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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

Media advertising

John Wanamaker famously said: "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." With a clear strategy, you can maximise the results you get from your advertising.

What are your goals?

The first step in any media advertising campaign is to set your objectives. Your goal could be to raise awareness to pave the way for a sales drive. You could be advertising to drive response, perhaps by promoting an offer on your website or flagging up your stand in an exhibition guide. Or you could be aiming to change customer attitudes by highlighting specific benefits of your products or service.

Targeting your audience

Then you need to work out how to reach your target audience. Local papers and free magazines could provide the right audience for a small business operating in a specific catchment area. Business-to-business firms can use industry publications and events to advertise to specific groups. Always negotiate - rates are rarely set in stone.

Your advert needs to convey a clear message with a call to action. Your strategy should be based around promoting a single, solid benefit, so you need to understand what motivates your target audience to buy.

The look and feel of your advertising should be in line with your brand values. A cheap-looking advertisement can damage your reputation.

Return on investment

Today, no matter what type of advertising you do, you can measure the results. Analytics tools enable businesses to measure and fine-tune every aspect of their online advertising. Media advertising can be measured by using specific response mechanisms - dedicated telephone numbers, web pages, email addresses and even QR codes.

After running your advert, you need to look at the response levels you generated. Did your advert deliver a good return on investment; in other words, has it brought in more new business than it cost to run? What adjustments can you make in the future?

Fulfilling the enquiry

Follow up is the final piece of the jigsaw. An enquiry from an ad is often just the first step towards making a sale, so make sure you and your sales staff are ready to make the most of the increased interest that your advertising brings.