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dobney.com - Market strategies - content area

Market strategies - resources

The process of developing market strategies from setting target markets, analysing competition and identifying key capabilities to developing plans, brands and branding and understanding different types of markets.

For help and advice on developing marketing plans and strategies contact info@dobney.com

Strategic analysis

Strategic analysis Strategy is about choosing how to allocate resources and tactics to achieve business and market success. Developing a strong strategy requires an objective analysis and understanding of markets, costs and capabilities in the face of competitive forces. From this analysis, and by identifying resource gaps and applying creativity, a number of options and opportunities will emerge that can be used to build and implement a solid strategic plan for new or existing markets.

Analysing target markets

X27_1_target_markets_9601.jpg For strategic analysis, choosing which customers and markets to concentrate on is a fundamental decision. A clear view of the target market, and target customer focuses energies and resources from the point of view of strategy, so that plans are driven by what has value to the customer, and what has the greatest potential for return for the business given its capabilities and competitive environment.

While counts and statistics are needed for forecasting, customers in the target market also need to be sketched as individuals using personas, or use-cases, or pen portraits to bring out the essential qualities of individuals and businesses so as to try to think like the customer thinks.

Analysis of capabilities and competencies

X27_1_capabilities_9601.jpg Identifying core organisational capabilities and competences is the internal bedrock of strategic analysis that has to be linked to customers and competitors to develop well-founded business plans and strategies.

A businesses will 'know' what it does, however, articulating core strengths, seeing how these capabilities can be leveraged into new areas and deciding where to allocate resources for development and investment are always subject to judgement and need to be clearly articulated and mapped on to customer needs and competitive threats.

Analysis of competition

Games and analysis of competition Understanding capabilities and customers identifies business opportunities, however, the third element of strategic analysis is to look at the competitive environment - what your competitors are doing, where the next technological developments are coming from, and the general directions the market is moving. This includes strengths and weakness, resources and identification of competitors' objectives and strategic directions.

Competitive analysis can be carried out as a one-off project, or drawing on the wider pool of knowledge from ongoing programmes of competitor intelligence gathering.

About brands

Branding Brands are everywhere, and everyone is familiar with brands, if nothing else just from looking at adverts and everyday shopping. However, from a marketing perspective brands are more complex than at first they seem.

Brands work at several different levels at once, conveying information about what is on offer, the quality of a product or service, who the product is meant for and what the product says about the buyer. Strong brands create long-standing intangible value with unique, defendable market positions.

Brand experience

X27_1_brand_experience_9601.jpg Brands can be interpreted as guarantees, as relationships, as personalities, as an image, as a set of values. Each capturing a different facet in which consumers react and think of of a product or a company. In some cases, consumers will have no view of your brand, in others they will queue for 24hrs to get your latest product.

For a brand to work consistently and successfully the brand as a whole has to work for the customer from start to finish. We describe this as the brand experience - how does the brand deliver through all it's touch points?

Brand content and personification

X27_1_personification1.jpg Brands capture more than just a name and a logo, but getting to precisely what people understand by a brand and how they feel about brands can be difficult, particularly once at the level of emotional content on the Brand Pyramid.

In qualitative research, projection techniques are often used to help explore feelings and perceptions that are otherwise difficult to articulate. One very common technique for assessing a brand is known as personification - imagining the brand is a person (or other object) and then trying to describe that person in human-to-human terms. These techniques can be extended to sensory-emotional method for understanding deeper connections to brands.

Brand families

Brand families like nested dolls Brands form the basis of how products and services communicate themselves to customers and build connections with customers. For companies with a portfolio of products, brand families are a way of establishing brands for product categories. Brand families involve strategic decisions about how to organise the collection of brands. Is the parent branding to be visible? How are the groups of brands to be organised? How do new product categories get branded?

The financial benefits of brands

X27_1_brand_finance_9601.jpg A name and nice logo is not the same as a 'brand'. Developing a brand requires investment to make the brand stand for something - quality, value, effectiveness - and for this to translate to a value benefit for customers in terms of purchase consideration and willingness to pay. To be successful this investment also has to result in a financial return over from using and supporting the brand, over and above generics or white-labels.

