The marketing strategy is the too often-overlooked necessity in corporate planning. What I hear most often from managers is that marketing is about great visuals and catch phrases to be used in the packaging and advertising. Fine and dandy, but this is only marketing execution. This definition does take in consideration what guides all the design decisions: the Marketing Strategy.
First and foremost, a good marketing strategy is the pathway that will move a company towards your desired brand positioning. It should be closely tied into the corporate strategy so that everything and everyone in the ecosystem meshes towards the same goal. A good marketing strategy should also have a clear understanding of the consumers it is targeting. Let’s look at two key components that can help to up your game on your marketing strategy.
Companies often start out well because the owner identifies a need and they create a product or service to fill that opportunity. However, as the market evolves, needs change, the company grows and competitors establish themselves and the company’s initial offering does not carry as much weight with the consumer anymore. Think about this. When McDonald’s initially started, they tapped into a need for speed. We all know they are no longer alone in that space. So, they evolved their marketing strategy over time to better position they’re offering to the target market and differentiate themselves. So you first must decide the space you want to occupy and what you want to be known as: your brand positioning.
A marketing strategy should become a two-way street. Since the marketing function is a key player in the development of products or services, it needs to include the customer intimacy (relationship) in the planning process. Too often companies are great at bragging about their product is the “best this” or their service is the “most of that.” It’s great to “Toot your own horn” but they are only thinking about their side of the relationship.
What about what the consumer needs? What pains are they trying to relieve, or gains are they trying to achieve? An example I like to use that really brings this point home is from an industrial tool company who, like most of their competitors, positioned their tools as the strongest, the most durable, the best. Sound like every tool company we know, right? That was until this particular company started to listen to their customers. More specifically the foremen on the construction sites. Their issue was not the tool quality, every tool no matter how great had a limited life expectancy in their environment. Most importantly, breakdowns were very costly on labour and deadlines. The tool company decided to create a replacement program with service trucks automatically going to job sites and replace the tools BEFORE they broke down. Even by charging fees to be part of the replacement program the sales went through the roof and left their competitors scrambling. The second component of your marketing strategy is to identify which pain you relieve, or which gain you create for your customers: your value proposition.
Marketing Strategy is both internal and external focus. Your entire staff and management should live and breathe the value proposition and strive to attain your desired brand positioning. Marketing is not just about pretty images and slogans but takes its rightful place as a core strategic function of your company’s growth.