Marketing a product is no easy feat and there are no shortcuts you can take to have a successful marketing strategy. You’ll need to spend a great amount of time researching your marketplace, target audience, competition, and above all, you’ll need an objective. There’s no use in having an extensive and comprehensive study if you don’t channel all the data into a clear, strategic path to follow. The most successful marketing campaigns have a specific focus:
Spreading brand awareness
You can’t have potential buyers if no one knows who you are. Raising awareness, effectively makes customers associate you with a certain style, voice, culture or product, which will help differentiate you from your competition. After all, making sure your customers remember you, even if they don’t buy right away, is a good way to ensure they’ll know who you are, what you offer and where to find you.
Increasing your sales
When your audience knows who you are, chances are they’ll spread the word, which means new potential customers, which is more than likely to translate into purchases. Successful marketing gives you the opportunity to have a word in what your customer may say about you to others.
Keeping an eye on the marketplace
As you start segmenting your target audience, and reviewing the way your competition behaves, you’ll get a healthy picture of the overall marketplace. This will let you stay alert for new marketing opportunities.
Whatever your objectives are, a successful marketing campaign should be designed to ensure you achieve your goals. In order to attain this success, you need to be able to sell the right product, to the right people, in the right place, at the right time, and to be able to realistically do that, you need to know where you stand. Throughout the years, experts have developed millions of strategies to try to devise a standard marketing procedure. Though standardizing the process is ineffective -what works for a bank, will not work for a bakery when it comes to marketing- there are a couple of key concepts available, to help us create efficient strategies. Let’s take a look at the 4 Ps first.
Product, Price, Promotion, and Place.
The 4 Ps refer to the parameters that you need to take into account when creating an strategy to promote your brand or product. This classification is an efficient organisational tool you can use to make decisions regarding the way you’ll promote your brand:
This relates to either the tangible good you’re selling or the intangible service you’re providing to fulfil your consumer’s needs.
When defining this, you should take the time to outline and study all of your product’s features and unique selling propositions along with the potential buyers that you wish to reach. This will be essential later on when you’re building your marketing plan.
Main takeaway: If you know your product inside out from the early stages, you’ll be able to find a better and more suitable place for it in the marketplace than if you were to constantly reassess its benefits throughout the process.
When you understand your product and what it has to offer, it’s time to determine the price. You’ll need to think of the perceived value your product has in your client’s mind. If your objective cost is higher than the perceived value, the product won’t sell, and you’ll have a serious problem. Keep in mind as well that pricing decisions will affect profit margins, supply, demand and the marketing strategies you’ll develop.
Main take away: The price of a product will affect the way it sells and the way the customers perceive it.
This is the time to focus in the marketing communication. What is the most effective way to reach your target? Is it better to design a newsletter or a radio ad? What would motivate your target to buy your product?
Main take away: Creating a good promotion plan, will guard you against having to rethink your strategies later on.
Take the time to pinpoint the best location to sell your product so that it reaches your target audience and potential clients, take notice of where your competitor is located, and figure out which distribution channels work better for you.
Main take away: Think of your end users when creating your distribution plan.
Along with the 4 Ps, you can create a marketing plan to clearly outline your process. Your marketing plan will be a meticulous document in which you estate all your market knowledge and research, and set out specific steps to take to achieve your marketing goals in a specific time period. If marketing your product is like cooking, your marketing plan will be the recipe you use to determine whether you make a great fulfilling meal or an underwhelming appetizer.
How do you create a marketing plan?
- Define your target audience as thoroughly as possible
Sticking with the cooking analogy, this will be your main ingredient. Forget about appealing to “males 18-45” and leaving it at that, you need to be as specific as possible when defining your target audience -without dwelling on fads and trends. The goal is to invest all your marketing efforts on the people who are more likely to buy what you have to offer. A good place to start is by thinking about what problem your product is solving, and from there, think who’s more likely to face this issues, who will appreciate that solution the most, and start asking questions about them and looking for common characteristics. How old are they? Where do they live? What level of education do they have? What are their values? Are they married? What jobs do they have? Do they already use products like yours? How much do they spend on them? By understanding their needs, you can find how your product fits into their lives and target that necessity.
Paint a colorful picture of your target and their habits to help you identify how and where you can better reach them and plan accordingly. Don’t be afraid to fearlessly and openly pursue them.
Core concept: Sending out an Instagram campaign aimed at Baby Boomers would waste as much money as reaching Millennials with a mobile friendly website, i.e. none at all. Throughout the development of your plan you’ll need to think the way your target does, so make sure you understand them well.
- Develop your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
This refers to the reasons, you as a salesperson, will use to sell your product as different and better than your competition. Just as with your target audience, you don’t want to have an overly wide approach since there’s no need to please everyone at the same time. Don’t strive to be known for everything, you don’t have to be both the brand that is known for having reasonable prices while also the highest quality; chances are that in an overcrowded marketplace where everyone wants to be known as the best or the cheapest, no one will be remembered as such. While keeping in mind the 4 P’s we learnt earlier, you may want to take a quick look at what your competition is using to differentiate itself, are they using a trait from the Product itself? Highlighting the Price? Drawing attention to the Promotion? Or focusing on the Place?
This is the time to put to good use the insight you gathered when you studied your target, think about what, from their point of view, will make you stand out as someone with a valuable solution to their specific problem.
Core concept: Think of your customers and their buying habits. What would inspire a stronger recall in your customer’s mind so that you become their first option?
