Continuing our article from last week about general auto parts strategy, you want to:
- Set specific marketing goals
- Size up your competition
- Tear down your product(s)
Once you’ve done these three things, you’re ready to continue.
Identify your USPs (Unique Selling Propositions)
Defining the USPs (unique selling propositions) of your products shouldn’t be too hard. You know what your product does or doesn’t do better than the competition. All you’re doing when you identify your USPs is put those benefits/advantages into words.
However, a USP isn’t a catchy slogan or vague statement. It isn’t a generic claim either, like “low prices” or “great service.” Everyone claims to have low prices and great service…these features aren’t unique. A good USP should:
- Help customers understand some of the specific benefits of your product or service, and
- Show what the competition doesn’t (or can’t) offer
- The Only Oil Specifically Designed for Direct Injection Engines
- The Only _______ You Can Install Yourself with Basic Hand Tools
- The Only _______ That Comes With A Lifetime Warranty and A Price Match Guarantee
- Affordable _________ That Are Designed and Manufactured In the USA
Well-defined USPs are a key part of your marketing strategy. Be sure to test them by asking for feedback from customers, vendors, fellow business owners, employees, etc. Leave no stone unturned when it comes to defining what your company and/or your products do best.
Re-Visit Your Specific Goals
The process of assessing the competition and tearing down your product will inevitably cause you to change your goals. Perhaps you’ll decide that some of the goals you laid out really weren’t that important, or that you’ll want to expand on your original goals after seeing how badly the competition holds up!
Whatever the case, don’t skip this step. It’s easy to say “my original goals are just fine” and move on, but you’ll regret that decision later. Take your time and really suss things out…clarity of purpose is key, as is confidence in your plan.
Break Your Primary Goal Down Into Steps
From this point forward, choosing a strategy is less about your process and more about surrounding yourself with the right people. Someone with marketing experience and industry knowledge can be immensely helpful when you get to this point.
However, for example’s sake, let’s say that your primary goal is to become the #1 online retailer of beadlock rims for dedicated off-road vehicles. Your steps might look something like this (for example):
- Step #1: Get your product reviewed by at least one major 4WD publication.
- Step #2: Sponsor various 4WD events across the country, bringing a set of rims to every event to show off.
- Step #3: Become the official wheel provider of various off-road driving schools by contacting each school, allowing them to test your product, and then arriving at a financial arrangement that includes co-branding.
- Step #4: Launch a “brand awareness” search engine marketing campaign that ensures anyone searching for “beadlock rims” finds your website.
- …and so on
There is no right or wrong way to attack your primary marketing goal. The key is to have a step by step plan that you believe in, and the resources you need to execute that plan.
What About Branding?
No marketing strategy would be complete without also putting careful thought into branding. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll describe branding as “what you want consumers to think about your company,” and we’ll suggest that you try to boil your brand down to a simple 15 word (or less) description of your company (who it is, what it does, and what it stands for). It’s easier said than done, but it’s a good exercise.
Another good exercise is to read this article: https://medium.com/@bbergher/a-lightweight-branding-exercise-for-startups-8776f0cb0ea7
But ultimately, branding and marketing strategy isn’t something you want to try and tackle on your own. Hire a marketing person with experience or hire an agency. While there’s an expense associated with hiring an expert, the value is that you’ll save time (and money) by streamlining and improving your strategy.
The keys to a great marketing strategy are:
- A precise understanding of where your product fits in the marketplace, what it’s strengths and weaknesses are, and why someone should or should not buy it.
- Clear, specific goals.
- A plan to accomplish these goals, with resources to facilitate and confidence to persevere when things aren’t going well.
Not that we’re trying to convince you to hire our company, but we must emphasize that hiring a professional marketer is important during the strategy stage . Even if you simply pay someone to consult with you on your strategy, that’s money well spent. The cost of a poor strategy is much, much higher than the cost of hiring a professional to help you with your plan.