There is no business without marketing. Every company, irrespective of its size, must market its products or services to attract customers or face closing down. Over the years, marketing strategies have evolved with the times, the advent of technology, and changes in consumer behavior. Although the traditional methods are still effective, modern techniques feature more creativity and have a wider reach. If your small business must survive amidst the stiff competition in the eCommerce industry, formulating an effective marketing plan that targets your specific customer base is essential.
Why a Solid Marketing Strategy is Important
A marketing strategy refers to a business’s action plan for achieving its short and long-term goals and developing a sustainable competitive advantage. It includes mapping out your potential customers, figuring out their needs, finding the best channels to reach them, and constructing your brand messaging to speak directly to them. Adopting a solid marketing strategy is imperative for the following reasons:
- It informs product development and pricing: An effective marketing strategy informs your product development process as it helps you decipher the specific needs of your target audience and the most suitable solutions to these needs. It also assists you in setting the right price for your products that’ll turn a significant profit without being too expensive for their intended buyers.
- It boosts brand awareness: Brand awareness refers to how many consumers are familiar with your business and its offerings. Implementing potent marketing strategies for small businesses can take your company from obscurity to widespread popularity. It puts your business right in the faces of your potential clientele and creates an avenue for meaningful engagement.
- It fosters customer loyalty and drives up revenue: A great marketing strategy allows you to identify the best routes to reach your audience. This helps you build strong relationships with your customers, which fosters loyalty. And the more loyal consumers are to your brand, the higher the revenue your business generates.
The section below shares six steps to building the perfect marketing strategy for your small business:
Run a SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis is a framework for identifying and analyzing the internal and external factors that can make or mar your business. SWOT is an acronym standing for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.”
Strengths: These are internal positive attributes that your business possesses, including:
- The efficiency of your business processes
- Team assets (such as network, education, credentials, research capabilities, reputation, and skills).
- Tangible assets (capital, existing customers, patents, manufacturing facilities, distribution channels, or technology).
- Other positive characteristics that add value to your company.
Weaknesses: Weaknesses refer to the negative internal attributes that reduce your company’s value. They include:
- Limited resources
- A geographical location with poor accessibility
- Absence of team and tangible assets like expertise, technology, education, etc.
- Factors within your control that result in a competitive disadvantage
Opportunities: These are external factors that are likely to make your business more successful. Examples are:
- Favorable changes in market situations
- New regulations that will impact your business positively
- Changes in consumer behavior that favor your brand
Threats: Threats are negative external factors that can reduce the effectiveness of your marketing strategy and put your business at risk. They include:
- Unfavorable market trends
- Changes in consumer behavior or government regulations that negatively affect your brand
- Increase in supplier prices and scarcity of raw materials
Running a SWOT analysis allows you to review the different factors that can affect your business and draft a marketing plan to minimize the effects of the negative elements while making the most out of the positive ones.
Determine Your Value Proposition
In marketing, a value proposition is a succinct description of the advantages customers who purchase a company’s goods or services would enjoy. It is your strongest selling point, which describes the reasons consumers should choose your brand over its competitors. Nailing your value proposition is key to the success of your marketing efforts. Below are a few tips to help you get it right:
- Determine the benefits of your product and explain its value.
- Identify an issue a potential customer may be experiencing and how your product can solve it.
- Communicate why your customer should trust your business to provide the product
What makes a good value proposition?
A good value proposition clearly communicates the benefits of purchasing your products. It avoids hype or unnecessary fluff and explicitly states the specific outcomes buyers can expect to enjoy when they patronize your small business. A great proposition also delineates your company’s offerings from its competitors and gives your target market tangible reasons to choose your business over others in the same industry.
Determine The Objectives of Your Marketing Strategy
Your marketing strategy should be tailored toward specific goals or objectives you wish to achieve within a specified time frame. Clear objectives allow you to build a marketing plan that will align with your business’s unique needs and yield the best results. Examples of these objectives include lead generation, brand awareness, sales, customer retention, improved social media presence, better customer engagement, etc. Once you’ve determined the goals of your marketing strategy, you can start working on a game plan to bring them to fruition.
Understand Your Market and Competitors
Undergoing research to understand your market is essential in business. It involves identifying your target audience using factors like age, geographic location, income level, education level, ethnicity, gender, marital status, occupation, hobbies, etc. Then, you need to figure out their specific wants and how your products can be modified to meet them. This gives you the information you need to make decisive plans and channel your advertising efforts in the right direction.
Market research also involves studying the prevailing trends in the industry and how your competitors are coping with the demands of modern consumers. It helps you identify what other businesses are doing right or wrong and learn from their experiences to avoid making poor decisions.
Develop Marketing and Promotional Strategies
As a small business owner, you need to develop clear promotional strategies that’ll speak directly to your target customers and convince them to patronize your brand. These strategies involve determining how you intend to utilize the available marketing tools to your advantage and refine inefficient aspects of your business processes.
If you wish to scale your small business, you need to establish goals to that effect. Being specific to your company goals keeps you motivated and drives your marketing efforts in the right direction. It prevents you from wasting valuable time and resources implementing promotional techniques that hold little to no benefit for your company.
After implementing your strategies, you should analyze the results to see if they’re hitting the mark. If it seems like one method isn’t working, look for ways to make it better or replace it with a suitable alternative.
Establish Your Marketing Methods and Channels
There are various marketing methods and channels you can use to promote your product or service to your intended audience. Note that not all marketing channels will work for your business, and that’s okay. You need to identify the best route to reach your ideal customers by targeting them on platforms where they already hang out.
Today, the most popular marketing channels include:
- Free marketing channels (e.g., customer reviews, search engine optimization (SEO), Google My Business, and Q&A platforms like Quora)
- Paid marketing channels (e.g., social media marketing, Google Adwords, influencer, and affiliate marketing, etc.)
- Digital or online marketing channels (e.g., email marketing, content marketing, social media presence, etc.)
- Traditional channels (e.g., direct mail, newspaper ads, live TV commercials, outdoor advertising like billboards, word-of-mouth, etc.)
Every marketing channel has its strengths and unique user demographics. So, if you want to engage with Baby Boomers and Gen X, use traditional marketing tools and get on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Want to promote your business to Gen Z? Head to TikTok, YouTube, and Snapchat and invest in channels like influencer and content marketing. You must consistently review the performance of any route you choose to identify the methods that yield the most conversion rates and direct more efforts toward them.
Let GoShip Handle All Your Shipping Needs
While having the perfect marketing strategy for your small business will increase your customer acquisition rate, an inefficient logistics system will result in poor satisfaction and a high churn rate. Fortunately, GoShip is capable of preventing all your hard work from going to waste by connecting you with professional freight carriers that can handle all your shopping needs. The self-service platform assists small to mid-sized businesses in finding reliable and cost-effective logistics solutions without requiring the services of a third party. Enter your shipment details in the online quotation tool to get a free FTL or LTL quote from carriers around you.