Answer this one question to clarify the direction of your marketing strategy, because without a clear marketing strategy, you’re going nowhere fast
When we start our businesses, we have a dream. A clear vision. A plan. Great hopes and expectations.
Then, all too often, reality sets in. The daily grind. Finding and training employees. Customer complaints. A million logistical issues that overwhelm our minds and passions.
Sometimes being in business feels like you’re in a foxhole, and there are so many bullets flying over your head that you can barely see the sky for the pellets. Sometimes, the day-to-day demands of our business makes us keep our heads down. A study by Nonprofit Colleges Online states that 99% of employees face distraction on a daily basis.
Sometimes, we lose sight of our goals and our strategy.
The difference between businesses that thrive in changing environments and those that falter is that the businesses that thrive never lose sight of their strategic direction. Even with the million issues flying around, they are still able to maintain their focus.
Successful business owners and leaders stand tall. They see the big picture. They have a clear plan for getting from where their business is to where they want it to be.
If you are having trouble staying focused on your long-term goals in your business and in your marketing answer this one simple question. Post this question at your desk where you can see it every day. Set aside time every month or every quarter to revisit the question and your answers. Set reminders in your phone. Whatever it takes.
Set your marketing strategy direction by answering this question:
By order of priority who are your target customer segments, and why should they choose to do business with you versus any other choice they may have?
Seems simple, right? In other words:
- Who are you selling to? and
- What about your offer will make them want to buy from you?
Although it may seem simple, it is actually a very deep and loaded question.
In order to answer the question, you must understand the following:
1. Target segments - Who You Are Selling To
- Who are your target segments?
- What is the profile of your ideal customer in each target segment? Have you built personas for them and are the personas up to date and accurate?
- Which target customers or segments are you prioritizing (and why)? Hint: Force a prioritization so that there are no equals. Make a list, and make it clear which target segment is number one, which is number two, and so on.
2. Understanding what is important to your target customers - Your Value Proposition
- What other options do your target segments have?
- How do they make choices? Do you know what factors are important factors to them and will influence their decision? Do you know what they are indifferent to?
- What value are you offering that is meaningful to your ideal target customer? How will you articulate this? Are you selling what your customer is buying?
- What research have you done to generate these insights?
3. Competition and Alternatives - What Makes You Distinct
- Who are your direct competitors? What is their value proposition? How is your value proposition unique and compelling by comparison?
- Who are your indirect competitors? What other products/services would your target customer segment consider for solving their problem? How is your value proposition unique and better?
- Are you monitoring your competitors' activities on a regular basis?
- Do your target customer segments have an option to do nothing? If so, is your value proposition compelling enough for them to want to take action?
- To your target segments - How well are you communicating your value proposition to your target segments, and is it stated in a way that answers their most important questions? Have you told them what your value proposition is? Do they know and understand what you do and the reasons why they should choose to do business with you?
- Within your business - Does everyone in your business have a common understanding of your priority customer segments, and what your value proposition is for each? How does this common understanding influence other activities across your business, e.g. marketing, business development, branding, communications, customer service, product / service features, pricing, hiring, training, etc.
So as you can see it is a simple question, but answering it will not be easy. Many businesses of all sizes struggle with having this clarity.
The good news is, if you do take the time and effort to answer this question and clarify your marketing strategy direction, you will be ahead of 90% of the marketers and businesses out there. You will have clear direction to your marketing strategy, and you can use this direction to guide your business and your marketing.
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