How to: think about your marketing strategy

Think strategically

Written by: Johann Barnard

The key to developing a marketing strategy for your business is having a clear understanding of your business, the need that it satisfies and who’s need you are satisfying.

So says Brian Holmes, a founding partner of Scarlet Letter.

“You may not need to create a vision, mission statement and values statement, but you do need an elevator pitch – the 30-second overview of what your business offers, to whom, and the need that it meets,” he says.

It is clear, then, that your thinking is as much about your own business as it is about your customers. Once you have a clear picture of your business, you can then start looking at customers, market segments and how and what you’re going to communicate.

Understanding your customers
Brian suggests that you need to know certain basic facts about the people who you sell to:

- Who are they?
- What characterises them? Demographics is about breaking down customers by need, income (spending power and habits), location and tastes.
- What need your product or service satisfies?

Once you’ve built this picture of existing or potential customers, you can create a ‘persona’ for each customer segment. This segmentation allows you to tailor your marketing messages and channels to maximise their impact.

Thanks to the power of social media, you may be able to get a better idea of likes, dislikes, aspirations and frustrations of these market segments. This is especially true of potential customers who have not yet bought from you. You can ‘listen in’ on their state of mind by monitoring the social media channels of your competitors.

Converting leads into sales
Obviously, the main objective of marketing is to generate sales leads. But more importantly you want qualified leads who are already some way along the path to making that buying decision.

Converting these leads into sales is directly related to the tone, content and manner of your marketing communications.

You therefore need to speak to:
- your customers needs
- the fact that you have the skills, expertise, experience, solutions, products, or services they need
- how this satisfies their needs
- that other customers’ similar needs have been satisfied.

The channel or medium you use to communicate these messages will depend on what your understanding of your customers tells you. This may come from the social listening you’ve been doing to identify which channels they prefer, how they use them, what times of day are best to reach them, and what type of content they like most.

A key insight that Brian provides is that stories are a big part of marketing.

“People don’t buy a product. They generally buy based on an emotional response,” he says. “Figure out which emotions are appropriate to your product, service or solution, which emotions you want people to have, and then create content that embraces those emotions.”

This is all the more important in the age of social media as marketing has undoubtedly moved to a conversation rather than brands simply pushing out a message. And what better way to stimulate a conversation than through story telling?