What is your marketing strategy?
Does that question cause a little bit of anxiety?
If so, you may be a marketing coordinator, marketing strategist, or the VP of Marketing at a fortune 500 company. Maybe you’re new to your position, transferring from another department. Maybe you’ve studied marketing tactics and you have a taste for advertising, a flare for design, or simply a bright idea that you’d like to share with the world.
Whatever the case may be, you will not succeed in marketing without a well-developed marketing strategy. Lacking a thorough marketing strategy, you won’t even know how to define success for your marketing campaigns, much less achieve it. You may measure many metrics and even see your company grow from year to year, but without a clear marketing strategy in place, you’re still just firing paint at the wall, expensive paint.
In this post, we provide a framework for developing a marketing strategy that can be shared, understood and implemented from the executive levels of your organization to the copywriters and designers who work in the day to day.
It’s important to conceptualize your marketing strategy as a cyclical, and evolving, process; one that you will return to time and again.
Your marketing strategy should be developed in three main phases. These are: internal factors, external factors, channels and tactics.
Internal Factors to Consider When Developing a Marketing Strategy
This crucial first step is often the most overlooked in all of marketing. We dive into social media campaigns, content marketing and more, without a clear idea of what our core business is. Here are some steps to help you take stock of your organization.
- Review the mission and vision of your organization.
- What difference do you make in the lives of your clients, your customers?
- What do you do better than anyone else?
- What do people love you for, what are you known for?
Gather Your Stories
I’m not talking about when you were incorporated or who your CEO is and how many locations you have across the East Coast. I mean, how you have impacted the lives and success of those who have worked with you. What changes have you brought to your clients and customers? How have you changed the industry for the better? Why do your clients and customers choose you, and why will they never leave?
You need a stockpile of these stories so you can craft compelling marketing that reaches your audiences and convinces them that you will have a similar impact in their lives and organizations. Your marketing strategy should be developed around the core stories of your organization, stories of impact and change, and you should continually collect new stories that help illustrate your impact.
Identify Your Marketing Goals
The topic of goals is far-reaching, but here are two things to keep in mind as you begin framing your own.
First, all marketing goals should ultimately be business goals. You are not seeking to drive awareness for its own sake, or to come up with a snazzy punch line that is guaranteed to get laughs. Instead, you are growing your business in practical and measurable ways through the application of your marketing strategy.
Second, you should aim to drive measurable growth in revenue, market share, etc. over a specific time period. In identifying these goals it can be helpful to frame them using the S.M.A.R.T method.
Gather Your Marketing Team
Too often marketing “strategies” are little more than a hodge-podge of the expertise and skill sets of whoever happens to be sitting in the room. Do not overlook the vital step of choosing the right people to meet your objectives.
For example, you may have people who are familiar with placing magazine ads or posting to Facebook in your office, but has anyone on your team grown an organization’s market share for a product or service category by more than 4%? Do you have the analysts you’ll need to evaluate your market and your competition? Do you have the necessary buy-in from executives and decision-makers to get things done?
If you do not have the personnel, stop. Go get them. CC them, take them to coffee and explain your vision, hire them. You need the right people in place to help you reach your goals.
When you assemble a team based on your goals, rather than confine your goals to your team’s abilities, you’ll start discussing all kinds of ideas, from marketing channels you haven’t thought of, to messaging, tactics and obstacles that weren’t on your radar. Together with your team, you’ll approach your market operation with confidence.
External Factors to Consider When Developing a Marketing Strategy
Choose Your Target Audience and Learn From Them
You need to thoroughly understand your target audience. This may mean your current customers and contacts, or it may mean new faces you haven’t reached yet, depending on your goals.
The following list of questions is by no means exhaustive, but having the answers to most of these questions will help you identify the best messages and marketing channels to reach them by.
- Where do they live?
- How much do they make?
- Where do they socialize?
- Where do they get their information?
- What keeps them up at night?
- What role do our products/services play in their lives?
- How do they make decisions?
You must know your marketplace. Is it growing or shrinking, saturated with competition or just in its infancy? Depending on the maturity of the market and the competition, you may need to raise awareness about products and services your audience doesn’t know that it needs, or seek to differentiate yourself from competitors who provide similar products/services.
Market analytics represents a specific skill-set, so you will need to rely on your team to help give you the essential context of your chosen market. This will help you speak into the competitive space with a compelling voice that lets everyone know why you’re there, and why they should bother to take notice.
Implementation and Evaluation of Your Marketing Strategy
Develop Tactics to Support Your Goals
This is the fun part. This is where you develop the strategies that will help you reach your goals. You will combine market analytics with bold storytelling and a relentless drive towards your goals.
While this may seem daunting, the development and implementation of tactics is made much easier by the groundwork you’ve done up to this point.
- Choose Your Message
- Choose Your Channels
- Choose Your Deployment Schedule
- Augment Your Team as Necessary
- Review the Plan – ask “What are we missing, what have we overlooked?”
These are the steps you should take in a developing a marketing strategy. We’ll cover Execution, Evaluation, and evolution in a later post.
If you need help developing a web marketing strategy, it makes sense to retain the services of professional web marketing consultants. They can help you identify your story, your core messaging, and the channels best suited to help you reach your goals.