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 Marketing Articles   Marketing Strategy Articles    Part 2: Marketing Strategy-what are the basics? 

Part 2: Marketing Strategy - what are the basics ?

By Anne-Marie Watson
Published August 25, 2009

As per our previous article, there are five steps to basic marketing strategy.

In the last article (Part 1) we covered:

  • Step 1: Market Segmentation
  • Step 2: Segment Targeting

Now we examine the last three steps i.e. your USP, Brand Positioning and Supporting Benefits.

Step 3 – Unique Selling Proposition

A Unique Selling Proposition (USP), is what makes you different from others in the market also known as your business's point of difference. It is also what gives you your competitive edge, and should ideally be something that competitors don't have and can't copy easily.

A USP is developed by looking at what customers needs are in the market you are selling to, whether it's price, delivery time, quality of service etc. Then you need to review how well these needs are met currently by competitors. By reviewing the match up between customer needs and competitor delivery against those needs, you will hopefully find a gap your business can fill or a way you can provide delivery of the need, beyond your competitor. Whatever USP you choose, make sure you can deliver it. Otherwise you will lose all credibility with your customer and destroy your own business name and brand.

Once you have a real competitive USP, then you can move on to developing your positioning. Your USP needs to then be turned into a key benefit for the customer.

Step 4 –Brand Positioning

Positioning is one of the most missed out, misunderstood or poorly developed parts of marketing strategy in small business. A positioning statement is a way of encapsulating in words, how your business (brand) aspires to, through the key benefit it provides, solve your target customer's problem or fulfills their needs (from the customer's perspective).

Many times I see key benefit statements that try to pass as positioning statements, which just doesn't work when it comes to saying something that is meaningful. Just because something is a benefit, doesn't mean your customer is going to buy from you.

A positioning statement positions your key benefit (gleaned from your USP) against the customer need for a particular customer (your target customer);it's quite specific. It certainly isn't just a bunch of nice things your business does, which regardless of customer priorities, will sell your brand!! It's very important to understand the difference, as it can affect how well you do with your business at a core level.

The actual statement includes:

  • Who your business or brand is
  • What market you compete in
  • Who your target customer is
  • What the functional key benefit is your business delivers
  • What the emotional benefit is your business delivers

Once this positioning statement is refined it, should be the basis for every communication that you then send to your customers. It will be better though, to include also, reasons for the customers to believe your key benefit claim, and that's where supporting benefits are helpful.

Step 5 –Supporting Benefits (Reasons-to-Believe)

Supporting benefits add strength to the positioning statement above by telling your customer why the key benefit you deliver in the positioning statement is true and usually substantiates the key benefit by providing:

  • Technical benefits or reasons and/or
  • Functional reasons and/or
  • Emotional reasons

to believe the key benefit. The best positioning and supporting benefits address all three: technical, functional and emotional. The whole rationale for using these supporting benefits is to give a customer a feeling of comfort that the business will deliver its key benefit as promised (the brand promise).

Other Important things to remember

You may well find that you identify more than one group of customers in your market targeting review, and this is very common. In fact, it is probably very useful to have a few groups of customers, for the sake of maximizing volume. However, the idea of targeting is not to have everyone included, so do not be tempted to expand your target list too far.

Additionally you may also compete in more than one segment or market. This will also diversify your selling efforts but again be warned – too much diversity equals dilution of your resources. A good approach is to prioritize each market segment and the customer targets within.

Naturally, it will make more sense to spend more resources such as time, promotional activities and money, on the customer segments with the highest potential return and probability of success. This is where your positioning will be critical to getting the best result.

If you can effectively implement these steps, you will have a solid base for your strategy and for building an effective communication platform for your target customers.

© Copyright 2009 – Anne-Marie Watson – Southside Marketing Solutions


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