Crafting the Ideal (Small) Business Strategy
It takes more than a fantastic product to establish a successful business. How innovative a product or service becomes is irrelevant if people don’t know it exists, and that awareness is empty if you aren’t showing them why it’s worth their hard-earned money.
That’s where marketing comes in. Marketing is just as if not more important than the product itself.
A solid marketing strategy will be intentional and insightful. As Rethink Creative’s Creative Director Kenn Scott points out, “Marketing strategy is actually made up of three things. The first thing is who are you going after; who's your audience? The second thing is what do you want them to remember or think about you? The third part of strategy is thinking about ‘if I know who my audience is and I know what message I want to communicate, what's the best way to get to that audience?’”
Let’s break that down a little further.
Marketing Strategy Part 1-
“Who are you going after; who’s your audience?”
For your marketing to be effective your target audience should be a relatively narrow demographic defined by one question: Who would find your product or service the most compelling?
Kenn lays out some basic questions to help narrow down and identify your audience. “The basics are the demographics. How old are they? What part of town do they live in? How much money do they make? Are they male or female? What race are they? And then once you have all those sorts of physical characteristics, then you move on to the psychographics of who you're talking about.”
Rethink CEO David Valentine knows that just having a grasp of the numbers isn’t enough. “Those things give you a defined individual. But sometimes it's really helpful to give that persona a name. So we can say ‘Hey, we are trying to reach Phyllis,’ and you can have a picture of who they are, what they look like. They are a 28 to a 35-year old woman who may or may not be a single person. Maybe they're dating but they're not married yet. They don't have kids; they're all about their career. They live in metropolitan areas. Now you're able to dictate in a really defined way, ‘This is who we think or know is actually purchasing products and services from us.”
When your audience demographic is turned into a persona it translates to a mindset you can think inside of. Understanding your audience on a tangible level (i.e. Why do they do what they do? What do they value?) is the key to communicating how your products or services meet their needs.
Marketing Strategy Part 2-
“What do you want your audience to remember or think about you?”
Your individual brand and voice are vital here. Your marketing strategy should connect your brand identity to your audience in a visceral way. How could your product or service impact their day to day lives?
Kenn explains that “knowing your product means taking a deeper examination of each of its ins and outs. How could your product impact your target audience?...What you're trying to achieve is to figure out how you're bringing improvement or benefits to your customer base.”
Taking it a step further, how does your brand identity line up with your audience’s personal values or goals? How can you present yourself in a way that resonates with their identity? To establish yourself as the premier choice you need to be aware of what you’re up against.
Ken asks, “What do your competitors offer? Compare that to what you offer and what Phyllis wants. The key is to try to figure out the one or two things you have that Phyllis wants that your competitors don't offer her. Then you start to get into the message and figure out how to communicate that message.”
Marketing Strategy Part 3-
“What’s the best way to get to that audience?”
Once you’ve established and refined your message you need to find the most effective way to communicate it to your target audience. As David sees it “the ‘freeway’ to get in front of your audience is on social media. You have to figure out what platform they're going to be on, which you can do through a quick Google search. The demographics of social media are shifting on a regular basis and people who were on a platform before are now using a different one.” It’s crucial that you stay up to date with your audience and put your message in a setting where they’re most likely to engage with it.
Remember, this is about identifying and understanding your target audience on a human level. You need to not only create a product that enriches their lives but you need to connect with them about who you are and what you offer in a genuine and compelling way. Breaking those connection points down can help you move through them successfully to achieve the results you’re seeking.
Have you identified your target audience? Does your product or service bring improvement to their life or solve for a certain need?
What message are you conveying to strategically establish yourself as the premier choice for your audience?
What platforms should you be using to maximize your return on investment?