Marketing is about more than increasing sales: It’s also about establishing relationships and building your brand. While word-of-mouth is a tried and trusted way to attract new customers, getting your business noticed by potential clients often requires more than a good product, great service and positive reviews. A killer marketing strategy can take your sales from mediocre to miraculous.
Why does a marketing strategy matter?
Perhaps you’ve invented the coolest product, or use the finest coffee beans in your cafe. That’s a great start. But you still need to tell people about what you’re selling to take your business to the next level. Creating a marketing strategy can amplify your reach and help you influence a wide range of potential new customers within your target market.
Key elements of a successful marketing strategy
Set an overall goal for your strategy. Think about whether your primary objective is to boost sales or increase brand awareness.
Identify your target audience. Create a persona based on your ideal client, consider their needs and what they value. Do you own a clothing store aimed at attracting millennials or a bar, hoping to get noticed by the after-work professional crowd? Think about whether you need to target the community in general — perhaps defined by a distinct geographical area if you own a local coffee shop — or a specific segment of the population, such as a new yoga studio offering prenatal classes for moms-to-be.
Do a SWOT analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats — this is a useful way to take an in-depth look at your business, pinpoint areas that can help you differentiate between your competitors, and clarify your unique selling proposition (USP). Within this model, strengths and weaknesses are internal factors in your business, whereas opportunities and threats come from external sources and can provide ideas for marketing themes. Check out this worksheet by Mindtools for more ideas.
Develop the appropriate strategy that’s best for your target audience
Knowing your target customer helps you to decide how they communicate, and which medium works best for reaching them. Snapchat and Instagram might be the best way to reach a younger audience. But Facebook and newspaper adverts might be a more effective way to let older customers know that you offer them special discounts every Thursday. Ask yourself: Who is your message intended for, what forms of communication do they use, and how are they going to find it?
If your primary goal is to raise brand awareness, then your social media efforts might also focus on increasing engagement or encouraging the online community to share user-generated content. This means your marketing strategy might include contests, special offers or targeted paid advertising. For instance, as Facebook Ads are a relatively economical way to target your audience.
Keep your company’s capacity in mind and scale to size. If you run a food truck, social media may be an ideal boost to your marketing strategy. You’re not going to want — or need — to pay for an ad on a billboard announcing your ever-changing location. Use the sales data in your Square Dashboard to see which products are selling well and which ones might benefit from a promotional boost. Dashboard also helps you to identify slow sales days so you can focus your marketing strategy on encouraging more business during those times.
Consider tactics that can help you increase sales and build awareness, such as a partnership with another local business. Look for businesses that have a complementary products: a tea shop and a a beauty product maker could team up to create tea-scented lotions; or a craft distillery could create a boozy ice cream flavor with an artisan gelato maker. Creative partnerships have the ability to boost brand awareness for both parties and may be an ideal hook for your marketing strategies.