Marketing Strategy

Marketing strategy is about how your markets are changing and, having recognised the trends, how your company must evolve to maximise profits from that changing market.

Types of strategy

Various types of strategy emerge as a matter of course and these can include the entrepreneurial strategy which is based on the personality of the owner of the business and his personal ambitions, the ideological strategy which is based on the owners moral values and beliefs whereby if you do the right things success will follow, the random strategy where different people or departments or divisions of a company do their own thing, the imposed or umbrella strategy where a strategy is imposed from above without those below having much of a say, a democratic strategy where all those involved have a say, and finally, the planned strategy.

Can you identify which type of strategy is employed in your organisation? One thing is for sure, really successful companies have a planned strategy, so you better get one too!

Planned Strategies

Planned strategies are those that analyse where the market is now, how big the market is, how the market is changing and whether the market is growing or in decline. It may be growing but splitting in the process, like the PC market did in the good old days. Planned strategies attempt to ask the questions ‘How is the market changing and how can the company evolve to maximise profits in the future?’

Market research is a good way of seeing how a market is changing and much published work exists to help identify how markets are changing. Specialised market research is expensive but can determine much more accurately what is happening in a given market. Specialist research can ask in depth and detailed questions of a market, perhaps questions which no other company, other than yours, would have an interest in.

A basic form of market research, which can at least produce some results at little cost, is to ask your customers how their businesses are changing and how they see the trends and what they intend to do about those trends. It does not cost much to talk to your customers and they will be so delighted they will think the level of service you provide has improved as well!

Clearly, if you have an idea of how your customers see the future, you can develop products and services to meet their needs.

Of course, you may be so knowledgeable about the changing markets your business operates in, that you actually know more about your customers markets than they do. In which case you will be able to lead them into the future, which must be a powerful USP for your company.

Whatever form of research you use, the point is to understand how the market you are working in, is changing. Successful businessmen are those who have a vision of the future and how to get there. Understanding where the market is going is extremely import, as without such knowledge it is impossible to have a vision of how to get there. Having formed a vision of where the market will be, perhaps in 5 to 10 years time, you need to think about the size of your company at that time and the composition of staff and the skills necessary in order to service that market and make a profit.

Your marketing strategy is your plan of how you will take your company from where it is now to where it should be in 5 to 10 years.

Businesses are like fruit machines

Businesses are like fruit machines, but instead of having to get three cherries up to hit the jackpot you have to have 10 cherries up. And the cherries have to stay up all the time! The 10 cherries represent, compared to your competitors, the best research, the best products, the best services, the best marketing strategy, the best marketing communications, the most efficient means of distribution, the best staff, the best prices and access to capital at the lowest possible rate, etc. If just one cherry is down, your business is at risk, though probably a small risk. If several cherries are down, the chances of your business remaining profitable are much reduced. The reality is that you will never quite get all the cherries up all of the time, but the most successful businessmen have an action plan to keep as many cherries up as possible. Ignore even one cherry, at your peril!

Businessmen and Consultants

Most business people are, quite naturally, proud of the cherries they have got up, but Consultants look at a business not from the number of cherries that are up but from the point of view of which cherries are down and what, if anything, needs to be done to get them back up. His interest in the business will be directly proportional to the number of cherries he believes he can get up.

Constant changes are required and changes require funding. Normally funding for change comes from todays profits, but in a competitive business, if you have to build in profits to fund change then it is difficult to compete with the companies who do not plan for the future.

 
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