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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?

Sales

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow - they are vital elements of marketing. The right sales strategy and effective selling techniques can make the difference between a business that gets by and one that thrives.

Your sales strategy

Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives. Whatever these are, they are likely to focus your efforts on the products and customers that offer the highest margins and the greatest potential to increase sales.

A typical objective might be to sell more of a particular product to a group of customers. Another could be building sales quickly after a product launch. Your strategy will describe how you are going to achieve these objectives.

As with any marketing, a successful sales strategy depends on understanding your customers. You need to know who they are and what they want. You also need to understand when, where and how they buy. This allows you to identify the best sales channels and sales techniques to use.

Effective selling

Unless you sell exclusively through mail order or online, your sales strategy is likely to rely on your sales force. It's vital to recruit the right salespeople and manage them effectively.

You'll need to ensure your sales team has the skills it needs to generate leads and negotiate sales. As a minimum, employees are likely to need sales advice to ensure they understand the strategy and how to approach customers. More formal sales training can pay dividends, and effective use of technology and other sales tools can significantly boost efficiency.

You can identify sales expectations and key activities for the months ahead in a detailed sales plan. A sales plan like this helps you to tie sales and marketing activities together: for example, with both sales and promotional campaigns to support a new product launch. Sales budgets can be used to both forecast cashflow and track sales performance, helping you to motivate and reward successful salespeople.