Ten Top Tips: Achieve a winning marketing strategy

To be an effective marketer, you just need to get these ten basic rules down pat, says Malcolm McDonald, professor of marketing at Cranfield university.

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Last Updated: 17 Jun 2013

Ensure that marketing is the driver of strategy in the boardroom

Most people think marketing is just promotion or sales. But everything an organisation does from R&D through to after-sales service is 'marketing' in some form or other, whether it's about which products will appeal most to the end consumer, or how your company's value propositions are projected to the customer. Make sure that these are the drivers of strategy at the top-level of the business.

Understand your market, how it works and its key decision-makers

Define your market in terms of needs, not products. Map how it works from end to end, showing quantitatively product/service flows and how you are responding to demand. Identify who the decision-makers are. Understand how - and if - these decision-makers are changing (with the rise of crowd-sourcing, for example).

Marketing doesn't mean 'money off'

You don't have to discount your products in order to generate a successful marketing campaign. Needs have always determined the customer’s choice of what to buy at a price they deem as representing superior value for money, which is rarely the cheapest.

Focus your market strategy on your future profitability

Not all segments offer the same opportunity for growing your profits, so list them from lowest to highest in terms of their size, potential margin and potential growth. Focus on the fattest slices.

How are you doing against your rivals?

For each segment, work out quantitatively how well your company satisfies their needs compared with your major competitors. List your relative competitiveness in each segment from lowest to highest.

Set realistic objectives and strategies

Set clear priorities and stick to them. In segments where you have strengths but where there is little growth, manage for sustained earnings. Where you have strengths AND where there is growth, manage for growth in revenue and profits. Where there is growth but where you have few strengths, invest in the most promising, but DO NOT try to maximise your profits here. Where you have few strengths in low growth segments, reduce costs and maximise net free cash flow.

Calculate whether your strategies will create shareholder value

Calculate risk-adjusted net free cash flows from each segment. Allocate the relative capital employed in each segment multiplied by the cost of capital. An overall surplus means the plan is creating shareholder value.

Get board-level support

It is operational management who deliver the value propositions, so win their support and get their agreement to your strategy. Obtain senior management sign off and keep them engaged.

Regularly review your marketing strategy

Measure, if you can, the impact on sales of your marketing expenditure. Try and work out the effect of individual campaigns - there are plenty of tools out there to help you do this. Measure and report these to the board and tweak your strategies appropriately.

Ensure professional and ethical marketing

Be ethical at all times and consider the impact of your actions on all stakeholders


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