Successful businesses all have one thing in common: defined marketing strategies. Growing your business without having a clear marketing strategy is almost impossible. It’s easy to get distracted by the day to day marketing tasks like building your website, writing a blog or creating the perfect magazine advertisement and forget to create an actual strategy. Without a strategy, those tactics could all be leading you to dead ends.

So, where do you start? It’s all about asking yourself five key questions about your business. These questions will help you define and nail down a strategy that will propel your business ahead of your competition.

In which category does your business fit?

Basically, this is just a short description of what your business does. Don’t overthink it. You don’t need a five paragraph essay to describe your business (hopefully). If you over complicate this description it can be confusing for customers. Don’t leave them wondering what you actually do. Keep it clear and concise and don’t make it a guessing game.

Who is your target customer base/market?

Now that you’ve defined what you do, it’s time to figure out who you actually serve. Having too broad of a customer base with no clear focus can make it hard to see results from your marketing efforts. You may end up spreading your efforts too thin to attract an undefined group of people, rather than staying focused on marketing towards a specific group.

What is your unique selling proposition?

Basically, what makes your product/service better than your competitor’s. It’s likely that your business isn’t one-of-a-kind. There are thousands of retail stores, restaurants and electricians that aren’t truly unique. Let’s look at department stores. Saks Fifth Avenue sells luxury and exceptional service, while Walmart sells bargains. Defining your USP relates back to finding your target customer base/market. Saks Fifth Avenue and Walmart have different target customers which helped them develop their USPs that fit those customer’s needs/wants.

Who is your competition?

This seems like a pretty easy one, right? Well, often times businesses don’t take the time to actually sit down and figure out exactly who their competition is. If you don’t know who your competition is, it can be hard to tell customers what makes you better than the rest. This can can frustrate customers as they move through the buying process.

Why are you better than the rest?

This doesn’t need to be complicated. Once you’ve figured out who your competition is, sit down and make a list of all the things you do better. Figure out which factors will mean the most to your customers and include them on your website and in your elevator pitch.

What is your strategy statement?

Now that you’ve answered all 5 questions, it’s time to put it all together. Writing a statement is basically a fill in the blank sentence. According to Smallbiztrends.com, a good formula to use looks like this. “Your company is the leading category for target customers that provides unique selling proposition/benefit. Unlike competitors, your company does unique benefit”

Once you go through this process and write your marketing statement, you will see the efficacy of your marketing efforts double. Going in with a plan helps ensure that your time and resources are spent in the most effective, beneficial way.