In today's digital world, it’s easy for businesses to forge ahead and get lost in delivering marketing activities without fully understanding their market, competitors, audience and customers. Or taking the time to develop fully integrated campaigns, that are aligned and drive achievement of their higher level business goals and objectives.
Yes, researching, planning, developing and documenting your marketing and digital marketing strategies takes effort and time, but as we discover in today's blog, this investment reaps many benefits for long-term sustainable business agility, growth and success.
"B2B Marketers with a documented strategy are 505% more likely to report success" State of B2B Marketing Report 2019 by CoSchedule.
We have already covered a number of business benefits in last week's blog Top Six Reasons for Marketing Strategy, now we delve deeper into the learning and insights that can come from developing and regularly reviewing your marketing and digital marketing strategies.
And it all stems from regular research and review, needed to provide you with up-to-date powerful knowledge and insight to make informed decisions and formulate comprehensive and successful marketing strategies and plans.
Know Your Market
Whether you are working within a niche industry or across numerous markets, the principles are the same – its crucial to understand and identify the drivers, challenges, behaviours and opportunities within each of your target markets.
Marketing strategy gives you the opportunity to undertake in-depth research as well as tap into the experiences of your managers and employees, bringing all this knowledge into one documented resource – a Market/Industry Profile - this can be issued to the whole team for reference and regularly reviewed and updated to account for changes in circumstances.
This more detailed intelligence can help better inform your marketing strategy - the high level decisions about business direction and focus, how you will segment your offerings and take advantage of new opportunities for new products into existing markets or growth into new markets.
Understand Your Audience
With customer experience now being a key element of buying decisions, knowing who your customers are is no longer enough. You need to understand not only their drivers, challenges, needs and buyer behaviors, but also how they make their decisions, where they hang out on Social Media and what content, formats and channels they engage with.
A Walker study found that "By the end of 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator".
Building comprehensive Customer Personas or Avatars as they are now more popularly referred to, gives you the opportunity to identify and target your ideal customers. This is a great tool for your marketing, sales and even product development teams to focus their activities.
This knowledge will also help you define common behaviors and allow you to segment and develop marketing strategies to target specific audiences. This will contribute to effectively allocating your marketing resources, budget and activities to your most engaged and profitable audiences, through your most active and results driven channels. In addition, you will be able to create more personalised messages, content and commutations, for improved engagement and results.
No business operates in a vacuum, and with today's digital technologies, it is much easier and quicker for your competitors to monitor, jump on and disrupt your own marketing activities and sales opportunities. You need to be in a position to protect and build your competitor advantage.
Identifying, understanding and regularly monitoring your competitors, their brand/product strength and positioning, pricing, innovations, marketing activities, promotions, sales approaches, service offerings and channels is therefore, critical.
Intelligence gathered from research, online resources and your internal customer facing teams such as sales and support will provide you with detailed Competitor Profiles. These can be regularly reviewed and updated to provide an important tool in defining your competitor advantage marketing strategies.
According to Crayon's 2020 State of Competitive Intelligence Report "93% of businesses have taken strategic actions based on insights from competitive intelligence they have gathered".
It is also important to monitor the big players in your market, even if they are not direct competitors. They have the resources, budgets and the strength to identify and take early advantage of new opportunities, innovate and introduce new offerings and even influence changing buyer behaviors. All useful knowledge in helping you stay agile and identify new trends, opportunities, focus and direction.
The SaaS market is a prime example, where licensing and subscription based models have been introduced, developed and steered by the big players, resulting in significant transformation in buyer demand and behavior. Other players who have been alert to these influences and quick to change their own models, are in much stronger positions to survive and thrive.
Brand & Product Positioning
Unfortunately, I've witnessed many businesses that have originated from product or service development, understandably staying in their comfort zone and remaining focused on promoting and selling 'features and functions' without paying real attention to their customer's challenges, needs and value proposition.
Developing your marketing strategy gives you the opportunity to review how you are positioning your business, brand and offerings within the market and to your stakeholders, target audience, prospects and customers. It's the time to challenge your thinking and re-evaluate your value proposition.
Defining your mission, vision and values are at the core of your marketing strategy and how you move forward with your business, and how you communicate and bring your team, other stakeholders and your customers on the journey with you.
Building a strong differentiating brand and value proposition will not only help build your competitor advantage and give you the foundations for delivering successful marketing activities but also provide a structure and focus for all other business functions and activities to work towards.
Threats & Opportunities
It's critical to regularly monitor and review external factors that may impact your business. Early identification of new trends or changing drivers as we have already discussed, will help you redefine your marketing strategies and business direction to minimise risk, counter threats and optimise opportunities.
As we have recently experienced with the COVID pandemic, legislative, economic and environmental drivers have the capacity to make or break businesses in a very dramatic way.
Even in such challenging times businesses that were quick to identify the threats, prepared to be agile and change their business models to focus on new opportunities, are thriving, such as Gin Distillery's who adapted and moved to hand sanitiser production.
Internal Business Review
Marketing strategy development also gives you the opportunity to examine your internal structures, processes, resources and challenges to determine how well you can implement your marketing strategies, resolve external threats and and optimise opportunities.
Building business efficiency and improved customer experience are critical factors in achieving long-term business growth. Such success depends on your teams efforts. Setting internally-focused marketing strategies and activities will help communicate and encourage their buy-in and contributions to your long-term business goals and objectives.
Next week we will look at the elements that make up marketing strategy in more detail.