Regardless of size and industry, every business requires an effective marketing strategy but many make the mistake of overlooking this essential aspect of business planning. A marketing strategy works by defining the objectives and goals of a firm’s marketing efforts, covering everything from demographics to budget management.

Creating a marketing strategy for the first time can be overwhelming and the prospect of doing something new and unfamiliar can lead to frustration and procrastination. However, by following a simple set of guidelines it is possible to create a marketing plan that when put into action can improve the profitability of your company and allow you to focus you efforts on other aspects of running your business.

First steps

The first hurdle that firms face when creating a marketing strategy is establishing where they are in the first instance. Before going on to plan future objectives it is important to make an assessment of the company’s current position on its marketing efforts and expenditure.

Establish current business output and market share

A range of things should be considered when making these first steps but the most significant factors will most likely by your firm’s current business output and market share within the relevant industry. By establishing these important aspects it is easier to set realistic yet challenging goals for your firm to aim for. This is a vitally important aspect of a marketing strategy as it provides a benchmark from which your firm may be assessed further down the line.

Establish desired business output and market share

With your current position already evaluated, you will want to set your business goals and objectives as to how you want to grow these factors. An example of these may be that you wish to expand business output or divert attention to slightly different section of market share. These objectives should be set to timescales to enable you to come back and evaluate how well you approached these aims.

Who are your customers?

In contrast to a business strategy, marketing strategy should be aimed not at production or product design but instead solely on whom you want to buy your product. For this reason, much of a marketing strategy should be based on information about who is buying your products and how they are interacting with your brand. These can be very simple datasets such as the age and gender of your current audience, to more advanced information, such as time of day they are most likely to buy.

Who do you want to be your customers and how will you reach them?

It is also important to establish a target demographic. In some cases this may be similar to your product or service’s current demographic, but you may also wish to try tailoring your marketing strategy with the intention of appealing to a new audience. In doing this you will wish to consider what the most appropriate forms of marketing for reaching your target demographic may be. These will vary from product to product but the use of digital platforms such as Facebook and Twitter should not be ignored. Each potential strategy should be analysed based on their relative cost and predicted effectiveness.

What are your overall aims and objectives?

Once you have established your target demographic and decided on an appropriate range of strategic approaches, you will need to create a list of goals and objectives. This is undoubtedly the most important aspect of any marketing strategy as it will dictate the direction of your firm’s entire marketing efforts. These objectives should all be quantifiable to some extent as it is important to keep track of progress. These objectives can include everything related to marketing, such as increases to sales, income or changes in staffing levels or acquiring larger premises.