Every successful brand has a well-defined marketing strategy. It’s often what determines whether a particular company will succeed or fail. And yet, many small and medium-size brands never take the time to create a succinct, actionable brand or positioning strategy. When companies struggle with sales and marketing, it can typically be traced back to a lack of agreement over what’s most important for potential customers.
Here are the basic steps to developing a successful brand strategy:
1) WHO IS THE HEART OF THE TARGET?
The more precise you can be about your target audience, the better your positioning will be. Too many brands still make the mistake of trying to be ‘all things to all people’. It may be counter-intuitive, but the narrower you can define the ideal customer, the stronger your brand platform will be. Being disciplined enough to state that ‘it’s this person, and not all these others’ forces you to streamline your sales message – and to get it right for those who matter most.
2) WHAT PROBLEM IS YOUR BRAND SOLVING FOR THEM?
The world doesn’t need another bottled water, smartphone or SEO management software product – unless it solves a problem that other brands have overlooked. The more important the problem is to your potential customer, the bigger the potential is for your brand.
3) HOW IS YOUR PRODUCT BETTER THAN THE ALTERNATIVES?
This is perhaps the most obvious when it comes to strategy – but that doesn’t make it any less important. It’s also the area where brands struggle the most because we live in an age of product parity. If there’s a major distinction in what you’re offering, consider yourself very lucky, and be sure to wrap your brand in the flag of that advantage – while it lasts. For those in very crowded categories with little differentiation it requires a significantly more sophisticated marketing approach. Hire experienced, creative marketing people to help you develop it. Speaking directly with your evangelists is also a great way to begin.
4) HOW CAN YOUR BRAND BE DIFFERENT?
In a prior post, I talked about how being different today is even more important than being better. While that may seem to defy logic, consider it this way: If you don’t get noticed, what difference does it make that your product is better? The primary competition right now is for attention – and that includes getting noticed by your target. Standing out in your category is the most important consideration. Keep that in mind when you develop your logo, your website, your copy and of course, everything that pertains to advertising and marketing.
5) HOW DO YOU WIN TODAY?
Competition is a battle. It requires constant monitoring and evaluation of the marketing efforts of your competitors. If you’re smart, you’ll also look outside your own product category and adopt the most effective techniques you find. Chances are, a one year old marketing plan is not going to be the right one for today. There’s simply too much rapid change happening. Is Graph Search on Facebook right for you? What about Twitter’s new ultra-short video format – Vine? Should you be using Google+ communities? The brands that incorporate the latest, most effective tactics into their marketing programs are going to leave the others in their dust. Don’t forget, these brands are trying to differentiate themselves, too. Be aggressively forward-thinking and put the ‘best of the new’ to work.