So you and your company have been operating for a few months or years and it seems that sales have plateaued a little. We all know that when sales hit a plateau its best to get to work, developing new ideas and plans to try and stimulate sales again, in a word, a strategy. Now every company, big and small, must properly develop a marketing strategy (or strategies) in order to be successful. But there are a few items that I have noticed over the past few years that even multi-billion dollar a year companies have began to neglect within their strategy and it is can definitely be cause for concern.

So with that in mind, I decided that this “Getting Graphic” entry would shine light on these things and maybe help you in developing your marketing strategy in the future. So here it is, 3 things not to forget when building your marketing strategy in 2018.

1. DO NOT Forget about your existing customers

The one thing that has really caught my attention recently is how hard companies market to attract new customers – and sometimes it is done without thinking about existing customers. Now this isn’t a new phenomenon, but it is something that really got me thinking. I have had two experience with this year and both were quite alarming. I should start by saying that I applaud the efforts of these companies, attracting new customers is a vital part of business – I just want to examine the “other side” with these examples.

The first situation was an effort to attract new members to the golf course that I play at. The plan offered an introductory rate to anyone who had never been, or had not been a member for at least 5 year. In theory, it seems like a great idea and from what I hear it was quite successful in attracting almost 50 new members this season. However, the introductory rate was less than what the shareholder rate was and this rubbed some people the wrong way. There wasn’t enough discussion in the plan about their current members and how this strategy would be perceived by them. It actually ended up in some existing members to not renew their memberships.

Thing to Think About: How will your NEW marketing strategy affect your current customer base?

Secondly, I was scouring the webpage of a certain cable/internet provider and noticed how many deals were available. Now as a 10+ year customer of theirs I was curious as to why I was paying more than new or potential customers would be. Being quite confused, I called the company and asked why that was. They of course offered me a better equipment at a better rate – but I was still perplexed as to why I had to call the company to get that deal. There was no marketing plan in place to communicate that loyal customers could receive a better deal or upgraded equipment. It was up to the customer to contact the company and “raise a stink” in order to determine if any upgrades were available.

Things to Think About: Marketing Strategies must include both Acquisition of New and Retention of Old Customers – and be researched and communicated equally.

2. DO NOT forget about physical location

In recent years, the emergence of e-commerce has become a focal point for a majority of businesses – heck, for some its their sole avenue to sell their products – and if that is you then you can skip this part. This is targeted towards businesses that have both an online and physical storefront. It actually would make the most sense to have two marketing strategies: one for your physical location and one for your online (or e-commerce) store. Make sure you research both demographics together and separately. Look for similarities and differences between the two. This will allow you to optimize both locations and maybe even do so cross-marketing campaigns. Despite having multiple or separate marketing campaigns you will want to ensure there is continuity between the two as well – as to not confuse those customers who visit both locations.

Do not, however, spend all your time and resources maximizing your e-commerce site. Pay attention to your storefront. Ask yourself:

  1. Are the customers finding what they need?
  2. Is there sufficient information provided at point-of-sale?
  3. What do people like about our store front? What don’t they like?
  4. Is it visually attractive and is it communicating the right message (my brand)?
  5. How can I make it easier for people to buy once they are here?

Funny, when you look at it – they are the same questions that you would ask when optimizing a website for e-commerce. In today’s society people do not have the desire or time to spend countless hours in a store looking for something to buy. So know your target market, know what motivates them and make sure you develop a marketing strategy, that at the very least, includes your physical store location (if you have one).

3. DO NOT forget the things that made you successful in the first place

When sales begin to plateau or even decline, managers and owners are quick to change everything in a panic focused drive to correct the problem. That is not the reaction you need to take. If you have built your business properly you have plenty of time to examine your business, your industry and your customers so that you can formulate an informed marketing strategy to regain or stimulate that business.

A complete overhaul of your business is rarely the answer. There are many reasons that you have been a successful business in the past. DO NOT get into the habit of changing everything just for the sake of changing it. The simplest way in determining what adjustments to your marketing strategy should be made are by examining three key areas:

  1. Your Industry – look at market reports, look at competitors. There will be plenty of information out there that could suggest potential changes to the forecast of the industry you are in. For example, in 2016, Alberta Golf released an article that stated there was as drastic decline in the number of rounds played, especially in Central Alberta. So this means that golf course had to examine their marketing strategy to either try and continue to capture a dwindling market – or find new forms of income. The key was is that the information was available to them.
  2. Your Business/Brand – look at your business, talk candidly with your customer, send out anonymous surveys. Do whatever you can to try and get a real idea of how your customer view your business and your brand. Then take the information from your customers and compare it to what you have envisioned as your business and brand. You will get great insight into the things that you do well from your customer – and those are the areas that you need to keep the same or make only slight adjustments to.
  3. Your Customers – You will already have a good understanding of who your customers are…I mean you have been in business for sometime. So your goal here is to figure out what you were doing that had your customers responding to your business. When developing a new marketing strategy you can keep those items that lead to the success in the past – barring no major shifts in your customers or their habits.

All-in-All marketing strategies need to encompass a bunch of different aspects in order to be considered successful. There are many areas to examine and plan for. The point of this article was just display some of the awkward trends that I have seen over the recent years, to maybe help you be aware of them when creating your marketing plan.