What’s the difference between the confident entrepreneurs who lead growing businesses and owners who can’t get out of survival mode? It all comes down to this: All successful businesses have a clear marketing strategy that makes everything they do more effective.
Unfortunately, many busy small business owners get so caught up in tactical daily marketing execution like building a website, sending email, tweeting, advertising, optimizing a landing page, blogging and so on, that they are not taking the time to work on the decisions that’ll improve the performance of their tactics.
Strategy is simply the decisions you need to make so your tactics work better. Your marketing strategy is the foundation for creating awareness, generating interest, closing new sales and continuing customer engagement. Your marketing strategy guides your company culture, your products and services mix and your pricing.
There are many things to consider when crafting a successful strategy, but there are five key decisions that over the years I have seen help hundreds of small business owners grow their sales and create sanity in their businesses.
The 5 Keys of Marketing Strategy
- Who is your narrowly defined target customer?
- In which category does your business exist?
- What is your unique benefit?
- Who is your real competition?
- How are you clearly different from your competitors?
To make your tactics work better, to grow your business and bring sanity to your world, you have to decide on the single, simple answer to each of these questions and commit to not changing it for a year or two.
This is focus. And focus is almost always the difference between a business that grows profitably and one that never seems to gain any momentum. You can continue to hope that “next time that email is going to work better,” or you can develop a clear focus and a realistic strategy.
Who is Your Target Customer?
What is Your Category?
Your category is simply the short description of what business you are in. What few words would someone say to describe your business? Starbucks is “high-quality coffee” Chipotle is “fresh Mexican burritos.” My friend’s tax business is simply “tax accounting for physicians in Phoenix.”
What is Your Unique Benefit?
Your unique benefit should highlight the one (or two) main things your product or service actually delivers (benefits) that your target customer really wants, not a long list of all the things your product does (features).
Who is Your Competition?
When someone is looking to buy a solution to a problem, they will quickly make sense of the alternatives to compare against – your competition. However, most entrepreneurs haven’t specifically defined who their real competition is and don’t focus their messages to create clear differentiation for their buyers. This frustrates the buying decision process and makes your marketing efforts weaker.
Why Are You Different and Better for Your Target Customer?
Once you have defined your competition, make a list of all the things you do differently and better. Then rank each of them by how important these factors are to your target customer. Pick the top one or two and put them on your homepage and include them in your elevator pitch.
What Does Your Marketing Strategy Statement Look Like?
When you put the five key decisions of marketing strategy in a sentence form, it looks like this fill-in-the-blank statement: