Preparation is paramount.
There’s a famous quote from Abraham Lincoln floating around on the web. It says: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
In other words, if you want to get something done right, then you need to have all the right solutions and tools in place to facilitate success. Whether you’re chopping up lumber or building a new brand, there’s nothing more powerful than a good strategy.
Your marketing strategy is the compass guiding every connection you make with your target audience. After all, this isn’t “Field of Dreams,” you can’t just build a business, and expect people to line up for the chance to give you their money. If you want committed, loyal customers, then you need to get out there and find them.
Unfortunately, studies show that most companies are letting the strategic side of their marketing campaigns fall by the wayside. 46% of brands don’t have a defined marketing strategy yet.
If you’re one of those firms, then you could find that your lack of planning leads to directionless campaigns, underwhelming results, and even an inconsistent reputation.
The good news?
We’re here to help. By the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll know how to create a marketing strategy that cures your communication woes completely.
Proper planning 101: What is a marketing strategy?
First things first.
You can’t figure out how to develop a marketing strategy if you don’t know what you’re building in the first place. If you don’t have a marketing agency to do the hard work for you, then you’re going to need to start by asking yourself, “what is a marketing strategy?”
In simple terms, marketing strategies are the sections in your business plan outlining how you will attract and find customers. Think of it this way; you’d never hire a builder who didn’t have blueprints to tell them how they’re going to construct your project, which materials they’re going to use, and how long it’s going to take. In the same way, you shouldn’t start marketing until you know which steps you need to take to get the best return on investment from your advertising budget.
Before you can begin creating a marketing strategy, you’ll need to do some homework. In other words, you have to know how your product or service benefits other people, where it fits in the marketplace, and which channels you’re going to use to connect with your preferred audience. Additionally, your marketing strategy should also include a close insight into the “P’s” of your marketing mix:
Product: What do you sell, and what are the unique features of your product? How does it differ from what your competitors offer?
Price: What does your product or service cost, and how does it compare to your competition?
Place: Where will your products and services be available?
Promotion: How are you going to let the market know about your offering?
People: Which team members are involved in your promotional methods, what kind of customers are you reaching out to?
The easiest way to define a marketing strategy is to think of it as the high-level guide dictating your marketing activities. Your marketing strategy is not the same as your marketing plan. Whereas a strategy is an explanation of the goals you want to achieve, the assets you have, a marketing plan dictates how you’re going to reach your goals and measure success.
Creating a marketing strategy: Different marketing techniques
Now, you don’t need to be a marketing expert to know that there’s more than one kind of marketing strategy out there. For instance, you can invest in a B2B marketing agency or a team that helps you connect with everyday consumers. You can focus your marketing efforts online or concentrate on joining the digital revolution by developing an online presence.
The key to successfully creating a marketing strategy that works for your organisation is figuring out which marketing techniques and methods you need to invest in. To help you get started, here are just 5 marketing strategy examples that the team at Fabrik uses to create result-focused solutions:
1. Fundamental marketing (brand awareness)
A fundamental or foundational marketing strategy refers to a plan of creating the base assets you need to support future marketing campaigns. Importantly, a marketing “campaign” isn’t the same as a marketing strategy. Campaigns have specific short-term goals, whereas marketing strategies are more like long-term guidelines on how to communicate with your audience.
A foundational marketing strategy is one of the first things you’ll create when you start building your brand. It’s how you plan to make people aware of your company and what it offers at a basic level. Fundamental marketing includes:
Creating a website with a blog calendar for digital marketing.
Using paid media or PPC ads on Google to push your website to the top of the search results pages.
Designing logos, graphics, literature, and other visual representations of your brand.
Launching social media pages where you can begin to develop an identity and strengthen connections with your audience.
2. Relationship-based (executional) marketing (brand loyalty)
Relationship-based marketing or executional marketing refers to any marketing strategy examples you might use to build deeper connections with your target audience. This form of advertising has become increasingly popular in recent years, as clients from all backgrounds want to feel they can trust the brands that they work with. Anything you do to keep your customer connected to your brand or product is executional marketing. For instance:
Social media marketing: Social media is a critical part of building brand affinity today, as it helps customers take part in ongoing conversations with their favourite brands. The key to success is choosing the right platforms to reach your audience.
Email marketing: Still one of the most popular ways to keep any brand top of mind, email marketing allows you to share offers and insights with your customers instantly, using segmentation to personalise messages.
Content marketing: Blogs, guides, videos, podcasts, and other forms of content are perfect for developing long-standing relationships with your audience and reminding them of your value.
3. Authority marketing (gaining credibility)
As well as building strong relationships with their target audiences, today’s companies also need to demonstrate that they have authority in their space. The more powerful your brand reputation, the more likely your audience are to trust whatever you’re trying to promote. There are plenty of ways that companies can build their marketing strategies to strengthen and sustain credibility. For instance:
Thought-leadership marketing: Thought leadership marketing can come in the form of content marketing, writing case studies, participating in Q&A sessions, or even launching interviews online.
Word of mouth marketing: One of the most powerful marketing techniques in the world, word of mouth marketing should be a component of any strong marketing strategy. It’s the best way to convince your audience that you can deliver on your brand promises.
Earned media marketing: Earned media marketing refers to the publicity or exposure you get from your word-of-mouth marketing, SEO, or shared content. It can include social media testimonials, newspaper articles, and press releases.
4. Innovative marketing (being disruptive)
Creating a marketing strategy that works doesn’t always mean sticking to the best practices you see elsewhere. Sometimes, the best thing you can do to make your business stand out is to be disruptive. Innovative marketing techniques are the forward thinking and unique approaches that companies take to separate themselves from the norm. Remember to choose innovative campaigns that fit with your existing brand communication strategy. This might include:
Viral marketing: Creating viral videos, podcasts, or blogs designed around trending topics or shareable content.
Guerrilla or exponential marketing: Learning how to develop a marketing strategy doesn’t mean committing to spending all your time online. Interacting with people through unique offline experiences can be just as powerful.
Cause marketing: Brands with strong connections to local communities and charities can partner with these organisations to strengthen their reputation and pave the way for exciting marketing campaigns.
How to develop a marketing strategy: Start with research
One of the reasons why companies have so much trouble learning how to create a marketing strategy is that they start experimenting with marketing techniques and campaigns before they’ve built a foundation with research. If you want to formulate a marketing strategy that you can track, measure and optimise, then you need to do your homework.
Look at it this way, if you don’t know what you’re selling, who you’re selling it too, or the environment that you’re trying to succeed in, then you’re going to struggle. Bring together everyone who needs to be involved with your marketing strategy, and take the following steps:
1. Create your audience personas
The days of aimlessly reaching out to anyone and everyone with your marketing techniques are long-gone. It’s no longer enough to look at your target audience en masse; you need to know exactly who you’re reaching out to. This means creating user personas that you can refer to whenever you’re creating new messages or content for your marketing strategy.
Your personas help you to visualise who you’re marketing to, so that you can make focused decisions based on what you know about your audience, rather than what you think they need. The more information you can include in your user personas, the easier it will be to make decisions like:
What kind of marketing techniques do you need to use? Social media, content marketing, email, or experiential?
Where you should be focusing your attention: Offline, online or both? Local or national marketing? Are you a global brand, or a small business?
Which pain points you need to address: How can you convince your customer that they need to buy from you? What are they looking for? What do they like and dislike?
You might need multiple buyer personas depending on the size and scope of your business. Remember, the key is to personalise your message to suit the audience you’re connecting with. Don’t try to be everything to everyone.
2. Get to know the competition
Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. If you want to know how to develop a marketing strategy that blows all other businesses in your niche out of the water, then you’re going to need a competitive analysis.
Analysing the competition not only gives you inspiration for how you can reach out to a similar customer base, but it also highlights the things that other brands are doing wrong that you might be able to improve on. The more you understand your competitors, their strengths, and their flaws, the more you can differentiate yourself from them. Here are a few ways you can get a feel for the competition, and figure out what you’re up against:
Subscribe to competitor email lists, and social media feeds. Check out their blogs, find out how they connect with their customers, and what kind of language they use.
Use social listening tools to determine where your competitors have the best conversations with their customers.
Try keyword tools and digital analytics to find out which words your competitors are ranking for in the search engines.
3. Perform a SWOT analysis of your brand
Finally, once you’re sure that you understand your customers and your competitors, it’s time to learn as much as you can about your own brand. No matter whether you consider yourself to be an expert on your company or not, a SWOT analysis can help you to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, so you can develop goals designed to take you towards your brand visions and missions.
A SWOT analysis also helps you to see what makes you different from your competition, and where you need to position yourself in your niche. Remember, it’s important to be brutally honest here, and make sure that you get as much information as possible into each section.
