As a busy business owner, planning out the marketing activities for your business can often be left to the last minute and result in reactive activities, rather than following a strategically researched plan.
So, what does it mean to think strategically in marketing?
In essence, itâ€™s about working out where you will get the best return for your time and financial investment.
Working this out is done by asking yourself who, what and why questions. And there are lots of questions to answer before you even start thinking about ordering a brochure, or booking that exhibition stand space.
Some of the questions may include, but are not limited to:
- Why are you in business?
- What does the future look like?
- Whatâ€™s your plan to grow the business?
- What do you realistically want to achieve?
- Who are you specifically targeting?
- What action do you want from them?
- What are the clear S.M.A.R.T* goals for each of your target markets? *(specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound)
Once these questions have been answered, research and analysis is an important next step to ensure you understand your target audience(s). In particular, where do they spend their time (online and offline), how do they want to be communicated to, how likely are they to respond to your campaigns and the mediums you intend to use.
It is only at this point, you can move forward with the knowledge you have gained. The market information you have gathered will allow you to more accurately decide what message, language and channels you will use to achieve your goals and determine what success looks like, with clearly defined success measures.
An integration and balance between online and offline methods should be considered and tailored depending on your audience. This is followed by testing and measuring your tactics and possibly adjusting your campaign.
The right mix of advertising, public relations, sponsorship, events, branding, industry association affiliations, printed sales tools, promotional items, exhibitions & conferences, web-based activities (the list can go on depending what you discover in your research!â€¦.) is then put into action for each campaign.
Using this process will result in a more targeted and effective marketing plan, both in relation to return on your investment in terms of dollars and time spent. And importantly, in terms of turnover and profit in your business!
If all of this sounds overwhelming, or if you donâ€™t have the time or inclination â€“ speaking to a marketing expert can offer you guidance in the right direction. You may have many of the answers in your head and they will help you by asking the right questions and formalise and implement your plans.
So what has been your experience? Iâ€™d love to hear your thoughts below.