Branding is thus an investment decision in addition to being a promise to the customer. Brand equity is used to measure the value of the brand, as it is important to recognise how a brand adds value and what that value is in financial and investment terms.

Brands in business markets

X27_1_business_brand_9601.jpg Brands are often thought to be the preserve of consumer markets, but even for commodity products where products are apparently purchased on price, brands have an important place in business marketing.

In business markets, purchasers are often buying the quality of supply, rather than just the product itself, and often pass on the quality of component brands as evidence of quality to their own customers. Establishing a brand, and reputation for quality of delivery, are essentials part of successful business to business marketing.

From the creative step to detailed plans

X27_1_chair379398_960_7201.jpg A thorough strategic analysis provides detailed information about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, but it has to be turned into ideas and plans that can take the business forwards within the constraints and needs identified during analysis. This needs insight and creativity - what we call "The Creative Step" combining imagination and problem solving with a thorough understanding of capabilities and resources to form a plan of priorities and investment needs for the future.

Science and technology marketing

X27_1_technology_markets_9601.jpg Technology markets are characterised by rapid change and complicated relationships between suppliers, developers and end consumers and challenges of scale and pricing. An unusual feature of technology markets are network effects combining platform, developers, advertisers and consumers as a mutually-supporting eco-system.

In terms of marketing, this means that a specialist approach is needed to understand how to develop the appropriate market strategies to win and hold customers, while building relationships with suppliers and developers.

Segmentation - building for business alignment

X27_1_business_segmentation_9601.jpg Segmentation is comparatively simple to carry out from a market research or analysis viewpoint using statistical tools to identify different groups within a market or among customers. However, making a segmentation strategy work involves more than just data classification.

In particular, the business has to be aligned to the segments to ensure each segment has appropriate products and services, and each segments needs to be clearly identified for targeting, and tracked over time to measure performance. Many pure market research segmentations fail once the research money has been spent, because the business short-circuited the implementation phase required to deliver a successful segmentation.

Implementation - making it happen

Implementing plans to make it happen In the formalised process of strategy development that starts with analysis of capabilities, customers and competitors, the insight from the creative step workshops has to be turned into plans and on to implementation.

A team will be needed, resource requirements need to be identified, the strategy needs to be honed, developed and revised with others in the organisation, and the resources obtained in terms of budget, staffing and skills and placed into a plan with costs, timescales and milestones, while keeping an eye on who is the customer and what the customer will buy.

Service design and differentiation

Service design Service has different meaning in different situations. Good service is both the friendly face at the desk, or an attentive waiter engaging the customer with conversation making someone feel welcome. In other situations, good service is just doing the job with no hassle or 'no service', for instance in utility markets where customers just want electricity or water delivered without needing to 'build a relationship' with the supplier.

Service design is about understanding the customer journey, and tailoring a service plan to make the customer feel comfortable, confident and cared for on all points of the journey.

Business-to-business marketing

Business markets differences to consumer markets Marketing to businesses is different to marketing to consumers, although techniques such as branding, can be transferred successfully.

In particular, in business-to-business markets (B2B) customers purchase in more structured ways often with buying units and not just individuals, and weight of importance of customers varies, so marketing is more focused on customer relationships via account managers than is normally true for consumer markets.

Marketing effectiveness

Understanding marketing effectiveness The range of marketing options and opportunities for marketers has expanded dramatically. Once there was only a limited choice between TV, radio, print and point-of-sale. Now there are a whole range of media from direct mail to the Internet supported by new technologies and new ways of measuring markets.

Marketing effectiveness is about estimating the return on marketing spend. While online click-through and conversion rates do provide estimates of cost per lead and cost per sale, many markets are not reliant purely on online advertising. How does TV, radio, blogging and events measure up in terms of return on spend?

Pricing strategies

Strategies for setting prices Pricing strategy is not just about setting prices once, but the principles for setting and managing prices in the mid to long term. It can include price positioning - for instance against a leading competitor, discounting and margin structures or even complex dynamic pricing models such as those used in the transportation industry.

Behind successful pricing strategies is an understanding of the demand curve - how demand shifts as prices change. Pricing research is central to understanding demand and to track competitor behaviours.


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