What steps should you take when you discover your market strategy is failing? That’s a big, important question without a clear, definitive answer. In this post, we offer 9 steps to take when you find your market strategy is failing. Below, you see the factors contributing to the failure of startups but I can tell you, that the situation isn’t much different for other small businesses, although they may muddle through for years before finally failing. It’s like in chess, the common wisdom is that you made your fatal mistake in the first 3 moves of the game and checkmate was a forgone conclusion, barring a major mistake by your opponent. The business environment isn’t much more forgiving.
If you feel as if your business’s marketing strategies simply aren’t landing the way you wanted and expected them to when you created them, it’s time to make a change. Persisting with a market strategy that simply isn’t working and that’s never likely to work is never the right strategy, so don’t bury your head in the sand.
How to determine whether your market strategy is failing
It’s in your best interests to look at where things are going wrong with your marketing strategy before you experience an unrecoverable failure. Armed with information, you can improve your strategy so you achieve your desired results by matching your strategy to the market better going forward. That’s what we’re going to talk more about today, so read on now and learn more about the steps you should take next.
Measure and develop insights
The place to start when you suspect your market strategy is failing is to develop a market intelligence platform that monitors key performance variables (KPIs) so you detect any possible failures long before they become catastrophic. Use a dashboarding platform, such as IBM’s Cognos, to gather KPIs from various platforms such as Google Analytics, internal performance metrics, and other tools such as your email and social media platforms so you have everything you need to optimize performance gathered in one place. It’s always easier to see trends when you see them together rather than having to switch back and forth between analytics platforms.
The new version of Google Analytics, GA4, implements this concept by integrating data across multiple platforms such as Google Ads, the Google Play store to monitor the performance of your apps, the Google Search Console (which monitors SEO performance, and other Google platforms to bring them all to one place. While this doesn’t eliminate the need for a dedicated dashboarding tool, it does help with integrating many key elements of your marketing intelligence.
It’s also much easier to spot trends when you use appropriate visualizations rather than expecting to develop insights from long columns of numbers. The right visualization should show trends at a glace while the wrong visualizations obscure insights. For instance, the pie chart below makes it nearly impossible to develop good insights to guide decision-making. By combining age groups in a logical fashion, you may find deeper insights emerge. For instance, unless you’re Mcdonald’s where kids drive adult purchases when the company develops a Happy Meal toy that resonates with the younger set, combining kids under a certain age together makes sense because they don’t drive purchase decisions. By the same token, you might combine older consumers into a single group unless they express vastly different purchase patterns and preferences. The goal of your visualization is to make it easier to derive insights, not harder.
Once you have metrics and have displayed them using effective visualizations, it’s not time to rest on your laurels. You now need to incorporate your insights into a new market strategy designed to improve performance. It’s not always easy to make the logical leap from data to new strategies that optimize performance. For instance, consider the data visualization shown below, which shows the conversion funnel from Google Analytics.
This graphic makes it easy to determine where you’re losing prospective customers along the pathway to conversion, termed cart abandonment, the rationale for the dropoff isn’t clear but requires more exploration and intuitive leaps.
The same thing happens when you look at one metric, it might not tell the entire story. For instance, you might discover a higher conversion rate among visitors 18-25. However, if you look deeper, you might discover that, while they sport a high conversion rate, the average order value (another key metric) shows this age group makes smaller purchases than their older counterparts. Plus, determining the right market strategy to reach either or both groups isn’t evident just from the data.
Thus, optimizing your market strategy requires more than developing an understanding of whether your market strategy is failing and where you face the biggest challenges. Obviously, this is the right place to start but you need to go much further if you detect that your market strategy is failing to help you optimize performance.
Steps to take when your market strategy is failing
1. Develop an ideal customer profile
First of all, you should take the time to develop an ideal customer profile that really goes in-depth regarding the demographics, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral components of the consumers who represent your best target market.
Start developing an idealized customer through market research such as focus groups and surveys to segment the entire market into somewhat homogeneous subgroups. In today’s social media dominant market, you can even develop an understanding of the different consumer groups by using social media profiles, including posts.
Next, determine which of these groups represents the best potential for your business based on a fit between their needs and your product’s benefits. Target one or more groups to focus your efforts around. Being specific and precise with your targeting is something that really matters a lot when you’re looking to get your messages across because you can frame your appeal in a way that resonates with that group.
