In my book, a sound Marketing Strategy is one that makes your company money, above all else. This is not as intuitive as it might sound, there are many companies that do marketing because it’s just ‘one of those things they should do’ or because it ‘helps Brand Awareness’ without really knowing what the Return on Investment is for those activities. I take a page out of Ogilvy’s book and say that ‘if it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative’, Direct Marketing is the way to go in this industry.
The first thing to do is to spend some time analyzing the market, your customers and competition. As a minimum I would include the following items in an analysis document to be able to produce your strategy:
1. Target Audience: the number one thing to think about is ‘who is your target audience?’ all the rest will flow from that. Segmentation is the process by which you find the different target audiences. If you know the target audiences that are in your industry to a granular detail, you will be able to Differentiate yourself and focus on a profitable group of people much more successfully than the competition. Make sure you understand the needs of each target audience in detail.
2. Competition: speaking of Competition, a good marketing strategy will include an analysis of direct and indirect competitors. If you’re an FX broker, Direct competitors might be other FX brokers, Indirect competitors might be brokers selling equities. You can also look at this on the level of your market segmentation and see which are Direct competitors for your Niche Target Audience versus other audiences.
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3. Market analysis: Looking at the market in general in a more structured manner and look into things like trends, regulation, products and importantly market sizing will help you produce the rest of your marketing strategy.
4. Product: what strengths and weaknesses does your product and company have compared to direct and indirect competition? How about a fit with the various target audiences you identified? A good analysis will be honest about your companies’ capabilities and allow you to build a product (and company) road map according to the strategy.
5. Marketing channels: What marketing channels does your target audience use? What is the most effective way of reaching them? How about cost of those channels (and so relative ROI). Spend some time making an overview of marketing channels used on a ‘per-target audience’ basis. If you are currently doing marketing, look at your past results on a granular basis.
Testing Your Strategy
When you have the above information, you will be able to produce a strategy that will include necessary changes to your product and company structure as well as the messaging and channels needed to reach them. Before doing a major shift in strategy, find a way to test your proposition on a smaller scale (you could do a small marketing campaign using your own or a new ‘test’ brand) and avoid costly mistakes. Above all, build a discipline of accountability, testing and optimization into your marketing plans and make sure that whatever you plan for is S.M.A.R.T.; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely in order to be able to execute it properly.