Entrepreneurs must learn to tackle many tactics when marketing their businesses, including website design, social media and other offline and online marketing methods. But the foundation for building all those elements and tactics is strategy. Your marketing and sales strategy is the plan to drive your business growth. It’s the cement that holds those elements and tactics together.
Strategy is not only planning on what you are going to do, it’s also knowing what you are NOT going to do. In the hundreds of clients I and my colleagues have served, none of them have ever had the resources (time, staff, money, focus, etc.) to do everything. If the Fortune 500 must pick and choose what and how they go to market, entrepreneurs need to be even more thoughtful about it.
Here are seven things you should consider when creating your sales strategy:
For any sales strategy to be effective, it should be specific, measurable and have a deadline.
Once you understand your business’s unique building blocks, it’s time to create your strategic plan. There is no such thing as an off-the-shelf or one-size-fits-all plan. It needs to be customized to each specific business and its goals, target audience, company values and available resources.
If you are like most small to medium companies that don’t have a person dedicated to strategy, you may be thinking, “This is great, but how and where do I start?”
A classic place to start is in market data collection and review. Use this data to help you create your SWOT Analysis, a.k.a. the business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Then use the results of your SWOT analysis to help develop the goals for your business. Note: You should not be doing this alone or in a vacuum. You should be engaging others for diverse and outside perspectives (e.g., buyers, customers, people who decided not to buy from you, other departments within your business, etc.).
Take my company’s gourmet coffee client as an example. When we finished our market research, we had a good understanding of the current coffee market and where it was headed. We had a handle on our strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. In this case, the market basically breaks down into two main groups: coffee made at home or coffee made in a shop.
We chose to target the home coffee brewer, which then further segments into several subcategories.
Additionally, why we chose this market is just as important as how we chose the market. That decision came down to the fact that selling directly to the consumer to brew at home has better margins, it is easier to reach and has a much less complicated sale. The brew-it-for-me market requires working with restaurants and coffee shops and supplying them with coffee equipment and maintenance, all for a lower margin. Knowing what we didn’t want to do became just as important as where we actually wanted to focus.
No marketing tactic is effective without a sound strategy. Here are some final takeaways to consider when creating a plan:
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