If you want to succeed in a fast-paced marketing world, it’s important to stay ahead of the game and understand how to appeal to your target market. As part of this, you’ll need to know how to create an effective marketing strategy.
This guide explains everything you need to know about creating a marketing strategy for your business.
What is a marketing strategy?
A marketing strategy is a detailed and structured overview of how a business or organisation will reach, convert and retain new customers. A clear marketing strategy will define measurable goals and outline the target market, audience profiles, competitors and value for customers. It will provide a long-term vision for overall marketing efforts.
Why do I need one?
There are many reasons why it’s important for your business to create a marketing strategy. Without one, you’ll be reducing how effective your promotional and sales activity will be.
Some of the reasons for have a marketing strategy are outlined below:
Insights into your target audience
Creating a marketing strategy can help you to connect with your target audience, which is absolutely crucial if you want to succeed. As well as identifying who your customers are and what they want from your company, you’ll also be able to understand the different ways of being able to reach them.
Data driven decision making
When you create a marketing strategy you can better analyse data which can help you make key decisions.
Analysing company data will enable you to devise better marketing strategies and make decisions that benefit both the company and the customer. By having access to vast amounts of information, you’ll be able to enhance customer-brand engagement and increase ROI.
Consistency is crucial when you’re trying to build your brand and attract new customers. Creating a marketing strategy will help ensure your brand messaging and visuals tie in with your overall business identity across each channel. It should mean that every piece of information you publish is immediately recognisable as belonging to your brand.
Having a marketing strategy will also help you set goals. For example, these might be based on metrics such as ROI, engagement or conversion rate.
Once these are in place, you can measure how well your business is progressing and how likely you are to achieve your goals. You’ll also be able to refine and improve your marketing where necessary.
It serves as a guide
Having a marketing strategy in place gives you clear guidelines on how to engage with customers. It enables you to better understand buyer personas and pain points, and understand how to reach customers more effectively.
A marketing strategy is a point of reference and means that new employees, as well as existing staff, can refer to these guidelines whenever they need to market your product or services.
How to create an effective marketing strategy
To create an effective marketing strategy, there are a number of steps to follow. The exact steps can vary depending on the type of organisation you run, but to help get you started, take a look at the below:
Create buyer personas
A buyer persona is simply a snapshot of your ideal customer. In other words, it’s the type of customer you’re looking to target with your product or service. It’s important to have a clear understanding of who this is, so if you haven’t yet narrowed it down, now’s the time to do so.
Think about factors such as their age, income, type of job they have, interests and location. Consider what their needs are and how you can meet these more effectively than your competitors. Understanding more about your ideal customer can help you to better assess how to appeal to them. In turn, this will help you to make your marketing more targeted and relevant, which can boost your chances of success.
Outline your goals
Next, think about your marketing strategy goals which need to tie in with your overall business goals. For example, if you want to achieve a certain amount in revenue, you might choose a marketing strategy goal of adding 2,000 new subscribers to your newsletter list by the end of the year.
Other marketing goals can include increasing brand awareness or generating high-quality leads. Make sure you fully understand what you want to achieve and the steps you need to take to get there. Remember, too, that these should be SMART goals.
SMART stands for:
- Specific – make your goals specific for more effective planning.
- Measurable – define what evidence will prove you’re making progress.
- Achievable – make sure you can reasonably accomplish your goal.
- Relevant – goals should align with your values and long-term objectives.
- Timely – set a realistic and ambitious end date.
Acquire software and tools
Once you’ve decided on your goals, you need to assess whether you have the right tools to measure the success of those goals.
For example, you might use Google Analytics to help measure blog and web page performance, or you might use online software such as social media management tool Hootsuite, to help you monitor the success of marketing campaigns and track what your audience likes.
Meanwhile, tools like Trello can help your team track progress and communicate easily about the projects they’re working on, while SEMrush lets you run SEO audits, as well as build and measure an effective social media strategy and content plan.
Ultimately, you will need to use these tools to assess and improve your marketing strategy.
Review your digital footprint
You’ll also need to think about what media you are already using to help create your strategy. As part of this, consider whether you currently use any of the following:
- Paid media – this is content you pay to place in front of an audience and includes paid search (PPC) and banner ads, as well as social media adverts. It also includes offline traditional channels such as print and TV or direct mail.
- Owned media – this includes any of the media owned by the brand. Online, it includes your website, blog, mobile apps or your social presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on. Offline, it can include brochures or stores.
- Earned media – this involves any content where other people are talking about you, whether that’s PR, influencers, reviews of your product or business, or fans who share your content on their own social media accounts.
You then need to consolidate what you already have and consider how you can integrate it all to help boost your strategy. For example, if you post a weekly blog on your website (owned media), you could pay to advertise this (paid media) and see if anyone shares it on their social media (earned media).
Audit existing campaigns to plan ahead
Once you’ve carried out the above steps, you can start to think about the types of content that will help you the most. Look at your owned media and marketing goals and consider what steps to take. For example, could you add a call to action (CTA) at the end of each piece of content to encourage newsletter registrations? You can then use marketing analytics to highlight what’s driving your subscription rate.
You’ll also need to look at your buyer personas and ask what their biggest challenge is. For example, if you run an online tutoring company and one of your persona’s pain points is being able to study effectively, you could create a short video to share on social media that offers tips on how to study better.
Additionally, you will need a content creation plan that outlines the goals, format and channel for each piece of content you have. Each time, you should include the challenge it’s solving for your customers.
Implement your plan
The next step is to assign actions to your plans and create a document to show the steps you need to take to get things off the ground. You need to know which individuals or teams will be executing each part of your strategy and when each goal needs to have been completed by. Assign who is responsible for each type of content, whether that’s videos, blog posts, TV advertising or other promotional material.
Don’t just think about the short-term – you ideally want to have a structured timeline spanning 12 months.
The key to a successful marketing strategy is flexibility. If your strategy is too rigid, it can prevent you from responding to an ever-changing market.
Changes in consumer behaviour or new competitive offerings can render any good marketing strategy useless. But if your marketing strategy allows you to respond to problems, take advantage of new opportunities and change your messaging due to fluctuating market conditions, you’re far more likely to experience success.
One way to do this is to learn to expect the unexpected so that you can plan for last minute changes. Also consider creating two or three strategies to help you reach each goal in case one of your plans becomes irrelevant.
As an example, let’s say you’re about to promote a particular product feature unique to your brand, but a competitor then launches a similar product. If you’ve planned ahead, you can simply pivot your strategy quickly – perhaps by offering a free gift with every purchase or focusing on your company’s excellent customer service.
The more quickly you can adapt and make decisions, the more success you’re likely to achieve.
If you are looking to ramp up your marketing strategy, consider a business loan to expand your capacity.