Peter Sutton, managing director of full service marketing agency PMW Communications, offers his top tips on how to create a marketing strategy
- Work out who you are
One of the biggest errors a company will make is just jumping in and putting together an advert, or posting aimlessly on social media, without there being any form of message or purpose.
The ultimate purpose of a marketing strategy is usually to gain more customers, or to grow a business, so before you do anything you need to work out what makes your company stand out.
Get together a team, or work with a marketing expert, take a step back and think about your company.
Are you the only showroom in the UK supplying a type of product; does your company have extensive knowledge of the industry because it has been trading for a long time; do you have a particular service that a competitor doesn’t offer, or maybe you have a commitment to exemplary customer service?
We call this the ‘thread’ as this message will be woven through all marketing activity and bring cohesion to a strategy.
- Identify your target audience
Once you know what you want to say, you need to work out who you are going to say it to. Do you want to speak to retail customers, and, if so, what type of demographic, or are you targeting trade customers?
It can be beneficial to carry out some market research to determine how your potential customers view news and advertising, or how they make purchases, as this can help you choose what marketing platforms to focus on.
Your target audience and your thread should be in your mind whenever you start a new piece of marketing, and doing this work at the start will help you determine objectives and set targets.
- Work to a budget
Marketing is a completely different arena now to when I started PMW Communications 26 years ago.
We now offer 10 core marketing services, all of which have many branches to them; unless you have a bottomless pit of money, don’t try and cover every platform.
It’s best to do something well or not attempt it at all.
A marketing strategy can fail because a company tries to stretch the budget and do a little bit of everything, whereas concentrating on two or three options, and doing them well, can bring more lucrative results.
- Choose your platform
This can perhaps be the tricky part.
If your target audience tends to do everything online, then a digital campaign, which could include search engine optimisation, social media, online advertising and a well-performing new website may be the way to spend your budget.
Alternatively, trade shows are great ways to generate new business contacts, or a PR campaign spreading company news builds brand awareness.
If one of your objectives is to drive footfall to a showroom, then lifestyle adverts in a glossy magazine, or new showroom visuals might be the route to take.
The likelihood is that a combination of more than one marketing element will be required to bring you the results you desire.
- Review and analyse
Whether you want to grow sales, drive people to a showroom, or increase social media engagement, are your objectives being achieved?
It’s important to review a marketing strategy regularly so you can identify if things start to stagnate, and subsequently evaluate and mix things up.
However, many businesses think they will receive instant results after placing one advert.
With any marketing campaign it can take six months or more to see the benefits, so be sure to plan for the long-term.