There have literally been thousands of books written on how to create a company's marketing strategy. It can be as complicated or as straightforward as you like. To hit the ground running in getting your company's brand out into the public, these are the bare bone minimum things that must be immediately established for any company's marketing strategy:
1. Understand the market climate
Markets change all the time. Keep an eye on what's happening. If it's a down market, for example, you need to be sensitive to the fact that people won't have a lot of extra money. Your customers will be looking specifically for value and durability. In short, they want their money's worth. Companies like Dell understand this with their “Grow IT Faster, Run IT Better, Grow IT Smarter” campaign. They show you the value of their services right up front.
If the economy is up, or if your company is in a new and hot field, then go for it. Emphasize what it is about your product that will be of value to your customer. People tend to be more playful and take chances when the money is less tight. Of all the companies out there, Apple understands and embraces that people are willing to pay for something that is new and considered “hip.”
Understanding the market climate shouldn’t stop you from being creative with your approach. It simply means that you need to be sensitive to what is out there and how the overall climate can be affecting your customers.
To help in your market research, Intel Software Partner Program members (Premier Partners and Premier Elite Partners) can access market research reports from Forrester Research* and Gartner, Inc*.
2. Define your target audience
If you're selling to the wrong audience, you're not going to make any sales – no matter how good your product is.
Do some old-fashioned investigative work. Look carefully at your websites analytical report. Who are the people who are clicking on your site, the ones reading your blog, and requesting additional information? Who is linking to your posts? Also be aware of who is reposting your Tweets and commenting on your Facebook page.
Once you've figured out the demographics of who you are reaching and who you'd like to reach, you can then target your efforts to that group. Stop wasting time on those who will never purchase from you.
Remember that a target never defined will never be hit.
3. Know what the value of your product is to your audience and be able to verbalize it
You most probably have competitors to your product. Figure out what it is about your product or service that makes it stand out. Is it price? Value? Do you offer incredible customer service or a 100% no questions asked return policy?
Think of this as your product's 15-second elevator speech. What do people need to know up front about what you offer? Find out what you do differently that makes your product the better choice and then use the wording of that advantage in many of your communications going forward.
4. Decide how you are going to position your product. How are you going to stand out?
When people think of your product, what words or images do you want to come to their minds? Value? Ease of use? A sense of community and support?
Try defining your product in the way you want it seen. Some larger businesses have done a great job. Salesforce, for example, is the “manage sales the easy way” company. While Verizon is the “can you hear me now?” we care about you, company.
Once you've identified your position, be consistent about using it. You can't brand yourself as being an solutions-solving company and then fill up your social media streams complaining about things. It's not a true message. All you'll end up doing will be confusing your potential customer.
5. Decide on the marketing methods. What avenues will you use to get the word out on your product or services?
All of the steps in a marketing strategy go hand in hand. When you've identified your target audience, have defined your product value, and decided how you are going to position your product or service, now is the time to go out and conquer your potential customers.
Depending on your audience, you'll have different approaches. Older audiences may not be as web savvy as a younger audience. If your target audience is older, make things as easy as possible for them to get access to your company and your products. Point out the value of your product up front.
If you have a young, hip audience (again, think Apple), then your approach is going to be more Internet-based. They will be on the move, heavy use of Twitter and Facebook, along with a rock-solid blog is going to make an audience like that happy.
Once you've figured out what your company message is and who it is you should be marketing to, then use the resources you have at hand to squarely hit that potential target. You'll use fewer marketing dollars and get a greater return on your marketing investment when you refine the overall message and then appropriately deliver it.
What aspects of your marketing strategy are giving you headaches, and what parts have you already figured out?