Marketing is a broad field, encompassing everything from market analysis to branding to advertising to customer experience. Marketing is so broad, that some of its functions are often broken up into smaller departments or teams within organisations; common examples include customer experience, market research and public relations. So, what do we mean when we refer specifically to the role of marketing strategist?
For us at AE, marketing strategists are responsible for determining the best way to promote a product/service or gain customers. There are two broad phases: 1) market analysis to determine the overall positioning and 2) creative direction to attract ideal customers.
Phase 1: Market Analysis
Having agreed that marketing strategists have to conduct analysis to determine how the company will achieve a competitive advantage, the next step is to gather the data. Typically, you need data on customers and competitors.
- Who are they? Demographics, social indicators, values, lifestyle, attitudes, etc. Age, gender and income are simply not enough.
- What problems are they using your products/services to solve?
- What do they value in products/services/companies like yours?
- How much are they willing to pay?
- Where do they go looking for similar products/services?
- Who and what influences their decisions (e.g. media platforms, friends and family members, research publications, and so on)?
On the competitive environment:
- Who do your customers consider to be your competitors?
- What do these competitors offer (products/services/value proposition)?
- How is the market divided in terms of market share?
- What do these competitors do well/poorly?
- How dynamic is the market? How quickly do market players respond to change?
Phase 2: Creative Direction
Once you understand the market, have determined your ideal customers and can anticipate competitive reactions, now you need to provide direction to the company on how it should attract and retain its ideal customers and thus achieve and defend its competitive advantage. Other functional leaders within the organisation depend on marketing strategists to help them determine where to focus their investments. For example, the distribution manager needs market insight to determine which retail outlets ideal customers would frequent; product development needs to understand which features should be included in new products; and corporate strategy needs to understand how consumer trends could influence the long-term positioning of the company.
To provide this creative direction, predicting and shaping where markets will go is more useful than working solely with current information. Prediction requires an understanding of (and data on) the drivers of change. For example, in Barbados, a larger proportion of young adults in 2010 were renting than young adults a decade prior. They also were renting to a greater degree than older generations. The marketing strategist needs to understand why this is the case in order to predict how it will evolve. It is not enough to simply accept that it obtains today and assume it will continue into the future.
If you believe that you lack the information you need to excel in your role as a marketing strategist, we can help you close your information gaps and add even more value to your organisation and the customers you serve.