As you go into a new year, chances are you have all these marketing ideas floating around in your head. It’s good to have plans for a new year, but do they translate into a workable strategy?
A marketing strategy takes those ideas and makes them real. You can’t know if an idea will work until you apply a few test concepts. For example, is it something that will engage your audience? Does the data support the theory?
Ideas are not strategies, and having a marketing strategy in place should be your most critical business resolution for the new year. Now is the time to take those ideas you wrote down and put them to work in a smart business fashion.
What Is a Marketing Strategy?
Just in case the term confuses you, a marketing strategy is a game plan that helps you generate leads and grow your business. If you were coaching football, you wouldn’t send your team in with a bunch of play ideas you wrote down on a bar napkin, right?
Football coaches take those ideas and create a plan to win the game based on a cohesive strategy. A marketing strategy is what will lead your business to a touchdown. Evidence shows that companies with a structured, documented marketing strategy are 538 percent more likely to succeed.
Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan
But you have a plan, right? While that may be true, a marketing plan isn’t the same as a strategy. Instead, a marketing plan is a document that details specific marketing activities based on a set timetable.
A marketing strategy is more significant than that. It is more like an overall plan for the business, not based on a schedule but more on the values and propositions of the brand. The ultimate goal when creating a strategy is to develop a competitive edge by:
- Identifying your goals
- Getting to know your target customer
- Developing a message to give them about the brand
- Defining your budget
- Determining what channels will reach your audience
- Pinpointing ways to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
You can build on your marketing strategy to create your plan.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Marketing Strategy?
A marketing strategy helps you paint the big picture, not just in your mind but for everyone involved with the brand. While you were writing down your marketing ideas on that napkin, so was your partner and every other stakeholder. A marketing strategy puts everyone on the same page – the one that helps the brand flourish.
By giving your brand a clear focus, you funnel those ideas in the same direction. That will improve more than just your marketing efforts. It will help sharpen your competitive advantage because you have that focus. That will help you reach your customers more effectively and understand their needs.
What Makes a Marketing Strategy Successful?
For a marketing plan to be successful, it must be structured around the values and goals of your business. You can’t use a cookie-cutter approach to creating your strategy. It must reflect the business.
There are five essential things you must do when developing your marketing strategy that will help make it successful.
1. Determine Your Marketing Goals and Objective
This is a crucial first step in creating your strategy. You need to create achievable goals and find ways to measure their success. For example, maybe one of your goals for the coming year is expansion.
You can measure that by monitoring your sales and the demographic data of those who buy your products. If you are a local business and people from outside your city are now buying your product, you know you have achieved your goal by expanding your customer base.
Some common marketing goals in strategies include enhancing brand awareness and better social media engagement. You might also want to increase your internet presence.
2. Pinpoint Your Target Audience
This is the golden rule of marketing. You have to know who is most likely to embrace what you have to offer. If you are trying to sell baby diapers to teenagers, you are not reaching the right audience.
This is why you see customer personas in marketing strategies. They give you a chance to visualize the perfect customer. For those diapers, it might be new parents looking for economical ways to care for their newborn. Maybe they just bought a house and are living on a tight budget. If your diapers are more upscale, then you might want to focus on households with a higher earning capacity.
Understanding your target audience takes the guesswork out of developing marketing plans. You know who to write your message for, what channels the best suit your brand, and who to focus on when creating ads.
3. Do Marketing Research
Start by looking at what the competition does. What are they getting right and what seems less successful for them?
Make sure to do your homework on all available media, too. Just because you can do digital marketing doesn’t mean you should completely rule out traditional forms like newspaper or magazine ads. What will your audience respond to most? Some print media might make sense for your brand if you sell to a more senior crowd.
Make sure to look closely at any data you can find. For example, how many seniors use social media as part of their customer-buying journey? How many rely solely on word-of-mouth advertising? In a survey of marketing executives,64 percent of the respondents stated creating a data-driven marketing strategy was essential for success.
4. Build on What You’ve Learned
Take everything you learned in the first three steps and recreate those marketing ideas. What channels should you use? What goals make the most sense for the new year? Finally, you need to align your sales and marketing strategies with what you know about the competition, the targeted buyer, and the current digital environment.
