Marketing Strategy: Formulating a Strategy
Hello again! It’s George here from Childcare Marketing to continue where I left off with my previous blog on Marketing Strategy. If you haven’t already read the previous blog on the situational analysis stage, then I would highly recommend that you did. At the end of the last blog, I briefly mentioned that you should write objectives once you had finished writing your problems and opportunities statement. Your marketing objectives will be based on the problems and/or opportunities that you have identified. For example, if you have identified that competitors have a successful LinkedIn account that produces leads then one objective may be to exploit that opportunity and set up a LinkedIn account with regular posting. It’s a good idea to create 3-5 objectives so you have enough to achieve substantial changes in your marketing success but not too many as this could take focus off the most important factors. Objectives that are set should be SMART, meaning they should be:
Specific- To what you want to achieve.
Measurable- So you can work out your progress towards achieving the objective.
Agreed– By all members of your team so you’re all working towards the same thing.
Realistic– So time isn’t wasted working towards unattainable objectives.
Time-bound– To help track and monitor your progress towards achieving the objective.
Once your SMART objectives have been set it’s time to formulate a strategy to achieve these objectives. Strategies can be either defensive or attacking and most companies will combine a mixture of both to achieve their objectives. One type of attacking strategies are ‘build strategies’ which seek to improve organisational performance through expansion of activities. It’s best to engage in these when it doesn’t necessarily provoke strong competitive retaliation. Some examples include:
- Frontal attack– Requires substantial advantage in at least one of the 4 marketing p’s (Price, product, place, or promotion), superior resources and ability to sustain prolonged attrition. If you don’t have the necessary facilities, then you will end up even worse out in the long term.
- Bypass strategy– Rely on technical innovation and diversification. Avoid competing where the competition is strong. Go around to new positions. For example, a company may go overseas to exploit a new market that has no market leader and then return with the ability to use frontal attack on the market leaders in their original country.
One type of defensive strategy is ‘hold strategies’ which involve market maintenance for firms that are already in strong positions in their markets. Some examples are:
- Position defence– Set up or tighten barriers around the company and its offerings to shut out the competition. For example, developing new products to reduce the threat of up and coming companies.
- Flanking defence– Strengthen internal weaknesses that are likely to be attacked by your competitors (protect against frontal attack).
Two additional strategies that are widely used are harvesting strategy and divestment strategy. Harvesting strategy involves pursuing maximum returns from the product before its eventual withdrawal from the market. It involves reducing marketing spending but increasing price and profit margin. It is also known as ‘milking strategy’. The other strategy is known as divestment strategy which involves removing product lines and segments that are either unprofitable or diluting the brand equity. By doing this you move to a more defensible position.
Above we’ve spoken about a variety of different strategies you can apply that may help you achieve your marketing objectives. Now, let’s think about specific tactics you may use to achieve these marketing objectives. In other words, how do we implement the strategy that we’ve devised? What actions do we need to take to achieve our objectives? For example, if your objective is to improve your market share by 5% through your marketing there will be a number of ways to achieve this. Some ways this could be achieved include free social media exposure, search engine optimisation, paid advertising, direct marketing and/or public relations work. The correct tactics to apply may depend on the situational analysis you have previously carried out as it might have exposed specific tactics as being key opportunities in your sector.
The second to last step involves looking at exactly how your specific tactics that you’ve chosen will be carried out. For example, if you choose to create a LinkedIn account to exploit an opportunity then who will be responsible for this, when will this be done, what resources will you dedicate to this task and finally, how can we monitor the success of this task. This step is important as it delves into the details of the strategy and turns the strategy from an idea into a reality. The final stage of the marketing strategy involves monitoring your progress towards achieving your objectives. This involves continuously monitoring key performance indicators for each tactic that you employ. For example, if the tactic chosen to achieve your objective is to create a LinkedIn account, then the performance indicator that will be continuously monitored may be the engagement levels on the page (Likes, comments, shares, and followers). By monitoring the success of each specific tactic, it will give a view of the success of the strategy as a whole.
Once you have formulated a marketing strategy in detail then the results will be considerable compared to blindly following a course of action as you feel It’s the right thing to do. Knowing your reasoning for your actions will provide motivation for pursing them and give a great sense of satisfaction once your strategy works out to plan. Although the process may seem daunting and time consuming, the return on the time investment will be massive as your efficiency as a business will improve extensively. Don’t be one of the vast majority of business’ that have no marketing strategy in place; be formulated, calculated and purposeful in your marketing efforts.
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At the recent Childcare and Education Expo event, we also interviewed Ben Rolfe, Founder of Childcare Marketing. Ben provides top tips on what nursery practitioners can do to keep communication with existing and prospective parents flowing and explains why creating a ‘brand’ is important for a setting that wants to attract new parents and recruit new staff. Head here to watch the interview: https://connectchildcare.com/blog/ask-the-expert-episode-1-ben-rolfe/