Are you looking for a quick win with your marketing efforts, or a sustainable strategy on which your business can grow? We hear of social media posts that go viral or online Ad campaigns that rocket a web page up the listings, and we want those results. However, these rare successes are often short-lived. To build your business, you need solid marketing foundations; we explain why…
What do we mean by Solid Marketing Foundations?
A new home can be made of the latest materials and have tremendous kerb appeal, however, if it has weak or little foundation, you’ll understand it is vulnerable and may crack and crumble. The same can be said for your business. Establishing solid foundations provides a strong base on which to create a marketing strategy that actively supports your business objectives. You’ll also find it easier to adapt and flex as a result.
The best way to consistently meet your business growth objectives is to make sure you have a solid foundation from which to build. Things like a dated website, disorganized database, inadequate messaging, inefficient technology and processes, or inability to measure results can prevent an organisation from ever reaching its full potential.
Solid marketing foundations mean having a thorough understanding of the environment in which your business trades; your buyers and your competition; the risks and opportunities. It means defining – and aiming to achieve – both company and customer goals.
It means that you have a strong base to develop and deliver the right messaging, for the right audience for your products or services, at the right time.
So how do you go about this? Below we highlight some simple yet effective steps you might take.
STEP ONE: Internal Audit and Evaluation
Gather together your business stakeholders to clarify where the company is now and where you want it to be.
As part of the audit process, give thought to your:
- Brand identity – Your business’ personality values and the perception prospects and customers have of your business.
- Target audience – Their requirements and the problems or needs that your products/service solves. Consider your existing clients, do they align with your target audience and what makes them buy from you?
- Client retention rates – Do you have access to this information and how do you maintain brand loyalty.
- Competitors – Who are your competitors; would your target audience be tempted to buy from them and what is your point of difference?
- Your online presence – what does your website need to do, is it fit for purpose; is your website and social media aligned to our brand identity?
- Operations and resources – Are they helping or hindering your goals and outcomes?
STEP TWO: Marketing Analysis
The second stage of setting the foundations is marketing analysis. This will be especially useful if you’ve never carried out any market research. Again it is vital to involve your key stakeholders in this process as everyone will have something of value to add and it’s a critical part of building that solid foundation. Here’s a couple of the most common tools that we use:
- SWOT analysis – Mapping out the organisation’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Remembering that two are internal and two are external.
- PESTLE analysis – Considering political, economic, sociological, technological, legal and environmental factors that could impact your business’ fortunes.
Collectively, these steps provide insight that will inform the marketing strategy, budget, time scales and responsibilities.
Building the Marketing Pillars
Once you and/or your marketing team are confident that a solid foundation is in place for your business, you can consider the pillars of your marketing strategy – traditionally these have been Product, Price, Place and Promotion though in recent years extended to incorporate Physical Evidence, People, Processes, and Productivity and Quality. Ensure your pillars are relevant, solid, and balanced, to support your business. This might include:
- A new CRM (customer relationship management) system to maintain client and prospect information.
- Developing an additional sales stream.
- A new website.
- The means to gather data that will inform future product and service development.
How to Develop a Marketing Strategy
It takes time and dedication to prepare the foundations, and then to plan and implement a marketing strategy with which to grow your business. This can be tricky for SMEs, not least because of the objectivity required, but because they face many other business management demands. For this reason, many decide to outsource their marketing requirements.
You might also like to read a further article on marketing strategy.
The specialist team at Alison Page Marketing work with small to medium sized business owners to audit, analyse and action marketing plans that drive business growth, and have been doing so since 2009. Our team have the expertise and experience to know what it takes to build a brand, engage a target audience and generate returns. We deliver solutions that bring longer-term value to your customers and brand.