Below, you can see a typical market persona that summarizes an ideal customer in each target group. While this is a B2B customer, you can do the same thing in the B2C market.
2. Target your messaging based on your target market
Now that you can almost visualize your ideal customer (or several idealized customers), you can develop a marketing strategy that focuses closely on the wants and needs of each particular target market. You can share your message on the social platforms and traditional media outlets used predominantly by this target market using visuals and text that resonates with the way they see their world. For instance, all products offer a variety of benefits. By focusing on the benefits that are most important to your target market, you build a successful business.
Below, you can see how Apple uses this notion of meeting the divergent needs of their ideal customer to compete effectively with others in their market.
Rather than focusing on boring performance metrics that make a Mac better than a PC, such as fewer viral infections, the company focuses on the coolness factor to drive the purchase of its product among those it views as its target market. It’s no coincidence that Macs dominate in educational institutions (except universities) while PCs dominate in the workplace.
3. Work to build a community
Working to build a solid community is definitely an important strategy to get your business noticed and drive purchase decisions. This is helpful in that it creates a greater bond between your business and its audience, and it also helps to boost brand loyalty at the same time to encourage repeat purchases over time.
A loyal community draws in more people, especially in the digital world where your community can generate content (user-generated content or UGC) that both increases the reach of your brand messaging and makes the message appear more trustworthy since we trust other consumers and their opinions much more than we trust the brand itself. In fact, 92% of consumers report they trust this word of mouth more than messaging from the brand.
4. Collect feedback
Collecting as much feedback as you possibly can from your customers is always helpful. They’re the people whose opinions matter most and they’re the people you should listen to if you want to succeed. So go above and beyond to collect their feedback, and when you get it, make sure you act upon it in tangible ways. That’s how you make sure that you’re moving in the right direction with the changes you ultimately make. A friend of mine works as the Chief Listening Officer for Microsoft. When they introduced the Surface tablet, he listened carefully to the comments posted about the product online. He quickly generated a list of bug fixes and new features to guide the development of the next version of the device.
5. Offer ubiquitous customer support
I got off a plane last night that was delayed by over 2 hours, mostly due to weather at the plane’s origin, something the airline couldn’t control. This was obvious as the departure board showed the effects of cascading delays as the weather moved up the East coast. Yet, while waiting for my bag, many passengers stated they’d never fly the airline again, even though multiple airlines experienced the same type of delays. The airline could mitigate the damage through more effective communication with passengers that was transparent and constantly updated to provide the most accurate information at the time. I had this information through their app but many passengers were left in the dark waiting for a flight that seemed, at one point, as if it would strand them at the airport overnight.
Communication isn’t always the problem that leads to problems and a reason why your market strategy is failing, but it’s the first and most important source to explore as you work to modify your market strategy to improve performance.
6. Take a more authentic approach to social media
Taking a more authentic approach to all things related to social media is definitely a good idea. When you’re not being authentic, it makes it seem as if all you care about is a sale, and it immediately turns people off. You should try to discover the authentic side of your business; tell its story, and be clear and honest with your audience. That’s something that they’ll appreciate and help them to feel a closer bond with your brand going forward.
7. Try out the latest marketing trends
If things really aren’t going the way you want them to, it might be because the approaches to marketing you’re taking have become outdated and old-fashioned. Sometimes, you need to make the most of the latest trends in marketing and social media, and really make the most of them. Even if the trend is just temporary and passing, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use it to reach your target audience and drive more traffic to your website.
8. Work with an industry-specific industry
If you’re not sure where your market strategy is failing, it might be because you’ve been doing things in a way that’s a little too generic and boring. That might not seem like a huge problem, but it can really turn people off and cause them to stop paying attention and that’s not what you want. So work with a marketing agency that’s industry specific. If you run a law firm, for example, you might want to work with a law firm marketing ad agency that’ll understand your specific needs and audience better.
9. Automate mundane tasks and save time
A lot of the problems that businesses face with honing their marketing messages come down to not having enough time on their hands. If that’s something that you can relate to, it’s important to find ways to cut down on the amount of time you waste on certain tasks. There are often so many different tasks that can be automated, meaning you don’t have to spend an excessive amount of time on them. Embrace these new technological possibilities and free your team to focus on the things that matter.
I hope you find these 9 steps useful as you build a better marketing strategy to help your business survive in the long run. Also, I hope you understand the importance of developing a comprehensive market intelligence program to help identify when your market strategy is failing before it’s too late to make changes.
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