- Carefully consider your pricing and positioning strategies
Your 4 P’s research should be completed by now, because you’re going to be using them again – a lot. Positioning is all about how your customer will view your product, and this is all connected to the price it will have, the place where it’ll be sold, what your product is, and how it will be promoted. This is all about perception, and everything, from the price of your product to its packaging, will subtly influence your customer’s opinion.
Core concept: You must determine what elements you will need to have in your advertisement, in what areas it’s best to sell your products, and whether these will be high range, mid range, o low range products when it comes to pricing.
Take the time to analyze your competition
Once more, put yourself in your client’s shoes, only now look at your direct competition. Think of the reasons you’d choose them, what do they have to offer that others don’t, determine their strengths and weaknesses. Assess the basic promise they’re delivering to the customers, think about their objectives and strategies. It’s also wise to take the time to visit your competition’s location, whether physical or virtual and take a look at their communicational strategies.
Studying your competition is not just about rivalry and fighting for the market place, having a clear understanding of their strengths and weaknesses pushes you to find new strategies and helps you avoid common mistakes.
Core concept: Just as you need to know your customers intimately, you need to know the marketplace you’re about to enter. A great way to get an accurate picture, is by looking at the people that are already in it, how they’re behaving and how you’ll stack up in comparison.
- SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats).
It refers to an analysis carried out to outline the strengths and weaknesses within your product, and the opportunities and threats given by the marketplace and your position in it.
This gives you an exact breakdown on where you stand and what you can do to improve your product. It creates a succinct synopsis of the environment you’re in, so that you can, easily, create strategies to minimise your weaknesses and threats while highlighting your opportunities and strengths.
Core concept: Know yourself, and optimize your opportunity. There’s no such thing as “too much knowledge” so don’t shy away from taking the time to research yourself and have a clear outline of your situation.
Determine your profitability
This is the place to ask how profitable is the industry you’re in, Can you successfully dive in? What resources do you have available to ensure a seamless incursion, and how much can you realistically gain from your product after deducting salaries and production costs? You need to know how sustainable your production will be in the long run so that you can realistically plan ahead and develop your key performance indicators.
Establish your objectives and set clear timelines
The most common objectives of a marketing campaign are increasing sales, creating brand awareness and carving your place in the industry. Once you’ve done all your research, you can articulate what your marketing goals will be, and when you have definite objectives you can determine how long it should realistically take you to achieve them. .
- Design your marketing strategy
Finally, the time has come to channel all of the knowledge you gained in the previous stages of your marketing plan into defined actions. There are endless marketing strategies. Even listing only the most common would require its own dedicated article, but let’s take a look at a few:
- Earned Media marketing
The goal is to turn your customers into advocates of your brand. Think of Apple and its cult-like following. It centers around fostering engagement between clients and company.
Beware: Though word of mouth is one of the most trusted sources of information by your customers due to its organic nature, you will not be receiving a whole lot of benefits from it alone. The smart thing to do is to combine it with Paid and Owned Media.
- Point of Purchase marketing
This strategy takes advantage of customers already being in the point of purchase and willing to buy. It consists in placing displays, shelf talkers, coupons, posters, or special bundles, near the register machine. The goal is to showcase new benefits or offer new information that your customer can’t resist.
Remember: We are often overstimulated and you might need to have an extraordinarily eye catching approach to avoid becoming part of the landscape.
- Social media marketing
Social media has its own rules, trends and approaches. Knowing this is a must to create a cost effective, successful, social media strategy. What you should be striving to accomplish is the creation of a strong social media presence with whom your customers can engage.
What you’ll need to know: Customers are expecting you to act human, not just present self serving content to promote whatever you may be offering.
- SEM marketing
Search Engine strategy focuses on buying traffic through paid search listings. This means that you, as a company, buy a link that will come up as an ad in results when searching a keyword related to your product. When the ad is clicked, you pay a fee to the search engine. Since this strategy is sustained by keywords, you will need to do a comprehensive research before you choose the keywords you want to associate to your company.
- Content marketing
This approach entails delivering consistently relevant, high value, informative, content aimed to educate, attract, and engage an audience while promoting your product or service. Content can be created in a number of ways, you can write an article, design an infographic, or make a video.
Keep in mind: You’ll have to walk a fine line between communicating with your customer to increase brand awareness and avoiding a sales pitch.
If you want to appeal to your consumer’s emotional side, storytelling is the way to go. Instead of talking about attributes and benefits, the focus is in telling an engaging story about who you are as a company, how you behave, or the ways you’ve solved a problem. You’re working towards inspiring your audience and making them remember you.
Don’t forget: This goes beyond an advert or a sales pitch, and it’s not just feelings and emotions. There are entire academic institutions behind storytelling that can give you a clear understanding of the process and its basics components.
- Guerrilla marketing
This is an alternative strategy that centers around unconventional creative techniques with an inexpensive approach. It relies heavily on surprising and engaging big audiences and it functions as a great complement to more traditional techniques.
Be as creative as you want: Don’t just settle for a flash mob. Think about how you can surprise and engage your customers. Use your environment as a canvas.
Remember none of these elements work by themselves. While it’s generally a wonderful idea to know exactly who your target audience is, if you don’t do anything with that information, it’s not benefiting you in any way. Same goes for knowing what your competition is doing, and what are the best marketing options for selling your product. However, when you combine all this knowledge in an organized way, you’re optimizing your marketing efforts and setting yourself up for success.