My work and projects consistently revolve around marketing, but I am also consistently floored by the surplus of ineffective branding plans that inundate nearly every industry. When starting a company, you want to put your best foot forward, and to do that you need to develop a strong brand and marketing strategy. The obvious truth, of course, is that while someone might be an excellent CEO or co-founder, he or she may not have a clear plan or strategy to get their idea off the ground or to gain traction with investors and consumers. This is where a marketing strategy comes in.
Define Your Goals
The first thing you need to do when creating a marketing strategy is clearly define your goals. Whether you plan to enlist a marketing agency or handle your marketing needs from within no one will be able to outline your marketing needs better than you. Afterall, you stand as the number one expert on your company. If you decipher these needs, you can save time, effort and money. As Patrick McFadden says, “Until you can specifically define the results you want to achieve, or the primary reason you’re marketing that supports your overall business goals, your business will fall prey to bad marketing recommendations. The big question at hand is: What specific actions do you want ideal customers to make as a result of your marketing? The answer to this is the result of your “call-to-action” in all of your marketing efforts.”
Know Your Customer
Consider polling clients, leading focus groups or running analytics to better understand the specifics of your clientele. If you know your customers, you can more easily target them. As Danielle Corcione says, you need to develop a clear understanding of how your company will satisfy the consumer. “Is it to help your customers get through the day more easily? Do their job more efficiently? Be respected and admired by friends? Your offering should be designed to solve client problems or meet customer needs better than the competition can.” In knowing your customer and what you offer them, you can also more easily identify your competition in the space.
When preparing for an advertising spend, don’t limit yourself or your company to a single medium. In diversifying the approach, companies open up channels for a wide variety of consumers to learn about the business. Professionals need to ensure that the approach makes sense of course. If you work in the digital space, a print magazine ad might not make sense, but a billboard could be a great broad approach.
Build it into the Budget
Last, but not least, remember marketing isn’t free. It doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive either, but build a bit of money into your business plan so you don’t come up short later. As Laura Lake says, “Marketing is an investment. And while a good plan will help you outline your company’s product or service strategies, tactics, expenses, and expectations, a budget will ensure that your team follows through on the market roadmap and reach important goals.”