Entrepreneurs talk of marketing strategies all the time. But when it gets down to the real business of doing, everything suddenly gets forgotten. A good majority can’t even define the word accurately, with most of them often mis-classifying it as a specific objective or goal.
The truth is, the word strategy is a broad term that could take you to greater heights of sustainable success with proper execution — NOT only in digital marketing but in all walks of time — if you can afford to create time and reflect on it.
So to define, strategy is a plan of action or what you’re supposed to do as a marketer and business person to achieve a type of success that hinges towards a given goal or objective. It’s the fleshing up of what exactly you should be doing to achieve a particular feat.
Sustainable marketing, on the other hand, is a long term plan meant to prevail in its current state or grow exponentially over time. That explains why it’s crucial to be strategical right from the onset of any marketing plan just to make sure the success you’re soon to realise as a marketer won’t tank-down or be a one-time thing.
How to Build a Sustainable Marketing Strategy
By sustainable, what’s meant is that you have to factor in all the implications the environment, economy, society, and your competition are likely to have on your overall marketing strategy so you can take necessary measures to circumvent them. The whole point is to have your eyes glued to the future.
So while working on realising tangible marketing results at the moment, you want the results to still show several years to come. You want the results to be permanent, instead of doing everything on a humble without minding much about what the future holds.
This calls for an urgent need to respond to 4 crucial questions that might help you shape up your marketing strategy and give it more shelf life, if NOT permanency.
Question 1: What’s Your Action Plan?
You have to begin by asking yourself what’s your action plan. What is it do you plan to achieve at the end, and how do you plan to get there? Or what’s the sequential flow of the activities that will get you there?
The answers you come up with for this kind of question should be broad, but detailed enough to cover everything necessary. Start by painting the big picture of what ought to be done and narrow down to specifics.
In other words, you should point out what you’re supposed to do on a daily routine, together with how they play into the bigger picture.
And while at it, it’s crucial to ensure your plan is realistic enough. For instance, if you hope to grow your visitors to say 300, 000 visitors after a month, you should be sure of coming up with a plan that will be getting you about 10, 000 visits per day. Otherwise, the strategy you have won’t be realistic enough to be considered achievable.
Question 2: Why do you Intent to do this?
Now that you have figured out your action plan, you need the motivation to keep you on the action track. And that’s exactly where this question comes in.
Now, based on what you plan to do or wish to accomplish at the end of it all, what’s your best course of action?
You have to factor in the opportunity cost while responding to the question. At the same time, be detailed enough to explain the benefits of every highlighted course of action. Find out how this particular action is likely to affect your firm, your customers, and the environment.
This is important as there’ll come a time when what’s right for your business may NOT be exactly be what’s suitable for your customers. Nothing should be left to chance.
Where you suspect a particular course of action has detrimental effects on your customers, society, or the long term viability of your business, look into the alternatives and weigh in on the implications to find out which one among them is more beneficial and sustainable.
Question 3: How do You Plan to Win?
Now that you know what you should be doing and the reason for doing it, how do you plan to stand out from the crowd? There’s a fair chance your competitors are doing almost the same thing. If NOT, it’s just a matter of time before they find out what you’re doing and follow suit.
At this point, you want to make sure that you’ll always be ahead of the curve, and all they’ll be doing is playing catch up.
So how do you plan to win? Should everything fail to work according to plan, how are you going to fix it and get it back on track again?
Simple, you can start by measuring the results of your course of actions. You have a strategy, but how sure are you that it’s working?
You measure the progress every step of the way and make necessary adjustments where possible.
Start by figuring out the projected outcome and break it into daily accomplishments and feats. Where a particular course of action doesn’t hinge you closer to a particular feat, revisit your strategy and make necessary improvements.
What metrics will you be using to track your progress? And how long do you intend to keep on measuring your plan?
Of course, there’ll come a time when following a particular course of action guarantees specific outcomes. But even with this, you’d still want to find out how to best improve them for even better results.
Question 4: How do You Plan to Sustain the Win?
You want to stay ahead of your competition, always. You want to be sure that your plan will still pay off several years to come. How do you intend to keep it that way?
Well, this is where you weigh on all the possibilities and curve out the best strategy there’s.
Your strategy is only useful if it guarantees a sustainable outcome. It’s possible to realise quick wins and be convinced that that will always be the flow of things.
But you could be wrong. Are the results you’re getting long term?
What are some of the risks involved? What if your competition catches up with you? Or what if something changes or a whirlwind suddenly came? What’s your fall-to plan and how do you plan to recover from loss suffered and keep everything moving again? Simple, measure your potential risks.
Measuring your Risks
The last question of the four is the hardest to execute. That’s because it’s filled with uncertainties.
You can only know about the projected achievements, but you can’t tell what lies ahead in the journey that you’re about to embark on. You don’t know if there’s a storm coming. Neither can you predict the possible political climate in the future.
