Marketing Strategies

The real goal of any marketing strategy is to grow business. Your marketing strategy should grow your business's direct marketing sales, increase awareness of your brand and forge stronger ties with your current customers. Increasing your brand awareness should also lead to growth in sales and forging bonds with existing customers, again, should lead to increased sales.

Your marketing strategy should be a written description of the various facets of your marketing program (this written document is your Marketing Plan). It should provide specific details about planned marketing activities. It should also identify as clearly as possible who each of those activities are targeting and how you are going to measure the success of each of the activities. You can be as detailed as you wish, or just cover the basics. But know now that the more thought you give the marketing strategy, the more likely its chances of success.

There are no easy shortcuts in this process. The traditonal marketing process goes like this:marketing-cycle

  • increase brand awareness,
  • generate leads,
  • educate and engage those on your lead list,
  • convert them to customers, and
  • give them reasons to become loyal customers.

A successful marketing strategy will provide a short description of the actions you plan to take on all of those topics.

Give yourself some quiet time to disappear and think about those topics before you try to write your plan. If you're a farmer, driving to town or going out at sunset to check livestock are perfect opportunities to throw ideas around in your head or discuss them with your partner. Small business owners may want to try pondering on their way to a Chamber of Commerce meeting or some other appointment. Try to go through a process for each topic of deciding what you want to accomplish, how you think you can accomplish it and what tools you will use to get the job done.

Using a farm example, to create awareness of your new organic produce CSA, you need to get your farm's name and reputation out to more people (create brand awareness). To do this, you might use the Internet, engage people at the weekly swap meet and try to engage with people when you drop off your stuff at the recycling centre. Tools needed? A new website, a flyer or postcard to distribute in and around the businesses and social events that you go to. How about an electronic newsletter to keep your customers engaged, offering cooking tips, schedules for produce delivery and a contest or two to get people more involved? And to ice the cake, how about posting the produce selection you are bringing to the farmers' market on Facebook and Twitter each week?

A small business example: to improve sales of a new line of skin products, you will need to introduce the line and its benefits to your clients. To accomplish this, you might try an email newsletter focused on the line. How about putting a postcard with an introductory discount on the first purchase of the new line into the bag with all purchases in your store? Don't forget to throw out a post on Facebook about the discount cards available at your store and use Twitter to remind your followers about the promotion.

Those are two stabs at the beginning of a marketing strategy! 

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