“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.” – Milan Kundera
In order for your business to be successful, you need to have a well-thought-out and multi-channel marketing strategy. But you can’t just put some ideas on the table and start checking off boxes. You need to follow a particular process to ensure you not only identify your target audience but fully understand their needs and how your product or service can address those needs.
Although marketing is essential, it can quickly become a case of hit-and-miss when carried out without a defined strategy. In this article, we’ll take you through a step-by-step process for putting your marketing strategy together.
Let’s dive right in.
Why A Marketing Strategy Is Important
Marketing without a strategy is essentially useless. Creating a marketing strategy gives your activities a definite direction aligned to your business goals, as well as creating markers for you to check against to determine whether or not your efforts are successful.
A great marketing strategy will:
- Help you identify core business goals
- Map out ways to achieve business goals using specific tactics
- Keep you one step ahead of your competitors
- Identify specific customer needs and how your business can cater to them
- Maximize the use of your resources
- Identify key channels to focus on and the appropriate budget to allocate to each
What a Marketing Strategy Should Include
A comprehensive marketing strategy should include the following.
1. Target Audience – Buyer Personas
Identifying who your ideal customers are is essential for your marketing strategy to be effective. The target audience for your campaigns will be the group of people who you think are most likely to purchase your products or services.
Once you establish your target audience, you can create buyer personas that are essentially fictional representations of your ideal customer developed using actual data and insights. These personas help you visualize more specifically what kind of customer you’re looking to engage with.
To improve the marketing strategy’s usefulness, you should also identify the pain points and concerns of your personas, which could make them more or less likely to choose your product as a solution. Customer pain points can be:
- Financial – can your products help your prospects save money?
- Convenience – do your products offer convenient alternatives to your competitors?
- Service – does your business offer a satisfactory customer experience?
Identifying the pain points of your ideal buyers helps you to determine whether your products solve their major problems. This is key if you want to grab their attention and engage in a meaningful way.
2. Competitors and Collaborators
It is important to do a competitive analysis and identify how your products or services stack up against your competitors. This step is crucial as it helps you identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (often called a SWOT analysis).
For a comprehensive competitive analysis:
- Identify competitors who offer similar products and services
- Group these competitors in separate categories to identify your direct competitors and secondary competitors
- Learn all you can about your competitors – look at their official pages on social media, examine the content they produce, find out what customers are saying about them, etc
- Know the keywords their websites rank for and their primary traffic sources
Apart from competitors, you also need to pay attention to key collaborators that your business can partner with for better marketing results. Collaborations and partnerships can take many forms and may help you to share resources and save time.
PRO TIP: To run better sales and marketing campaigns in the near future, create competitive battle cards at this step. You can gather all necessary information in a single place for your sales reps to help them focus on pitching rather than worrying about the content.
3. Business Differentiator and Value Proposition
In a highly competitive market, your differentiator sets you apart from the competition, who sell the same products or offer the same services. Combining that with your unique value proposition distinguishes your business in the marketplace.
Starting with these in your marketing strategy, ensure that your business differentiator and value proposition correlates with what your target audience will consider valuable, influencing their decision to choose your business instead of another.
Your value proposition should:
- Clearly state how your products or services solve your audience’s problems and pain points
- Spell out the specific benefits your products offer
- Include your differentiator, making it clear to your audience why they should choose you over your competitors
4. Marketing Channels
The marketing channels you choose can make or break the success of your marketing strategy. With lots of different channels to choose from, you need to select the ones that align best with your goals, as well as the channels that have the best chance of reaching your target audience successfully.
In many cases, a mix of the following channels can yield the best results:
Half of the world’s population are active users of various social media platforms. Including this as part of your strategy is a crucial source of traffic and visibility for your business (this can be organic or paid).
The following are the best social media platforms for different company types.
- B2B companies – LinkedIn, ProductHunt, Angellist, AppSumo, Instagram
- B2C companies – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest
- eCommerce – Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter
Almost all social media platforms offer paid ads with tools to collect data and insights from such paid efforts.
Content marketing is an important channel you should add to your marketing strategy. With content marketing, you present your business as an authority in your industry, which can enable you to build trust with your target audience and showcase your industry expertise.
You can include the following as part of your business’s content tactics:
Email marketing is a valuable marketing tool with over 4.3 billion active users. Email marketing lets you personalize your messaging to your audience helps with sales and traffic generation, and lets you reach your target audience with the right messages at specific times.
Paid ads grant you increased visibility on different channels your audience is engaged on in exchange for money spent. These can be paid ads on social media, Google ads, banner ads, paid guest posts on other businesses’ websites, and many more.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO ensures your business is ranked for keywords and queries that matter to your target audience. As a result, you will receive organic traffic to your webpages, leading to increased conversions and revenue.
5. Putting Your Strategy in Motion
Once you’ve researched all the steps identified above, it’s time to combine all of the elements of your strategy into one cohesive piece. You’ll need an action plan outlining how you’ll achieve the documented business goals, the teams to make it happen, and the timeframe for strategy implementation.
You can choose to have different departments that take care of various aspects of your marketing activities, or you can choose to assign tasks based on available skill sets.
6. Metrics to Track Success
It’s helpful to outline various metrics you’ll be using to track the success of your efforts. For example, to track the success of your email marketing, you’ll want to check in on metrics like open rate, deliverability score, click-through rate, unsubscribe rate, etc. Make sure you keep your goals in mind when outlining your metrics.
Use the above step-by-step approach to create a comprehensive marketing strategy to help you achieve your business goals and take your company to new heights. And don’t forget to test, measure, and optimize your strategy for continued results.