ever been. B2B and B2C consumers are more educated on environmental matters and the impact that global production and trade can have on the wider environment.
Environmental factors such as sustainability, waste management, recycling procedures, etc, of their production and distribution, all have to to be considered. This ultimately impacts on the business and various aspects of their marketing strategies.
The law remains an important aspect of any business in order to facilitate successful and ethical trade, although legal factors often overlap with political factors. Trading internationally can bring about issues as many countries have their own sets of rules and regulations, however, many countries abide by the same or similar legal regulations. By not considering legal factors when creating your marketing strategy, you run the risk of harming, or even destroying, the entire brand. A recent example of this is CE Marking post Brexit.
The UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) marking is a new UK product marking that is used for goods being placed on the market in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland). It covers most goods which previously required the CE marking, known as ‘new approach’ goods
Marketing Strategy Essentials – SWOT Analysis
The acronym SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This established method of analysis is the primary way that businesses position themselves and determine how aligned they are with their vision, goals, growth objectives, and success KPI’s. A SWOT analysis can be used for any number of different things such as a marketing project, a sales campaign, a new business case
Internal aspects of your business, which are essentially the things you have control over are referred to as your strengths and weaknesses.
External elements that you cannot control, like the actions of your competitors or the condition of the wider market are considered as opportunities and threats
SWOT analysis when completed correctly offers business insights that focus on both internal and external impacting factors. Conducting this type of analysis in detail and honestly heightens your chances of success and reduces the likelihood of failure. When completed as a token exercise it can be converted into SWAG Stupid Wild Arse Guesses ( Thanks to Professor Malcolm McDonald for the SWAG version)
How to conduct a SWOT Analysis for your business
- Strengths – what do you do well
- Weaknesses – what do you need to improve
- Opportunities – what are your goals
- Threats – what challenges do you face
Your strengths are the areas that your company excels in; things that you do especially well. It’s what makes you unique, it’s what makes you thrive, it’s the things that give you an edge over your competitors. Think of your
- People – are your technical people the best in class, are your fabricators multi skilled and passionate about what they do, do your customer service people always go the extra mile etc
- Assets – do you have unique equipment and technology
- Processes – do you have the systems and processes in place that you have the ability to offer repeatability
- Communications – how well do you communicate with customers, staff, suppliers etc.
Some strengths are clear to see; if you have very high traffic to your website, chances are that you’re doing something right. But is this high traffic volume useful or is it just visitors who will never purchase. Evaluation and asking questions will illuminate areas where your business excels, and why:
- Do you have a clear unique selling point (USP)? I.e., what separates you from your competitors? Do you actually know what differentiates you. When we have conducted research on behalf of clients we have found in many cases that there assumptions are totally inaccurate.
- Do you have strong internal resources? I.e., skilled, knowledgeable, experienced staff, substantial networks, reputation, etc.
- What are your assets? I.e., capital, intellectual property, equipment, technology, patents, etc. This is important especially if there are low barriers to entry for your competitors
- Do you have a loyal customer base? In fact do you know who your customers are. Can you easily identify your top twenty percent most profitable customers
- What are your clear competitive advantages?
- Is your business adaptable to a changing economic climate or for growing social trends?
Factors that are holding the business back, stopping you from reaching your full potential or stifling projects are referred to as weaknesses
Some weaknesses are out of your control which is unfortunate, but some are easily fixed. Similar to strengths, it’s not always easy to identify your weaknesses. Your business may be going downhill and perhaps there’s no obvious reason why. That’s why you need to ask yourself these critical questions and shed some light on the elusive issues that are holding you back:
- Is your company limited in terms of resources such as equipment, money, or employees, etc.?
- Are there clear aspects of the business process that needs improvement or radical change?
- Do you have any intellectual property if so how relevant is it?
- Are your competitors out-performing you, if so, in any particular area? (better performing products or services, exceptional customer service, etc.)
- Do you have any USP’s, if so are they clear, too samey, or too niche?
Opportunities could materialise from within your company; or they could be external factors, such as new trends that relate heavily to your product or service. The opportunities are things that your business can capitalise on. In order to identify any potential opportunities, you should address these questions:
- Is the market contracting, stable, expanding, dying ?
- Are there any growing trends or emerging needs that will encourage people to buy what you’re offering?
- Are there any upcoming presentations, functions or events that your company can take advantage of?
- Are there any business strengths that you can turn into opportunities?
- Can you initiate or expand upon the marketing opportunities for your business? Are you a well kept secret, could some simple communications improve your brand awareness to potential customers
Identifying and actioning any opportunities that come up for your business, whether they’re external or internal factors, small or big, is fundamental to the long term development of the brand. Steady and sustainable growth is great, but without significant growth and positive progress, you run the risk of being left behind, or of your competitors taking that great opportunity that you missed.
Threats include anything that can negatively impact your business. They tend to be external factors such as a changing market or emerging competition. Whilst we had plenty of time to prepare for Brexit it still caught many businesses out. The Covid pandemic couldn’t be predicted and massively impacted the majority of businesses big and small.
As threats, more often than not, are external factors that you can merely influence or prevent rather than control, it can be difficult to truly identify them.
- Potentially are you open to any outside threats as a result of your weaknesses?
- Are there any changes to current regulations that will affect you?
- Do you have strong competition in your existing markets? What are your competitors doing differently to, or better than you?
- Capability / Capacity – will you always have enough resources to satisfy your customers for the long term?
- Are there any technological advancements that could impact your business?
- How is consumer behaviour changing and will this impact you? I.e., are there environmental trends that conflict with your brand, product, or services?
Your business needs to examine threats because they can appear out of nowhere, and can happen instantaneously. You need to be prepared, in advance, so that when threats do arise, you have a plan of how to tackle them!
Marketing Strategy Essentials
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