I try hard to make the best use of my time. I can’t afford to mess around with activities that won’t bring me a certain amount of return. And that’s why, for each activity I do, I try to know precisely what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I try to think strategically about it. I’m not interested in guessing or hoping that a strategy will work, either. I want to know it will.
Unfortunately, too many companies guess and hope with their marketing activities. This is why strategic planning is so important in marketing. With careful planning, you get a whole lot more bang for your buck.
So where do you start?
Focus on your message first
Your message is the heart of your marketing. Everything else about your marketing plan is just a tactic to get people to hear your message. If your message isn’t spot on, then none of those tactics really matter, do they?
Don’t leave that message to chance. Do a little strategic homework first.
- Why do your customers choose you? Look beyond the features that your customers like (and the features that you like) and figure out what the important benefits are. For example, do customers come to your store because you’re open late in the evenings? Late store hours are a feature; convenience is the benefit. How many features/benefits can you come up with?
- What marketing messages are your competitors using? In their marketing activities, what do they say to their customers? It doesn’t matter whether you think their marketing is effective or not; all you need to do right now is identify how they position themselves.
Find your Unique Value Proposition
Now, compare #2 with #1 and cross off any matches. What’s left over is your Unique Value Proposition.
Your Unique Value Proposition is your core marketing message. It’s an opportunity for you to differentiate yourself from everyone else in the marketplace. You want to lead every marketing activity with this message for two reasons: (1) it conveys strong benefits that matter to your customers, and (2) it sets you apart from your competition.
Now you’ve got the beginning of a well-thought-out strategic marketing plan. Take it and run with it!