5. Use the Strategy as Part of Your Marketing Plan
You have everything you need to build a solid marketing plan using the strategy as your infrastructure. Put together the marketing ideas to make them cohesive, develop a timeline and create your budget based on what you learn from creating your strategy.
The marketing strategy is where you begin. Then, with your plan in motion, you can monitor the metrics and make tweaks where necessary.
How Does a Marketing Strategy Help Value Deliver To Your Customers?
You know how vital an effective a well-developed marketing strategy is for your brand, but what does it offer your customers?
What Does Providing Value to the Customers Mean?
Providing value to your customers means offering them products and services that make them want to do business with your brand. It takes time, energy, and, of course, money to buy products and order services.
For a customer to find value in what they buy, it means they see the benefits of it. If a business maximizes those benefits for its customers, they develop loyal, long-lasting relationships with them. The customers that talk about your brand, recommend it to others and come back, again and again, to buy what makes your business successful. Your brand’s reputation is built on the value you offer the customer.
How Does an Effective Marketing Strategy Build That Value?
Creating a marketing strategy is one way you improve the customer’s buying process. How can you put your brand front and center for the right customers? Once you have their attention, what ways can you make their decision to buy from you easier? For example, if you offer online buying, will free shipping help to convince them? How about a fast delivery service or variable delivery options?
You also add value by showing the customer the brand’s core beliefs. For example, how do you give back? Do you donate to the community or global groups? What does your mission statement tell them about your brand? Every brand has a personality, just like people do. Marketing is how you show yours to the customer in a way that influences their buying decision.
Finally, the marketing strategy eliminates confusion. If everyone within the company has different values and goals, that confusion can drive even the perfect customer away. Instead, you add value by having a set story that everyone follows. That value will drive your business growth.
Pro Tips for Creating a Marketing Strategy
Developing your marketing strategy is essential, so you need to put some thought into it. Here are some tips we hope will help get you started.
Consider the Four P’s
The four P’s of marketing is a concept that professionals use to understand the client better. The P’s are:
- Product – What are you offering the customers?
- Price – What is it selling for, and how does that relate to the current market
- Place – Where are you selling it? Do you have a brick-and-mortar location, an e-commerce business, or a hybrid selling option?
- Promotion – Where is the marketing promotion? Is it online or in print?
You need to answer these questions so you can create a marketing strategy.
Create Your Marketing Objectives
Your goals for your marketing will influence the direction it takes. So first, write out the channels you will likely use for your marketing campaigns. Now, several goals for each channel. Make sure to keep a few things in mind when designing goals:
- Is it focused? Create targeted goals. A goal like business growth sounds good, but it doesn’t go far enough. How much growth are you aiming for? The more specific you are, the better.
- Is it achievable? Set yourself up for success, not failure.
- Is it measurable? Don’t market on luck alone. Instead, create campaigns that you can measure and plan to change based on the data you get.
- Can you afford it? Make sure to research pricing to see what you can afford and what might be out of your reach this year. Quality is more important than quantity in marketing. You may have to do less to afford something that has a better chance of conversions, You can fill any voids with less costly plans like writing a blog.
If your marketing objectives check all the boxes, you are ready to move forward with your strategy.
Check Out the Competition
You need to see what the other guy is doing right and what they might be doing wrong. You also want to find a way to make your marketing engage customers better. If you don’t find a way to differentiate your brand from theirs, the customers might not know the difference. They may see your ad and buy the other brand’s product without realizing it.
Create an Honest Budget
You don’t want to just fly by the seat of your pants and see how it goes. The more you plan, the better things will work, including the budget. Set a budget for your marketing and stick with it. If things are working well then increase it next year.
If you don’t start with a budget, you may end up spending more than you can afford just trying to meet your goals. It is better to document your expenditures, so you know where every penny goes. Then you can cut the fat and spend more on what is working for you.
Do Regular Updates
Even if you don’t write a new marketing strategy each year, you need to review it and make updates based on the current trends and technology. Otherwise, you may be missing out on opportunities. The digital world is changing all the time.
Finally, know when to hire a professional. Even if you think you can do the marketing yourself, use a professional to create your initial strategy. They will likely have information that you don’t.
Find out more about what our marketing experts at Vinci Digital can offer with a consultation today!