What does it take to market a product or a service? What does “marketing strategies” really mean? You want to put your products out there in the marketplace, but how do you determine what your target market really wants? What can they afford? Once you’ve determined these, you must inform them about it. How do you entice them to take a closer look? Then, how do you convince them to buy it?
Develop compelling marketing strategies and execute them with great diligence!
Four P’s of marketing strategies
Marketing is the act of promoting what your company has to offer with the intention of selling it. Marketing strategies contain four P’s…Product, Price, Place, and Promotional strategy. Product is determined by much more than an idea. It must be evaluated and proven. A great deal of research and calculation is required to fix upon the total cost and market value of your product.
That, in turn, determines the Price. Place, being where the customer resides, will be driven by economic indicators like regional employment statistics. Then demographics…your target audience. Plan your promotional strategy based on your industry. This is how you’ll inform the public about your product and will be the most important endeavor in each of your marketing strategies.
Sounding tough? Let’s break marketing strategies down and look at them step by step. Being prepared for a venture of this magnitude will make all the difference!
Your marketing strategies must include market research
Understanding what the public finds important or appealing is usually an underestimated hurdle. Also, knowing what the public can generally afford or may be willing to sacrifice for is a science in itself. Serious market research is a necessary prerequisite. It’s an on-going action-item when launching a business or product and when developing your marketing strategies.
Trust the data
What YOU think the public wants may not actually be the case. Unless you’re an extraordinary visionary like Elon Musk, or the late Steve Jobs, don’t be stubborn about this. Do the market research and trust the data, even if it goes against your thinking. This will mitigate much of the risk, and move the odds in your favor. It will allow you to be even more successful executing your marketing strategies.
Satisfy a need
One very rewarding obligation of doing business – executing your marketing strategies, is the ability to satisfy a need. This may entail solving a problem or filling a market niche that will benefit the public. Sometimes the problem or need already exists. But sometimes the public may not even realize they have the need. You may be able to reveal it to them. You may also create the need with a new idea. Utilizing market research in your marketing strategies will more accurately determine where those needs exist or where they can be created. It’ll reveal the best ways to satisfy them.
Market research tools
To start, you need to have a business or product idea that you wish to launch. I assume you have some good ideas already. But if not, take some time, think it through, and write them down. You may also visit some web sites to help with this. For example, use the Business Idea Center of Entrepreneur magazine web site. There you can pick an industry and surf into business and product idea paradise. Once your ideas are established, you must put them to the test. And this is where the many market research tools will shed some light. Then they will gauge the potential for success of your marketing strategies.
The SBA (Small Business Administration) provides many such market research tools that can go into your marketing strategies. Local economic indicators are available for your geographic area of interest. They include income and employment statistics along with other statistics. Visit the Bureau of Economic Analysis to find a barrage of economic indicators that will provide key data about the region you wish to do business in. Or you can use this to find a good target region. There is a wealth of other tools and resources there too. They include business training, financial support, and a broad network of affiliates ready to help you develop your marketing strategies.
Another approach is to just hit the pavement when executing your marketing strategies. Get to know where your demographic lives, works, shops, and plays. Plenty of resources provide this data already. But it’s always a good idea to just get out there and investigate for yourself. Adding this approach to your marketing strategies will provide a deeper understanding of your demographic.
Market research techniques
There are two specific approaches to market research. Your marketing strategies should start with at least one of these.
Qualitative research for market studies – focus groups
There are some good web sites and resources which provide viable market research data. But you can’t beat the results you get from actually hitting the pavement. Get live public feedback about what you have to offer. Interact with your target market and capture their opinions and feelings.
Previously published market research is considered secondary data. It can and should be an integral part of your on-going study. It WILL benefit you but you must get your hands dirty. While executing your marketing strategies, acquire real-life research data that shows how the public reacts to YOUR idea.
As an example, read the Guidelines for Conducting a Focus Group published on the Duke University web site. This shows a good approach to using focus groups as part of your marketing strategies. The guidelines expressed in this publication actually argue against doing surveys, but surveys do provide very good primary test study data as well. You must understand and account for their shortcomings. Don’t limit your marketing strategies.
To find more references on the best ways to set up a focus group in your area do a simple Google search. Use key-words in the search, and add to your key-word list as you discover more from previous searches. Market research isn’t an exact science. Compile a good market test study plan and then get out there and do the work…execute your marketing strategies.
Quantitative research for market studies – surveys
In order to effectively survey the public to get their opinion about your idea, take the time and write up a thorough questionnaire. It must target every aspect of the idea you want to present. Carefully think of key questions to ask. Then, formulate the questions in a way that invokes an honest, unbiased response. Again, there are many resources available online showing how to do this effectively. Search online, click, read, and write ideas down as you go. You’ll be able to develop this in a short amount of time and then add it to your marketing strategies.
