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The Ultimate Guide To Create an Effective Marketing Strategy

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For a business to succeed, it must have a well-defined marketing strategy. This ultimate guide will lead you step by step in creating an effective marketing strategy. 

According to Content Marketing Institute, documenting business strategies gives you a 538 percent higher chance of successfully executing business goals. 

Let’s get started by reviewing what a marketing strategy is and why it is a must-have.

Table of Contents
What is a marketing strategy?
Why is marketing strategy important for businesses?
5 steps to create an effective marketing strategy for Alibaba.com customers

What is a marketing strategy? 

A large number of advertisements posted in "Time Square"

Marketing strategy is a business plan for reaching and connecting with prospective customers and converting them into your product buyers to drive profitability. 

Marketing strategy specifies how a product or service will attain and sustain a competitive edge in a certain market over time. Establishing this up front aligns the business around how you’ll reach out to your target audience, explain the benefits of what you’re offering, and persuade them to become buyers.

Why is marketing strategy important for businesses?

There are quite a few benefits of having a marketing strategy. 

It helps businesses to understand the market for products and speak to desired customers to improve the chances of selling to them.

An effective marketing strategy helps to avoid spending marketing budget in the wrong places and making the best use of resources and also helps to set up the right objectives with associated ROI metrics and measure against them. It keeps a business activity consistent and focused. 

Without a marketing strategy, you will face the consequences of missing out customers, losing profitability, losing market to competitors, etc. 

5 steps to create an effective marketing strategy for Alibaba.com customers

Step 1: Identify value propositions

A person holding a laptop with screen showing "Value Proposition"

A value proposition consists in explaining why a customer should select your product or service over others. It highlights the most obvious benefit that customers gain by doing business with you. Every value proposition should address a customer’s problem and position your business as the solution provider.

3 key elements in defining a value proposition for your business: 

  • Customer profile: What do your customers want? What gain can your product bring to customers? 
  • Product features: What are your product features to make customers happy? The design, the material, the pain point solutions?
  • Fulfillment of customer needs or expectations: Prioritize features and benefits that can address customer expectations and choose the high-priority ones in describing the value proposition. 

Step 2: Set marketing objectives

two women are working on boxing products that are ready to be shipped to customers. One is recording shipping to the computer and the other woman is taking photo of the shipping slip.

Marketing objectives provide key metrics for what success looks like. According to Coschedule.com research, goal-setters are 377% more successful than peers. There are two categories of marketing objectives:

Brand awareness: 

  • Development of brand loyalty: Developing deeper relationships in driving repeat customers
  • Growth of digital footprints: Using optimized search engine optimization (SEO) to grow visibility on social media
  • Lead generation: Focusing on customer relationships through in-depth communications

Grow sales:

  • Promotion of new products
  • Seasonal promotion to drive high transactions
  • Promotion to bring in customers, especially from your competitors

The most common tool used in setting marketing objectives is SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely). SMART ensures that your marketing goals are set with specific metrics you and your team can easily understand and follow. With the SMART tool, instead of relying on your instinct, you now have concrete indicators to measure the success of your marketing approach against business objectives. 

Step 3: Determine and understand customers and target markets

A woman is smiling while checking her phone. Customer feedback graphics on the side to imply that woman is checking customer feedbacks.

The first question to the target markets imposed is: who and where they are. In order to answer this question, ask the following ones:

  • What industry are you in?
  • What is the demographic of your target? This can include gender, age, geographic location, education, etc.
  • What is the market segment you are competing in? 
  • Where is the biggest profit in this market segment?

In order to answer these questions, there are a number of steps businesses can take. 

  • Survey existing customers directly 
  • Study your competitors and their customers 
  • Engage your audience on social media
  • Collect data on your existing product sales

Step 4: Analyze the market size and competitors

People standing on the bars with one bar specifically further out than the others to imply the strength in fierce competitions.

Understanding the market size you are targeting tells you how much potential business is really out there and the value you can bring back to your business.

One simple approach is to purchase the research that is done by a third party through a collection of key market players and has high accuracy. If this is not an option, use the below steps to arrive at your own assessment:

  • Estimate the number of customers. Know who your customers are and the size. 
  • Know the average spend to understand the dollar value of market size.
  • Determine the penetration rate. 

Market Value = Total customer number X Average customer spend X Penetration rate

In determining penetration rates, one of the key factors is to know your competitor and competitive advantage. 

Knowing their strengths and weaknesses is critical to long-term success. A few tips on competitor research:

  • Competitor website: It gives you a feel about what user experiences could be like for customers. Is it easy to use? Does it have features that are attractive to them?
  • SEO: Examine on-page keyword techniques as well as the inbound links to know their SEO strategy.
  • Reviews: Check how customers are reviewing their products. 
  • Social media: Discover how frequently customers interact with their material.

Once you have a better understanding of your competitors, build one or more of the competitive advantages listed below to win over your customers.

  • Cost leadership: Provide a similar value as the competition does, but at a lower price to customers. This advantage requires your business to continue to improve operational efficiency. 
  • Differentiation: Differentiate products from competitors that provide particular value no one else provides. This allows your company to charge the premium pricing to customers who value the differentiated features. Differentiation tells customers what you can offer differently in product features in comparison to competitors’ products.
  • Innovation: Create a winning product that is in a very profitable market segment to address the particular needs of customers no one has been able to meet. Innovation tells your customer what they should need, sometimes before they even realize such concepts. The innovation of iPhone is a great example. iPhone was launched to the market to tell customers “here is what a phone should be like, from user experience to functionality.” 

Step 5: Define marketing methods

A woman sitting in front of her laptop while checking her phone to see the likes and comments for her social media account.

Use the marketing methods tailored to marketing objectives and audience for the highest return. Build high-quality content in each marketing method that stresses educating over selling. This focuses on creating information relevant to prospects’ needs in order to attract those who are most likely to buy your product. Content marketing is to create messages that allow customers to trust (i.e. show off your factory pictures) and convert to purchase by providing rich content on the quality and use of the products. 

  • Social media marketing: Provide people with valuable material that they want to share across their social networks, resulting in increased impressions. 
  • Organic coverage is typically required in building strong connections with customers. It delivers a trustworthy rhythm through sharing valuable content that can be inspirational, educational, or entertaining. There is a particular appeal in organic social posting that sponsored posting does not deliver. 
  • Sponsored coverage can be easier, but costly for the business to reach its customer base. The advantage lies in the ability to target location, gender, age, and other demographics with specifically crafted content. 
  • Blogs: Posting informative and value-added blogs on your website and on publishing platforms is to gain authority in the target markets.
  • Email marketing: This is a computer-assisted procedure that targets individual prospects and consumers in order to influence their purchasing decisions. 

Start creating your marketing strategy today

Following the strategy process listed in this post, doing research, and gathering customer feedback will help fine-tune your strategy over time to ensure you’re spending your resources on the marketing channels that matter most to your target audience. Remember that developing a comprehensive marketing strategy is not something that can be accomplished in a short period of time. It takes time, effort, and attention to ensure you’re reaching your ideal audience, whenever and wherever they want to be reached.

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