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How do you build an online marketing strategy? Where should you start? In this article I discuss the basic premises that underpin marketing and its implementation in the company in both its digital and traditional aspects.
When we first approach companies that have been on the market and in the area for many years, we are surprised by one thing:
"There is hardly any marketing system in Italian companies".
Despite the fact that they often have multi-million dollar turnovers and an established customer base, they have not been able to integrate over the years all the tools that modern (but also traditional) marketing provides to acquire new customers, find new business opportunities and not least correctly communicate its own positioning and uniqueness in the market.
Although for any start-up or new project that wants to enter the market, the creation of a business plan goes hand in hand with the creation of a strategic marketing plan (if you have no idea who your future customers and investors might be and you don't know how to communicate, you won't get far), if you have a solid business that has been active for years, it is likely that you have never needed marketing for one simple reason:
"You didn't need to find new customers, because customers either through fairs, events, yellow pages or word of mouth found you".
Now that the market is highly competitive and the customer has become more selective and attentive to the possible offers of products and services on the market, it is necessary, if not necessary, to
Thinking of a marketing strategy:
DEFENSIVE / CONSERVATIVE:
If you don't communicate well about your positioning and why customers should choose you over your competitors, you are automatically losing market share. The fact that your company is not actively communicating does not mean that customers (and competitors) are not talking about you and your products.
They may alter your reputation and damage it without your knowledge. Gradually taking away your customers without your knowledge. The least you can do is defend your image, your brand, the one that generates added value in the economic exchange: money x products or services.
And it is never "quality for the right price "A kind customer service" "A performing product" customers buy from you because they have a relationship with you and your company, if the relationship fails they will simply go and get the product elsewhere. That's why you have to protect your company on the defensive, make sure you can be found online, tracked on maps, check the reviews that anyone can leave about you without your knowledge. This also applies to your online initiatives, the image of your company must be in line with your brand and appealing.
Online perception is definitely amplified by the medium but so is the real experience customers have when interacting with you.
GENERATIVE / ACTIVE
Marketing is the link that connects the product to the market (with the sales network) so it can be used to better sell and present your products and services to more customers. This can be done through customer acquisition campaigns that can start online and go back to offline and vice versa.
Marketing, like sales, is built on the relationship with the customer/potential buyer, so it cannot just be digital and intangible. This is why great care is needed when designing a marketing strategy because it moves on many levels of your business.
This is by far the most difficult part because it forces you from the outset to make choices and automatically exclude others.
These choices will not be definitive in an absolute sense, but will need time to be tested and time to be changed without negative consequences for you and your brand.
Marketing: Basic requirements for an online/offline strategy
NOT marketing can be done without careful financial planning.
NOT marketing can be done if your company does not communicate properly or does not have an online presence.
NOT marketing can be done if once a contact has been generated there is no seller ready to do the negotiating and close it.
NOT Marketing can be done without a website and proprietary communication channels.
NOT you can do Marketing if: "you do not have" or "you are not a Brand".
We have to be objective and concrete and realise a great truth:
"Your brand does not exist only because you designed and built it".
Through our choices and our marketing strategy we will have to find a way, first of all, to creating a relationship with customers. Then to turn it into a sale, and to ensure customer loyalty so that they are happy to buy our products and always identify with our brand values.
In fact, when you enter the market, from the first moment you become visible, both online and offline, whether you already have an audience or you have to build it from scratch, people (i.e. your potential customers) will start to see what you do and get ideas about you and your brand and have expectations.
The aim of our marketing, communication and sales strategies will be to confirm these expectations so that everything looks coherent and creates the necessary confidence to enable the first purchases.
A marketing strategy must be coherent in terms of your brand identity, communication style and positioning as a reference article and price range on the market.
If you have a good understanding of how positioning works, and made products specifically designed for a specific target group of customers this process will be easier and the question to start with will be:
"What is the shortest way to reach with my products customers willing to buy them?"
While the message and tone of our brand must always be the same almost "monolithic'.In order to strengthen their positioning, especially at the beginning where they do not have a 'story' that speaks for us, we need to remain open-minded and possibilistic in the different ways of selling our creations in order to gradually become known and recognisable.
All the initiatives and tools we will use to promote and sell our products must be tested until the right balance is found. which will allow you to sponsor, sell, cash in and be able to reinvest for the next campaign or new product launch.
Our communication, even if we decide NOT to sell directly through an e-commerce and NOT to set aside a budget for advertising, will always be online.
Where the principle applies:
"if you don't exist online you simply don't exist".
For this we will have to decide which channels to use to communicate with our customers. The first and essential one will be our website, to which we can add one or more social or messaging systems. For this we will need to implement material to be used for all our marketing initiatives.
Marketing strategy: 6 points where to start
1. COLLECT DATA ON YOUR EXISTING CUSTOMERS:
Do I have a database with all my customers' data?
Can I contact them again to send new offers or news? How much is the value in one customer over several years?
How long does a customer stay with me or my company?
Which past customers are no longer buying
Can I reactivate them?
2. HOW DO I COMMUNICATE?
Are all my institutional communications in line with my company?
Do my printed materials/catalogues reflect the image of my company?
How do I communicate online?
Do I have active social channels?
Do I have a newsletter that I send out daily to my customers?
3. DO I OWN ONE OR MORE BRANDS?
Do customers buy my products indiscriminately because they are generic or have I developed one or more proprietary brands to identify and defend my company?
Do I have patents?
4. IF THERE WAS A CONSTANT FLOW OF NEW POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS, WOULD I KNOW HOW TO HANDLE IT?
Marketing can give you a flow of new potential customers/distributing agents but you need one or more sales people to contact them back and close the deal or follow them over time until they are ready to buy.
5. WHO DOES NOT KNOW ME BUT IS LOOKING FOR MY PRODUCT SERVICE ON THE INTERNET WILL FIND ME AS THEIR FIRST CHOICE?
Why do customers come to me and my company?
The last time a customer spontaneously came to buy, why did he do so?
How did you find us?
6. I HAVE A MODERN AND FUNCTIONAL WEBSITE?
The website is crucial because online perception is maximised, whatever you communicate is emphasised.
Does your current website reflect the image of your company?
Is it constantly updated?
Do you have professional images that differentiate you?
Does it have functioning contact forms to get in touch with you?
What action should a person take on it?
By answering these questions you will find some useful hints to start thinking about which aspects you need to fix as soon as possible in order to structure a marketing strategy in synergy with all parts of your company.
These are some of the questions with which we start a coaching process with our customers.
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