October 8, 2009

Small Business Marketing Strategy


Hostway Team

By Winmark Business Solutions

Every business owner should develop a written guideline that sets forth the business's marketing strategy. This document is used to judge the appropriateness of each action that the business takes. If a company has to take an action that is off-strategy, it may indicate a temporary emergency action prompted by competition or other factors beyond normal management control. Or it may indicate the need to change or revise the company's marketing strategy.

A good marketing strategy provides specific goals and can include:

  • a description of the key target buyer/end user
  • competitive market segments the company will compete in distribution channels
  • the unique positioning of the company and its products versus the competition
  • the reasons why it is unique or compelling to buyers
  • price strategy versus competition
  • marketing spending strategy with advertising and promotion
  • possible research and development
  • market research expenditure strategies.

An overall company marketing strategy should also:

  • define the business
  • position the business as a leader, challenger, follower or niche player in the category
  • define the brand or business personality or image that is desired in the minds of buyers and end users
  • define life cycle influences, if applicable

Use the following checklist to help create your own marketing strategy.

Marketing strategy checklist

  • define what your company is
  • identify the products or services that your company provides
  • identify your target buyers/end users
  • establish the marketing category (e.g., fast food purveyor, high-end audio equipment sales, etc.)
  • determine whether your company will be a market category leader, follower, challenger or niche player
  • describe the unique characteristics of your products or services that distinguish them from the competition
  • define whether your pricing will be above, below, or at parity with your competitors and establish whether you will lead, follow or ignore changes in competitors' pricing
  • identify the distribution channels through which your products/services will be made available to the target market/end users
  • describe how advertising and promotions will convey the unique characteristics of your products or services
  • describe any research and development activities or market research plans that are unique to your business
  • describe the image or personality of your company and its products or services

Strategy statement tests. If the statements in your strategy are measurable and actionable and work to differentiate your company and products apart from the competition, congratulations! If they are not measurable and actionable and do not differentiate your company from the competition, revise them until they are.

A good working marketing strategy should not be changed every year. It should not be revised until company objectives (financial, marketing and overall company goals) have been achieved or the competitive situation has changed significantly, e.g., a new competitor comes into the category or significantly different or new products emerge from existing competitors.

About the Author

Winmark Business Solutions (WBS) is a free Web site for small businesses and entrepreneurs containing over 6,000 pages of business-critical information and downloadable tools at www.WBSonline.com. WBS is a division of Winmark Corporation, a multi-brand franchisor with nearly 900 franchise locations in North America. With over 25 years working with small businesses, WBS draws upon years of experience to bring important small business articles, information, tools, forms, checklists, calculators and downloadable forms to the small business owner to help their business grow. WBS contains over 6000 pages of business-critical information all available at www.WBSonline.com.

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