Every business needs a Marketing Strategy; however, creating one from scratch is easier said than done. That might explain why some companies cut corners on Strategic Planning and treat marketing like a cost center that eats investment to produce collateral, instead of a revenue driver that connects business with consumers and takes responsibility for growth.
Without understanding where your business fits in the market, who your target customers are, and how best to reach them before your competition does, you run the risk of spinning your wheels and failing to grow your business. When this happens, marketing budgets get cut — typically, as soon as times get tough.
Marketing strategy describes the process of how businesses and organizations understand their markets and their methods for influencing profitable customer action. To keep things simple, this is all about:
- Understanding who buys your products and services.
- Understanding how you’ll motivate them to take profitable action.
- Understanding your competitors who are trying to do the same thing.
- Understanding how you’ll measure marketing activities and refine your approach moving forward.
No matter which type of strategy you plan and execute, they all follow the same basic principles:
- Who are you trying to reach? These are your target customers or audiences you need to buy a product, donate, persuade to support an idea, or take another action that supports your objectives.
- Where will you try to reach them? These network and channel-specific strategies put an emphasis on this area.
- How will you inspire them to take action and buy from you? Your branding, channels, and tactics come into play here.
- Which ways will you measure success? If you can’t measure it, then it didn’t happen. You must prove your strategy drives results.
If you understand how strategy works on a fundamental level, you can apply that knowledge broadly — no matter how trends or platforms change.
Understanding the Competition with a SWOT Analysis
Before you can do successful marketing, you need to have an understanding of your market. Start by identifying the following four things:
- Strengths: What does your product or service do best?
- Weaknesses: Where is your product or service vulnerable to competition?
- Opportunities: How can your company improve?
- Threats: Are there any external factors that could negatively impact your success
Getting to Know Your Audience and Customer Base
Businesses exist to fulfill the needs of customers. Understanding your customer base isn’t a one-and-done task. It should be treated like an evolving process of gaining increasingly more useful insight over time, so you can best position what you’re selling as the solution they need. You can get started in two phases:
- Doing your research: This could include running customer surveys, talking to your customer support team, and analyzing website data to understand the interests of your visitors.
- Building buyer personas: These are essentially character descriptions of either an average or ideal customer.
Know your competitors
- Know who you’re up against: Identify competitors in your market.
- Learn their strengths and weaknesses: What are they doing better than you right now, where can you improve, and which weaknesses can you capitalize on?
- Better plan and execute your marketing strategy: When you understand your competitive landscape, you can more easily identify what naturally makes you different and communicate that message to your potential customers.
Getting Your Finances in Order With a Marketing Budget
Since you must spend money to make money, executing your marketing strategy will prove difficult if you don’t have your budget in order. You need to know how much money you have available to spend and how much money is getting spent where in order to both make things happen and know how much return you’re getting on each marketing dollar spent.
Setting Marketing Goals
Success must be measured relative to what you want to achieve. That’s why everything with marketing starts with goals. These goals should follow the SMART framework, which you’ve likely heard about before because it works.
- Specific: Goals should be tied to hard numbers.
- Measurable: They should be possible to track and quantify with data.
- Achievable: They should also be within reach.
- Relevant: While being meaningful to your business.
- Time-Bound: They should have a deadline.
Selecting the Best Marketing Channels to Meet Your Customers Where They Are
Potential customers need to see the right messages, in the right places, and at the right times as they work their way through their purchasing decisions. Part of executing this effectively starts with ensuring you’re doing marketing on the right channels.
Select Effective Marketing Tactics
- Publishing keyword-optimized landing pages
- Promoting new products with YouTube videos
- Reaching out to Instagram influencers to feature your products
- Creating an email newsletter that promotes your newest content
- Building an online community with a LinkedIn group
- Launching a television ad
- Running a PPC campaign
Developing Processes for Marketing Execution
The best marketing teams have a way to get things done. When you have repeatable processes and workflows in place for executing projects, you can increase the quality, consistency, and efficiency of your output. That means your marketing strategy will be more effective and all the hard work you’ve put in up to this point will not be a waste.