Business

BUSINESS TRACK: Marketing starts with your customers

It
It's important for businesses to sit down and develop a marketing plan.
— image credit: Submitted photo

As the economy begins to move, this is a good time to focus on your business strategies with marketing playing a key role in how you plan to move forward.

Your marketing plan details how you intend to meet your customers’ needs and communicate the benefits of your products or services to them. When deciding about market positioning, pricing, promotions, and sales, your customers should be top of mind.

 

The Four Key Components of Your Plan

Your marketing plan should describe how you will segment your target market, how you will position your products or services compared to your competition, what your pricing strategy will be, and how you will effectively reach and influence your customers.

 

1. Your Target Market

Your target market is a group of customers that has a similar need for a product or service, money to purchase the product or service, and willingness and ability to buy it.

To identify your target market and best serve your market, you need to:

• Know your customers;

• understand what your customers need;

• why they buy.

 

Because you have limited time, resources, and budget, you cannot be everything to everyone. To effectively reach customers, you need to segment your target market into one primary market on which you focus most of your energy, and at most three secondary markets.

You can segment your target market along four key characteristics:

• Demographic: Who are your customers?

• Geographic: Where do they live?

• Psychographic: Why do they buy?

 

2. Your Market Positioning

Positioning is the image of your product or service that you create in the mind of your target market. Your goal is to create an image that’s unique, differentiated, and definable in the mind of your customers. It’s essential that all of your marketing materials support the position or image you are creating. It’s also critical for you to know your present and potential competitors, both direct and indirect. Examine their strengths and weaknesses relative to yours. This will help you select a market position that provides a competitive advantage.

Your overall position should emphasize those factors that your customers value most, and those which make you stand out from your competition.

 

3. Your Pricing Strategy

Price is a very important factor in your marketing plan; however should not be the sole focus of your plan. Pricing strategies need to be relevant to your value not your competitors only.

 

4. Your Promotion Strategy

Promotion is the activity of informing, persuading, and influencing your customers’ purchase decisions.

The type and scope of promotional activities that you need to undertake will depend on what the promotion is intended to do, and what goals and objectives you want to achieve.

 

There are four general types of promotional activities:

1. Advertising.

2. Sales promotion. Sales promotions focus on short-term incentives to encourage sales of your products and/or services.

3. Publicity and public relations.

4. Personal selling. This type of promotion involves a direct, face-to-face relationship with your customer. It includes explaining or demonstrating the features and benefits of your products and/or services in an attempt to persuade the customer to buy.

To learn more about marketing, join us for Lunch & Learns during October, Small Business Month. Industry experts will teach you the important aspects of positioning your brand in the market.

Go to www.MissionChamber.bc.ca for more info.

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