Marketing Strategy and Marketing Planning

Marketing has evolved over the years from a product and sales centric environment to one more concerned with life-time customers; customer focus is more important than a quick sale.

A marketing strategy is a business direction to help guide a company when making decisions. The strategy is based on objectives, a competitor and market review and set against timescales.

In truth, anybody can register a company at companies house, open a bank account and even acquire clients. For a business to be successful you need a marketing strategy which segments, targets and positions your product at a specific customer, at the right price and at the right time.

Segmentation

Consumers come in different shapes and sizes. Segmentation enables a business to split these buyers into different groups and monitor their characteristics so as they can better meet the customers needs.

The most common segmentation is by gender, age and geographic region. Other segmentation variables can include;

- Socio- economic: societal class (A, B1,B2 etc)
- psychographics: beliefs and values

Targeting

After segmenting the entire market the next step is to target your product or service at a key area. The alternative is mass marketing; a product promoted to all segments of the market.

An example of targeting can be found in the insurance industry. There are car insurance providers just for women. The gender has been split because women are statistically safer drivers, which is what insurance providers want.

Positioning

Positioning your product is very much in the mind of the consumer. It's the responsibility of the company to convey the segment and target audience they want. For example, there are some car insurance companies targeting women by positioning their product using catchy jingles and pink cars.

The marketing mix (7P's)

Your marketing strategy will support your marketing mix (marketing plan). The marketing mix is a plan to focus your business, set standards and target specific markets.

The marketing mix consists of;

Product - What do you sell? Who do you sell it to?
Price - How much does it cost? Are there any discounts? Is your pricing strategy one of penetration or skimming?
Place - How does your product get to market? What channels do you sell through?
Promotion - How do you communicate and sell your product?
People - Who is involved in the process? What do they say about you?
Process - What happens during the manufacture / buying process?
Physical evidence - Are buildings, leaflets or packaging (anything tangible) important? If so what is your position regarding these?

A marketing strategy will differentiate your brand from competitors whilst your marketing mix will enable you to focus your product in a specific market for a specific consumer.

Most companies think strategically but fail to put it down on paper. This is a hazardous approach when your business begins to grow and you employ staff. Everybody has a view of how a company should grow, but only the CEO or owner can guide the company and everybody else must follow their direction. A marketing strategy will guide the business in the short, medium and potentially long term too.

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