There are many ways to get your survey out there to the public. Mail and email are always effective ways to get it out there. Be sure to not restrict yourself to just email though. It limits your exposure to less than half of the population, statistically. To do this online, you may want to check out sites like Survey Monkey. These sites will help you set up your survey and post your survey online. Here is a nice link on Survey Monkey which provides some very helpful information on how to do this effectively.
Promoting your survey is the next step. You may consider trying something creative. Set up a small table in a public place and erect a sign. It may state “Get $5 to fill out a survey” as an example. Offer a small free gift with a flyer showing where to fill out your survey online. That helps iff they don’t have time to fill it out right then. Make sure you get a good sample size, like 100 people or more. Do it at least twice, using a different location on a different day. This will provide you with good data correlation when performing the analysis.
Market research data collection
Data collection is the process of gathering and measuring the data derived from the quantitative or qualitative research that you have performed. You must ensure that your findings are valid and accurate since this data will be analyzed and interpreted to determine your next course of action, or the direction your company or product will take. Your decisions will be based on this data. Having incorrect market research data is much worse than having no data at all, and can cost your company its potential market position, or worse…it can cause your company to fail.
Capture your data
Develop a formal process to capture and secure your market research data for safe keeping. Using a well-crafted spreadsheet always works, and is what I recommend, but there are other tools you may use for this. Just be sure to have a table or matrix created ahead of time that will provide a location to insert each data point in the correct category defined by the survey or focus group outline.
Create a template
Put much thought into the template you create to house your market research data. It needs to be understandable. You need to clearly know where each data point will be placed. Also, weeks may go by between data entries, so it must make sense. You don’t want to spend time trying to figure out what you meant by this or that. Others may also need to enter data into your template, so please keep this in mind. It will help ensure data validity, knowing each data point was entered into the correct category.
Put all of the right KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) into your market research outline. The indicators you choose will depend on what is important to your company, product or service. KPIs will determine the type of questions you wish to ask and the type of data points you will collect.
It’s up to you
Now you can perform the market research using the tools and techniques stated earlier or pick others…it’s all up to you. Perform the market research study, carefully collect and store the data from the study, and then prepare yourself for the data analysis and interpretation stages. They will require much thought, vision, and some math.
Market research data analysis
After you have collected the market study data, it’s time to really get to work. As I stated earlier, market research is not an exact science, so much thought must go into this stage of the operation. Prepare yourself for some serious math, but with simple concepts.
Most calculations can be performed in spreadsheet formulas, so please don’t get intimidated. The data analysis stage can be fairly complex and time consuming, but attack it in stages, using a strategy containing specific goals that you set. This effort can have the greatest impact on the marketing of your product or service.
Be sure to organize your data very well, and then reduce it down into clusters using probability distributions. This will allow you to use the pertinent, more consistent data points. Then you should put the data into a matrix which reveals the frequency distributions.
This will show the percentage of time each data point falls into a particular data cluster. Always keep the data raw and organized in a table, for easier management. Once these data clusters come to light, the data will start to reveal a story about what the public cares about. The mental process of interpreting the data will already begin, but be careful to not start interpreting the data until you understand some key points which will be discussed later.
You may also use resources for data analysis to help you deal with all of the data you have collected. About Money is a nice web site providing good guidance in many areas of running a business. Here is a link to a specific page which really details the process I have described. Another resource is Market Site which provides software tools for performing statistical analysis on survey results data and has a free trial version.
Displaying your data in a concise and actionable way is very important. Much consideration needs to go into intuitive data formulation. You may display your data in one of many ways using charts and graphs. Here is a link to a page which lists and provides good details about the many ways to display your data is at stats at StatSoft. They provide many software products and solutions that can help with your data. To be frank about this though, being a true do-it-yourselfer, I recommend using Excel for all of this.
Do the work
The results from this analysis will really make a key difference in what decisions you make about your products or services. Also, the marketing efforts you embark on will be determined by this. Lack of attention in the area of marketing data analysis is one big reason why most businesses fail. It’s not the difficulty of it, it’s the energy most people are not willing to put into it. Do the work, as best you can, and with much thought, and you’ll increase your odds of success SUBSTANTIALLY!
Market research data interpretation
Once the data has been laid out and analyzed, you must interpret the results. Really consider what the public has to say about your idea. This needs to be fully understood prior to tapping into your personal vision for your idea. Think it through, and try to imagine the future of your business or product while always considering the statistical data first and foremost.
What the data is saying
Evaluate and prioritize the KPIs that you used in the market research data collection stage. Then compare how each data point fits into your goals for each indicator. This needs to be laid out in a critical manner. Have a strategy in place for this stage, and attack the data from all possible angles, so you fully understand what it is saying. Then, you will realize what the public really thinks of your idea. Develop a good understanding of how the data relates to your business.
Be objective in your approach to interpreting the data. You need to avoid statistical bias as you proceed with this process. This type of selective thinking can cause statistical errors and can cause you to ignore information that refutes how you think it should be. Be unbiased and maybe even use an independent resource to perform the data interpretation in parallel in order to confirm your findings.
