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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?

Building a brand - checklist

A memorable brand can reinforce your difference from competitors and can help to encourage customer loyalty. But developing a lasting brand involves a lot more than simply redesigning your logo.

  • Identify what qualities, values and experiences customers associate with your business. In order to build a credible brand, you will need to establish what these are. Remember, a brand is more than a just a name and logo.
  • Don't ignore customer perceptions in order to project a desirable, but untruthful, image. If the claims you make about your business and its offer don't tally with customer experience, they will go elsewhere. But if your business delivers what your branding promises, you will gain trust and retain custom.
  • Think about every part of your business - if your customers' associations with your brand are negative or very different from the image you project, you may need to change your offer, your customer service strategy or even the way you run your business.
  • Involve your employees - they will have their own idea of what your business stands for and whether it is delivering on its promises. Besides, you will need their co-operation if you are going to change your operation.
  • Create a set of consistent brand messages that focus on the qualities, values and experiences that customers associate with your business, its products and services. Keep these simple and easy to communicate.
  • Develop a distinctive visual brand. This must reflect your overall identity - if you are upbeat, your visuals should be bright and engaging. If you don't have the necessary skills, employ a designer to help you.
  • Apply your branding, including your visual brand and brand messages, to all of your materials - from packaging and signage to stationery, your website and marketing materials.
  • Get legal protection for your visual branding and any distinctive phrases you use to describe your business or your offer.
  • Remember that everything your business does is linked to your brand in the eyes of the customer. This includes the way your employees dress and behave.
  • Communicate your brand to your employees and explain why and how you arrived at the brand identity you are promoting. You will need their support for your branding to be effective.
  • Promote your new or revised branding through a marketing campaign that includes press releases, PR and advertising, special offers and promotions to customers. You could also consider using branded merchandise to support your brand.

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