Marketing strategy can prime your business for growth.

Having a solid marketing strategy is critical for success. All too often great ideas fail because they’ve been marketed to the wrong people at the wrong time, or too much investment has been piled into an area with a low rate of return.

With that in mind, here are five sure-fire ways to avoid the pit falls and turn your business investments into a success story.

1. Know your vision and mission:

First of all, you need to ensure that you know exactly what your product is, what your aims are, and how you plan to get there. Can you explain what you do in a single sentence? It sounds obvious enough, but it’s imperative to nail down exactly what you’re offering. After all, if you can’t explain your business clearly, how do you expect customers to understand what you can offer them?

2. Know your customers:

Before you reach out to audiences, you’ll need to identify who your targets are. It’s a waste of both time and resources to blanket-market to large numbers of people if only a small fraction of them are real suspects; that is, those people in your defined target market. Instead, identify who your core customers are likely to be, by drawing up a customer profile. What’s their demographic? What are their challenges? What are their goals and pain points?

3. Know your competition:

It’s likely that you are providing a solution to a common problem; so the chances are, someone else is doing something similar. It’s worth finding out who your direct competitors are; what services they’re offering; what fees they’re charging; and what special offers and marketing they provide. This will help you to hone your own service, perhaps even single out your own unique selling points, and help you establish where you can improve on the competition.

4. Use data intelligently:

These days the sheer volume of data for marketing usage is incredible. It’s also diverse, complex and changes in an instant. We therefore need to continuously adapt our approach to deal with data effectively—to make it a truly worthwhile investment.

5. Be patient:

Conventional marketing wisdom says it can take between five and nine contacts or brand impressions before a prospect takes action, so plan and execute well thought-out campaigns over time. You may not achieve fantastic results immediately, but clever marketing and nurturing of prospects will reap rewards if you are patient.