A Quick Review
Strategic marketing answers a set of basic questions about your company:
- Who am I selling to? [Target market]
- What exactly am I selling to them? [Product]
- How much am I selling it for? [Price]
- How do I communicate what I’m selling to my target market in the most compelling way? [Positioning]
The answers to these questions come best after some research and deep thought about your industry, your competition and your personal strengths and weaknesses.
Do it right and you’ll be selling the right product to the right people for the right price with a message that sings to your target market. Do it wrong and you’ll be selling the wrong product to the wrong people for the wrong price with a message that falls flat. In other words, you’ll be spinning your wheels
This article is addresses the first step in the process: Really knowing the “lay of the land” in your industry.
Why Knowing the Lay of the Land Matters
Everybody knows that technology is advancing at an ever-increasing speed. Most business owners know that, if you don’t pay attention to the latest IT innovations, you can be left behind in your industry. In addition, new tech can provide new opportunities for finding customers and creating new value for your customers.
I’m constantly consciously doing things to monitor the pulse of technology – wandering through Best Buy, subscribing to and skimming multiple tech magazines, downloading the latest tech to check it out, scheduling time with my “deep geek” friends, etc. By doing this, I consistently find ways to improve the way I do business. Yes, you can be distracted by chasing the latest shiny toy, but I find that the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.
As important as keeping up with the latest tech innovation, it is even more crucial to know the latest happenings in your specific industry. By doing this, you can receive a steady flow of ideas and “best practices” from business owners doing exactly what you do.
Building Your “Best-of” News Clipping Library
If you haven’t already done the exercise described below, you might be shocked at how much quality information about your industry exists out there … most of it available for free. Some of this information can be absolutely invaluable in running your business.
Here is the exercise. Do a Google and Bing search for each of the following, using various combinations of keywords. Be sure to dig into the second, third and fourth, etc., pages of your search results.
- Industry magazines, online and paper
- Industry blogs
- Online forums (these can be the biggest treasure troves of all)
- Professional and trade organizations
- Look on these for whitepapers, articles, etc.
- Statistical studies about your industry
Skim through what you find. You’ll often find that the resources refer to still other resources. Bookmark what you find most useful. Subscribe to blogs and newsletters. Download (even print?) key whitepapers, articles and reports.
How to Make the Most of It
After you do this, create a standing appointment for reviewing these resources for the latest news about your business. This will always ensure that you know the latest and greatest. In fact, you’ll find that, if you do this, you will be almost alone in knowing what is cutting edge.
I personally like to take quick notes, or copy and paste excerpts, from what I read. That was I have an ongoing document with the latest, coolest, most important stuff.
Here are the types of things I look for:
- New laws that affect my business
- Owners of similar businesses who are willing to collaborate and share ideas (online forums are great for this)
- Names of competitors, including types of competitors I may not have even known existed
- Names of complementary companies that target the same target market as me
- Industry events I might like to attend
- New products and services
- New ways of applying technology to my business
- Methods and locations for advertising
- And much, much more
When you do this thoroughly and consistently, you’ll find that you are able to make better strategic marketing decisions. You will know, in your blood, what your market is doing, cares about, offers, wants, etc.
When you then add the next few steps to this, you will truly be a strategic marketing expert so that you will be selling precisely what your market wants, at the price it wants to pay, with the message that sings to them.
What Do You Think?
What are the best resources you’ve found for understanding your industry?
What are the ways you’ve used that information to help your business?
Next up? Learning from Your Competition.