By Isaac Senior Bwambale

A marketing strategy is basically the company’s marketing goals and objectives combined into a single comprehensive plan.

Marketing strategies are long-term, forward-looking approaches to planning. Their fundamental goal is to achieve a competitive advantage. A good marketing strategy should be drawn from market research and focus on the right product mix in order to achieve the maximum profit potential and sustain the business.

A good marketing strategy helps companies identify their best customers. It also helps them understand consumers’ needs. With a good strategy, it is possible to implement the most tested and effective marketing campaigns/methods. When a company or business has an edge over a rival or rivals in the provision of a product or service, it has a competitive advantage.

A well-developed marketing strategy will help you realize your business’s goals and build a strong reputation for your products. A good marketing strategy helps you target your products and services to the people most likely to buy them. It usually involves you creating one or two powerful ideas to raise awareness and sell your products.

Developing a marketing strategy will help you make the most of your marketing investment, keep your marketing focused, and measure and improve your sales results. Here below are some basic approaches to develop a marketing strategy.

Identify your business goals
To develop your marketing strategy, identify your overarching business goals, so that you can then define a set of marketing goals to support them. Your business goals might include; increasing awareness of your products and services, selling more products from a certain supplier or reaching a new customer segment.

A Marketing goal goals must be SMART thus Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound

State your marketing goals
Define a set of specific marketing goals based on the business goals identified. Marketing goals will motivate you and your team and help you benchmark your success. Examples of marketing goals include increased market penetration (selling more existing products to existing customers) or market development (selling existing products to new target markets). These marketing goals could be long-term and might take a few years to successfully achieve.

However, they should be clear and measurable and have time frames for achievement. Make sure your overall strategies are also practical and measurable. A good marketing strategy will not be changed every year, but revised when your strategies have been achieved or your marketing goals have been met.

Also, you may need to amend your strategy if your external market changes due to a new competitor or new technology, or if your products substantially change.

Research your market
Research is an essential part of your marketing strategy. You need to gather information about your market, such as its size, growth, social trends and demographics (population statistics such as age, gender and family type). It is important to keep an eye on your market so you are aware of any changes over time, so your strategy remains relevant and targeted.

Profile your potential customers
Use your market research to develop a profile of the customers you are targeting and identify their needs. The profile will reveal their buying patterns, including how they buy, where they buy and what they buy.

Again, regularly review trends so you don’t miss out on new opportunities or become irrelevant with your marketing message. While you try to find new customers, make sure your marketing strategy also allows you to maintain relationships with your existing customers.

Profile your competitors
Similarly, as part of your marketing strategy you should develop a profile of your competitors by identifying their products, supply chains, pricing and marketing tactics. Use this to identify your competitive advantage – what sets your business apart from your competitors. You may also want to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your own internal processes to help improve your performance compared with your competition.

Develop strategies to support your marketing goals
List your target markets and devise a set of strategies to attract and retain them. An example goal could be to increase young people’s awareness of your products. Your corresponding strategies could be to increase your online social media presence by posting regular updates about your product on Twitter and Facebook; advertising in local magazines targeted to young people; and offering discounts.

Use the ‘7 Ps of marketing’
Identify your tactical marketing mix using the 7 Ps of marketing. If you can choose the right combination of marketing across product, price, promotion, place, people, process and physical evidence, your marketing strategy is more likely to be a success.

Test your ideas
In deciding your tactics, do some online research, test some ideas and approaches on your customers and your staff, and review what works. You will need to choose a number of tactics in order to meet your customers’ needs, reach the customers within your target market and improve your sales results.

Monitoring, assessment, and evaluation
You must monitor and evaluate or assess your strategy. It is important. Unfortunately, many people in business skip this part. Monitoring and evaluation help companies see how well their strategy is performing. It also helps them devise a future marketing strategy. In other words, it has both short- and long-term benefits.

The Writer is a Director of Strategy, Marketing and Sales at Marketing Brains Uganda.