Why Your Business Needs a Marketing Strategy
Regardless of whether you’re a new start-up or your company has been operating in the business arena for over twenty years, a solid plan is the basis lying behind any long-lasting success. In addition to careful financial planning and product development, it is crucial to create a detailed, comprehensive and thought-out marketing strategy.
As regards to advertising, the lack of planning is not only costly, but also risky, leading to unpredictable circumstances. Below are the key potential outcomes that might happen to your company, if insufficient attention would be given to developing a marketing strategy.
Lack of market research leads to huge losses
Comprehensive industry research and market trends analysis are the cornerstones of any good marketing strategy. Without the in-depth research, you’ll just be wasting your ad budget on the wrong audience, using wrong marketing channels. Careful planning leads to the well-informed decisions, which are crucial for your business functioning.
Strategy planning allows you to focus on your business goals: you can determine the best direction and avoid losing sight of your objectives. Apart from that, by outlining your objectives you can develop a timeline of tasks, milestones and deadlines you need to meet in order to fulfil your objectives. In that case, you and your team members will be held accountable for completing their tasks in a timely manner.
The most famous example of the failure to implement sufficient market research is the Coca Cola’s commercial in Saudi Arabia. The company wanted to show how the drink helped people survive the hot weather common for that region:
However, the published advertisement turned out to be a real disaster, as Coca Cola did not take into account that Saudi Arabia is different from the rest of the world, as people there read from right to left.
The wise advice for the businesses being in the midst of strategy planning process is to pay maximum attention to the accuracy and timeliness of the collected information prior to strategy implementation. Relying only on one source is not enough – 2-3 sources are the optimum amount to ensure the full reliability of obtained data.
Market research plays a crucial role in marketing, as it allows to understand your customers better. By providing insights into clients’ behaviour, preferences, needs and wants, market research assists in developing the pathway of the future strategy planning and implementation. Understanding your audience makes the whole process easier, as you know who your customers are and what they prefer.
Nowadays, it is a common trend for many start-ups to attempt to target as much customers as possible, paying little attention to audience segmentation. Is this a right strategy? Many businesses would say yes, as they believe – the more people you target, the more customers you can get. No, no, and again no!
The important element of any market research is to understand who is that person you are targeting. Male or female? Teenager or retiree? Single or Married? What does he/she like? And many more questions that you need to answer before starting your planning. In the world of marketing, this is known as ‘creating customer persona’.
Below we provide an example of the customer persona created by Brightspark Social Media, a digital marketing agency:
By outlining all the details including age, job position, preferred communication methods and the main needs and wants with regards to digital services, Brightspark Social Media is a successful business, as they know everything about their clients! Sounds great, right?
Another interesting example of the detailed customer persona is presented by UX designer James Donovan. Just have a look at how real and holistic the customer persona is!
There is no fixed set of points that you have to include in your company’s customer persona. Are you opening a beauty saloon? Find out what beauty products your clients use; how often they go for haircut or manicure; what beauty pages they follow on Facebook. Are you starting a fast-food chain? Explore what the eating habits of your customers are: how often they eat; meat-lovers or vegetarians; prefer eat outside or order delivery? We can provide thousands example, but only you know your business better than anyone else! Take a piece of paper, describe your business in 5-6 points and start building your customer persona based on it. Surveys, interviews, and social media websites are also your best friends in this journey!
You can’t fix your mistakes if you don’t know what they are
Frequently, when you are in the process of implementing your marketing plan for a long time, the tasks become a daily routine and you go on auto-pilot without paying sufficient attention to your performance. Business in general, and marketing in particular, are the fast-changing environment, where the continuous updating of practices and methods used is vital for the company’s survival. This is particularly true for online marketing strategies, where trends that were popular just yesterday could be completely outdated for your audience tomorrow.
The continuous evaluation of the performance is another important element of the marketing strategy implementation. Comparing the obtained results against set goals, milestones and competitors are necessary to ensure that work process is going according to the agreed plan. However, still keep in mind that making changes to the initial plan is acceptable and in some cases necessary, to ensure that only the best results will be achieved not only for marketing, but also beyond it.
The famous example of the company that failed to keep up with the fast-paced technology trend is Kodak. Founded in 1988, the American technology company, Kodak, was built on the culture of innovation and change. Kodak held a dominant position in the photographic film at that time. Its tagline “Kodak Moments” was so popular that it was used for promoting various events.
Kodak’s failure in 2000s was mainly due to their inability to recognize how powerful the threat of new technologies would be to their business. Although the company essentially invented the digital camera, it suppressed the technology out of fears it would threaten the revenues it made from traditional fil, however, Sony, Nikon, Fujifilm took advantage of it.
The wise advice for businesses is to always be aware of the current and changing trends in the industry and market. Ranging from reading news to conducting surveys, the wide variety of research methods allows companies to continuously keep up with changes occurring in the business arena.
Insufficient attention to the details can cost you your credibility
Nowadays, businesses face a wide variety of marketing channels that they can use for advertising purposes, ranging from traditional methods, such as magazines and newspapers, to internet and mobile marketing. Thus, it is difficult to find a company that utilizes only one of those channels.
A cross-channel marketing campaign is like a big machine – if one component isn’t working, the entire machine will fall apart. Despite being a whole, the clear outline of goals for each channel is crucial in order to keep the work process organized. For instance, when using both Linkedin and Instagram for digital marketing, businesses need to be aware that while Linkedin is more suitable for B2B conversion purposes, Instagram aims at establishing deeper relationships with existing clients.
The bright example of how the inappropriate promotion through one of the marketing channels has affected the entire company’s image is Bloomingdale’s case on Twitter. The picture, which shows a man side-eyeing a woman, eerily reads: “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.” Understandably, the horrific suggestion — which falls under the message calling for alcohol-fueled date rape – resulted into disgust and contempt across social media.
Later, Bloomingdale’s apologized in 140 characters on Twitter, however, the Internet post left a significant impact on the customers’ perception of Bloomingdale brand image even after that.
Not having an online marketing strategy makes achieving your business goals significantly harder, because you’ll just be implementing random non-related activities. It is like walking through the desert without ha ving a map or a compass. However, a detailed plan of action ensures that all the efforts, time and money that you invest on marketing your business are well-spent to produce the best results.
Thorough Market Research. Performance Monitoring. Attention to Details.
Three simple rules to follow and you can be sure that your online marketing strategies have a strong foundation, a constant control and a quick response to meet the changing requirements of the fast-paced business environment. Consider your marketing tasks as your building blocks vital for achieving the company’s major goal. Best digital marketing is more than just advertising: digital marketing is a science revealing the success secrets for your company. As any science, it takes time to learn – thus, be judicious in your planning and actions. Careful preparation and planning determines half of success. Take a deep breath and … are you ready? So, let’s start!