Without effective marketing, your business isn’t going to get very far. Craft a marketing strategy then implement that plan effectively to ensure your ultimate success. With a marketing plan, you can’t advertise your products and services in the most efficient manner and you’re likely to waste much of your marketing budget. Without a marketing plan, you’ll likely lose out to a competitor, even if they have an inferior product. Just look at products like the Beta video format, Microsoft Zune, and Google Glass. All represented product wins that turned into flops for the company because they didn’t craft a marketing strategy that worked. A marketing strategy allows you to learn from your mistakes and successes as well as those made by competitors to create better plans in the future.
As part of your marketing plan, you develop the right KPIs (key performance indicators) and monitoring these KPIs guides you toward reaching your specific goals. A thoroughly researched and crafted marketing strategy starts with an understanding of the market and factors impacting that market. By pulling together everything you researched and learned about your market, your marketing budget goals further and produces positive results.
So, what is a marketing strategy?
A marketing strategy is, in effect, a road map of what you are going to be doing. It enables you to make better business decisions. Goal and objective are created, and the strategy tells you how you are going to do achieve those goals. In a nutshell, a marketing strategy is a way to reach out to your potential customer base and transform the potential offered by that market into leads and, ultimately, sales. When you craft a marketing strategy, it’s about creating more customers for your business by understanding what prospective customers want, what your competition does that works (including a thorough understanding of their products), and what environmental factors impact your chances of success.
To do this, craft a marketing strategy that’s multifaceted. You need to go beyond researching the competition, as well as discovering more about your customers. You need to understand how the economy, technology, and laws impact your ability to reach success. For instance, in a poor economy, opportunities exist to market products at lower prices or to focus on products that offer greater value to satisfy consumer needs. In a bad economy, consumers may opt for pay-as-you-go phones rather than signing a contract for service.
Once you complete the research and determine how factors impact your ability to succeed (something we call a situation analysis) you must set goals for both the short and long term, then develop strategies to reach those goals. You need to work out the best channels to communicate with your audience as well as the best message to encourage conversion. You need to decide how you are going to position your company in terms of core values, ethics, and other elements demonstrating corporate social responsibility. You also need to know what exactly you want each campaign to do, such as increasing brand awareness, generating leads, having more hits on the website, etc, and set quantitative metrics for each goal. This way, you can measure the success of the campaign. Then your metrics, gathered from analytical software like Monitor Web Vitals, help you make adjustments based on insights gleaned from these metrics.
Elements to include as you craft a marketing strategy
Your target market
Your target market is composed of those customers and prospects disposed toward buying your product because it solves a problem they face. Commonly, companies build detailed personas, like the one below, to guide their strategy to reach that target market. Many brands have multiple personas that differ in key elements such as preferred marketing channel, appropriate messaging, or specific benefits sought.
Once you develop personas, you’re in a better position to craft a marketing strategy to reach and convert these consumers.
Develop KPI metrics
If you don’t know the objective of each piece of marketing material, it is impossible to determine whether it was successful, and that means you have no clue as to how to improve performance. Knowing what you want to achieve before you do it enables you to go forward and implement your strategies successfully. You can post marketing material for a variety of reasons, such as increasing brand awareness, in which case you may want to measure shares and reach, for example. If your goal is engagement, then likes and comments are KPIs you must evaluate. If your goal is about directing traffic to the website, then a clear call to action on the post and hits received from that post are the KPIs.
The creation of appropriate KPIs informs you about the ROI of each individual marketing effort. Having the right goals and measurements in place are the only effective way of generating an accurate report on the ROI of each activity so you can optimize future activities.
When you craft a marketing strategy, you should set quantitative goals associated with each activity. We call these SMART goals and they detail expected performance that’s
- Specific, ie. 10% increase
- Achievable, meaning they’re a stretch but not impossible
- Time-bound, ie. within the next quarter
Your initial marketing investment might do a good job of achieving these specific goals or might fall short. If your returns fall short of anticipated returns, you should evaluate why the specific activity didn’t produce the desired results so you can do better in the future. If you did achieve your goals, you might set more challenging goals for the next quarter (or year, etc) so you’re always working to achieve greater success as a brand.
Consistency and relevant actions
As mentioned above, consistency is the key to a successful marketing campaign, and when you craft a marketing strategy, you should focus on creating consistent content using elements such as style (colors, fonts), messaging, and images. A content calendar that includes both digital and traditional media helps keep you on track with consistent messaging and builds a strong brand that resonates with your target market.
A content calendar alleviates some problems encountered in creating a cohesive brand that consumers recognize through careful attention to details and approvals by managers to ensure the message comes through loud and clear. It tells you when and where to publish a post and what type of post makes sense. A content calendar coordinates posts across various platforms to ensure a consistent message. Over time, even an unknown brand following the right procedure achieves awareness among its target market and a consistent brand image.
The content produced in relation to the calendar is targeted, so it already hits home, and the consistency keeps the brand top-of-mind with the audience. It enables you to post with a plan, meaning each post is linked, and together, they may tell an overarching story. It prevents you from over-posting, which causes brand blindness in the mind of the very people you want to attract to your brand. Posting on social media, for instance, must meet both the format popular on that platform and the optimal posting schedule, as you can see below.
Each post should have a specific and measurable reason for being shared on that platform, such as a high usage rate among your target market. The more you post, within limits, the more you can use insights and analytics to refine your marketing material.
You should now have some insights into how and why to craft a marketing strategy. I hope you find this post helpful. If you’re interested in learning more, I shared some related posts at the end of this post for further reading.
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