As well as creating a SWOT analysis for your overall marketing strategy, it may be helpful to conduct similar evaluations for each marketing plan you create, or campaign. For instance, before you launch a social media marketing plan, ask yourself what your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are for each channel you plan on using.
How to create a marketing strategy that works: 4 key steps
Congratulations, you’ve successfully completed your homework!
Now, it’s time to get down to the meat of your marketing strategy. A company that offers marketing strategy services can help to simplify this process for you, by giving you the templates and guidelines you need to answer every question about your plans and campaigns.
However, whether you’re working with an agency or not, the average marketing strategy will include the following steps:
Step 1: Work on your #Goals
Goals are one of the most important parts of any marketing strategy. Once you’ve completed the research section above, you should have a pretty good idea of your weaknesses, strengths, and areas of opportunity. Setting realistic and measurable goals around these findings will help to give you a clear path toward your vision.
Remember, marketing strategy goals need to be obtainable, but they should still be a challenge. For instance, don’t just tell yourself you want to improve brand engagement by 5% by the end of the year, crank it up to 20%, and make sure you have tools in place to help you measure that engagement in the form of likes, comments, shares, and retweets. When creating a marketing strategy:
Set goals based on your current position in the market and what you know you can realistically achieve.
Tie your goals to your overall business mission.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many goals at once.
Create timely milestones to make your targets more attainable.
Step 2: Know what makes you unique
Competition is crazy in the current marketing environment. If you want to make the right impression on your target market, then you need to show them that you have something special to offer. The best marketing strategy examples place a significant amount of focus on the brand’s “USP,” and how you can market that USP to place yourself ahead of the competition.
Do you have an incredible customer service experience that people just can’t help but rave about? If so, use earned media to maximise your marketing campaigns, and think about adding referral strategies to your marketing mix. If you’re an innovative brand with one of the most unique products in your niche, concentrate your marketing strategy on showing your authority through interviews and demonstrations.
When you define your marketing strategy based on your value proposition, you find ways to constantly remind your customers of whatever it is that makes you special. That’s what great marketing is all about. Remember, good value propositions are clear, concise, and focused on solving customer problems.
Step 3: Know your customer’s buying cycle
The best marketing strategies come from companies who understand the concept of the sales funnel. According to most digital marketing and inbound advertising experts, there are 3 steps to consider in the buyer journey: Awareness, consideration, and decision.
The more you know about the different steps that customers take from the moment they learn about your brand, to the second they decide to make a purchase, the easier it will be to create marketing strategies that work. For instance, during the “awareness” stage of the buying funnel, you might focus on foundational strategies like a website or blog to grab your customer’s interest. During the “Consideration” stage, you’ll want to showcase your authority and start building a relationship with your customers through earned media and social strategies.
Step 4: Choose your marketing techniques based on your brand identity
Finally, when you’re learning how to create a marketing strategy, it’s tempting to get carried away with the latest campaigns and techniques. When you see other companies in your industry leveraging great results from trending concepts like influencer marketing, it’s easy to assume that you can achieve similar outcomes.
However, the truth is that every business and every brand is different. While you might expect to see a sophisticated banking company investing a lot of time and effort into building their credibility through interviews and thought leadership, you’re less likely to see them sharing viral blogs. Make sure that your marketing techniques fit with the image you’re trying to create.
At the same time, ensure that your brand identity remains consistent throughout every channel you use. Your over-arching marketing strategy should include details to guide future marketing plans, for instance:
What tone of voice should you use?
When and how do you need to use your logo?
Which colours, and imagery resonate best with your brand, and how can you use them in your marketing mix?
Ready to refine your marketing approach?
Ultimately, while your marketing strategy is an important component in building your brand, remember that it’s just a guide. Nobody can predict the future, which means that creating a marketing strategy isn’t a one-time event.
Your strategic guidelines should be a living, dynamic document that evolves over time. It’s not an employee handbook or policy campaign – it’s a reference that you can return to with every marketing plan and adjust as necessary. A marketing strategy that’s left to collect dust is useless. What’s useful, is a strategy that allows for flexibility, transformation, and constant learning.
Remember to frequently measure the success of each of your marketing plans and use what you learn to adapt your overarching marketing and brand strategy accordingly. As your business grows, the methods you use to connect with your customers will gradually become more refined, innovative and effective.
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