The point is, you want to know exactly what the public thinks, whether you like it or not. You need to completely ignore what you think the public wants. Your feelings on this are simply irrelevant.
Now make it marketable
Now that you understand what the public thinks about your company, product or service, you need to make any necessary adjustments to it for marketability. Make your idea marketable, and then your advertising will have the potential to be very effective.
Marketing strategies include advertising strategies
Prior to starting an advertising campaign, you need to have good sales staff already prepared to sell, and close the deal regarding your new product of service. Properly train and motivate them about what you are offering. Thoroughly educated and excited sales staff that knows how to close deals effectively will provide a good hook and net for the customers who are lured in by the advertising. Then you can reel them in.
Reach and persuade your customers
In order to know what should go into your advertising content, you need to start with a good strategy. This is a plan to reach and persuade customers to inquire about your product or service. Obviously, you must provide them with something that represents what you have advertised. Develop a game plan that really shows how the product or service stands out above the competition.
Establish the positioning statement about your product or service. This statement is of the utmost importance and should shed light on the unique value your product or service offers. What benefits will you bring your customers? Also, it will define the target demographic which will focus the advertising specifically on them. The product or service category must be clearly defined by this statement, and that will prevent any confusion about what you’re selling. In this positioning statement, prove to your audience that they can trust you. The final statements you develop which will go into your marketing strategies must be short, concise, and deliver impact in each of these areas.
There is one key difference between a positioning statement and a tagline. Taglines are outward facing. They are simple, compelling statements viewed by the customer. The positioning statement is internal, and will be used to define all advertising and even internal operations. You can use the position statement to test all new ideas, to ensure they match up with what you are really going for. A fun example is from Harley Davidson:
The only motorcycle manufacturer that makes big, loud motorcycles for macho guys (and “macho wannabes”) mostly in the United States who want to join a gang of cowboys in an era of decreasing personal freedom.
That is a clearly defined identity for sure!
American by birth. Rebel by choice.
This fits well and sounds compelling to their target demographic, right?
Here is a simple template you can use to set up your own positioning statement:
- For (target customer)
- Who (statement of need or opportunity)
- (Product name) is a (product category)
- That (statement of key benefit)
- Unlike (competing alternative)
- (Product name)(statement of primary differentiation)
Once you have this statement completed, allow it to fully sink in, so it becomes instinct. That way, you’ll always be able to answer correctly when you question any idea, to see whether it seems to fit into the identity of your company or product line.
Advertising your products or services
There is no need discuss all of the many, many forms of advertising out there. You see it all around you, on the streets, on television, online, and you hear it on the radio. The forms of advertising you chose will be based on your industry and what you can afford. More than that, which form of advertising will be most effective for your marketing strategies? Choose the variety which provides the best bang-for-the-buck. Be sure to start small so you can optimize your ads affordably before they go into your marketing strategies.
One defining factor used to determine your advertising budget is the cost of customer acquisition. This number is derived from a simple equation: Money spent to bring them in divided by the number of customers you receive. The equation gets more complex when you add customer loyalty and repeat business, but those factors lower the cost of customer acquisition. Your marketing strategies must consider the cost of customer acquisition.
Be prepared to sell before executing your marketing strategies
Before you advertise, be fully prepared to sell. You and your sales staff must truly understand your product or service and be ready to deal with the public when they inquire about it. Ineffective answers to inquiries after advertising simply wastes the time, effort, and money that went into finding customers in the first place. After you put sales people in place that can really sell and close deals effectively, you’ll be ready to advertise your products or services.
Create a desire
A successful advertisement will compel your target audience by creating a desire and revealing a nice way to satisfy that desire. Appeal is very important but can be very difficult to determine. Usually, ads, after much evaluation and improvement, need to be tested. Good statistics must be kept with every ad design iteration and then compared to the previous version.
This part of your marketing strategies is very involved. But it will allow you to tailor your advertisements for your target audience to maximize appeal. Set a tone which caters to your customer’s wants and needs. It must shape their associations, feelings, perceptions and attitudes to your brand when they think of products or services related to your industry. That is the strategic part of marketing strategies.
Be seen multiple times in order to gain trust from the public. It’s human nature for people to slowly gain trust in something or someone simply by having reoccurring contact. The first time they see an ad from your company, they will probably disregard it. They don’t know who you are.
But after seeing an ad from you multiple times, if they have an interest in your product, their confidence will begin to build. They may finally inquire about your product. Knowing this, just be patient. Repeat your ad campaign over and over until you really start seeing results. After that, like magic, your phone may really start ringing off-the-hook, or your in-box will start to fill with inquiries.
As I stated before, there are many forms of advertising out there to put into your marketing strategies. Find the one that will be most effective for each dollar you spend executing your marketing strategies.
Now, get out there and sell!
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Effective Marketing Strategies
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