2. BRAND PLANNING
Brand strategy is the action plan for putting the brand to work. The communications system that provides structure and guidance for all points of contact within a business, both internally and externally with the customer.
It directly supports the business strategy and influences the total operation of a business to ensure consistent brand behaviors and brand experiences in all points of contact and channels of communication.
To keep brands fresh, relevant and at the forefront of customers’ minds, it is vital to have strong links between core brand values and positive customer experiences. The brand is brought to life through innovative products which are developed and driven by the brand strategy or action plan. Your brand strategy is the discipline of planning, of setting a course for the long term to achieve specific brand goals which are aligned to the business plan.
3. MARKET RESEARCH
Accurate and thorough information is the foundation of all successful business ventures because it provides a wealth of information about prospective and existing customers, the competition, and the industry in general. It allows business owners to determine the feasibility of a business before committing substantial resources to the venture.
Market research provides relevant data to help solve marketing challenges that a business will most likely face–an integral part of the business planning process. In fact, strategies such as market segmentation (identifying specific groups within a market) and product differentiation (creating an identity for a product or service that separates it from those of the competitors) are impossible to develop without market research.
4. IDENTIFYING TARGET AUDIENCES
A target market is a defined group most likely to buy a company’s products or services. Selecting the best target market for your business is the most important but difficult part of the marketing plan. Often, business owners will make many excuses when asked why they have not chosen a target because they believe that targeting limits their opportunities.
But if you don’t focus on the best customer for your business, you are missing out on opportunities to increase sales. When you narrowly define your niche market, your messages are clear, your offerings are precise and your marketing efforts are more effective, even to those not within your target market.
And no, you don’t need to define only one target. Both college students and CEO’s may purchase your product or enage your company, but they do so very differently.
Whether you run a small business or a multi-million dollar corporation, marketing is essential to your profitability and growth. Yet many small businesses don’t allocate enough money to marketing or, worse, spend it haphazardly.
I recently got to know a business that had developed a cool new product with good potential. However, it became apparent that Product Development hadn’t involved Marketing. The result? The week before launch, the business found itself with a fantastic product, but without any plan or budget to market it.
Products and services don’t sell themselves. By ignoring marketing until it’s too late, many small businesses risk hitting a brick wall and, quite possibly, failing.
But how much money should you allocate to marketing? And how can you spend it wisely?