But you can create room for the worst case scenarios. Or better, start measuring the risks you encounter and create room for them. First, you can start by identifying the macro risks of the strategy you’re employing. Figure out how the risks are likely to affect your sustainability and competitive edge.
It’s here that the acronym PESTLE comes in handy. It’s what you need to outline potential risks and scalable shifts in society and figure out how to best hold your ground and maintain your wins.
Find out how political risks are likely to affect your business. Could the next political wind in the country affect your business? Should the Singapore government make certain changes, will your business be affected.
If so, what are the risks involved, and how can they be avoided?
These are the risks associated with market changes, particularly stocks, foreign exchange, and treasuries. Other possible risks that still fall within the same line are inflations, unemployment, and recessions.
Could any of these changes affect the plan you have?
These are the risks chained to the society you operate in. It could be anything , like a sudden shift in consumer behaviour, or a mass adoption of a new habit. Should there be a change in consumers’ demand elasticity, how will your marketing strategy be affected?
Technological risks are critical in online marketing. Should there be a shift in the current technology, would your strategy be rendered ineffective?
You have to begin by finding out how dependent your marketing strategy is on the current technology. Now, should there be a shift and new technologies take over, how long will your business take to adapt?
Should there be legal modifications of any kind, would your business be affected? This includes shifts in government laws, legislation, and compliance. How are they likely to affect your business or overall marketing strategy?
Would they be the end of you? If so, what’s your counter strategy or fall-to plan?
Environmental risks, as the name suggests, relate to the environment. For all we know, your business must be more focused on creating a sustainable living environment for all.
So should there be a shift in environmental requirements, or should there be a sustainable corporate movement of any kind, will your business operations be affected?
Measuring Your Competition Risks
It’s a zero-sum game with your competitors. You win when they lose and lose when they win. So you have to make sure it’s an all win for you, all the time.
After taking a microscopic view into the macro risks, you’re exposed to as a business; by now, you should have conjured up a solid plan on how to counter the risks and remain afloat.
What’s left is the most possible of all the risks you’re exposed to — and that’s competition, almost inevitable.
To keep your business safe at all time, you have to begin by taking an aerial view of the competition you have. Look at them with holistic lenses from every possible angle and explore the risks they pose to your marketing strategy.
If it’s SEO, it’s possible they’re involved with the same on their end. So how do you plan to outrank them for good?
That said, this how you explain the risks your competitors pose to your overall marketing strategy and figure out how to best beat them:
I. Buyers’ Bargaining Power
You’d be surprised by the amount of negotiating power our customers have on you. You might want to find out if it’s the same case with your competitors. If so, how flexible are they? Can this have any effect on your marketing strategy in the long run?
Is the market getting swamped with new competitors, some of which are willing to low ball for a bite of your customer base?
II. Suppliers’ Bargaining Power
The next thing you want to find out is how much negotiating power your consumers have on you. What will it be costing you to switch suppliers?
Are your competitors growing? And could the growth impact suppliers’ price?
III. The Threat Imposed by new Entrants
The competition you currently have is bound to evolve with time. There will be new competitors making an entrance into the industry, and they’ll surely be checking in with new ideas, some of which are likely to get you out of business.
Are there any barriers to entry? What’s the startup cost required? Is it low enough to be afforded by a vast majority of interested investors?
So should one of your employees decide to break off from you, how much will they need in terms of starting capital to establish a business that’s competing on the same scale as yours?
IV. The Threat of Substitutes
The last thing you’d want to look into is the possibility of getting substituted. It could be about your products getting replaced by another product, or your clients finding a substitute service provider.
The question is, should your customers find someone else to satisfy their needs, will you be thrown out of business?
Is there an alternative solution to the problems that threaten the prevailing of your business? How easy is it for your products o be replaced or for your customers to find an alternative solution to their problems?
What’s your secret for sticking out and how long will it take before someone else figures it our or comes with something even better?
The point is to keep growing your business and improving on the product and services until you’re operating at a scale where new entrants will be chickening out at the thought of going in competition with you.
This post is generally meant to help you test out your marketing strategy for sustainability. By responding to the four questions, pondering over the macro risks, and reviewing your competitive ecosystem, what you’re doing is assessing the marketing strategies you’re employing for long term viability.
Challenges will arise, and the last thing you want to happen to you is to be caught on the off-guard. Come to think of it; solutions can’t be whipped up. You have to take your time to analyse them and even test them out before you can go ahead and fully implement them.
Planning way ahead of time gives you more time to analyse some of the solutions and even test them out before you can go ahead and put them into practice. That way you can be sure that your strategy is flexible enough to adjust to future changes and the modifications within snugly.
That said, we’d like you to think of your strategy as a moving plan. But for it to be effective long enough, then it has to be adjusted every step of the way.
For more help regarding your strategy and how to tweak it best, you might want to talk to us or hire us to help you altogether by contacting us via email or speaking to one of our customer service agents via the live chat box below. You can also call us on +67 6789 9852.