One of the biggest mistakes we see businesses make when it comes to their marketing is launching straight into the tactics without having a marketing strategy in the first place. What are the right keywords to rank for? Should we run a Facebook or Instagram advertising campaign? Should we be publishing 2 or 4 blogs a week? Which publications should our CEO feature in? Should we sponsor this event?
SEO, content, PR, social, paid search, events etc are all fundamental elements of the marketing mix, but they are simply the tools with which to implement an overall strategy. In other words, focusing on tactics without a pre-existing strategy is like throwing something at the wall in the hope something sticks.
Plan first, then execute. Here are our 5 steps to developing a marketing strategy and doing just that:
Identify your goals
The key to any successful marketing activity that generates ROI is having measurable goals in place from the get go. Without goals in place, you are just setting yourself up to do work that doesn’t have an impact. Goals communicate a priority, what you plan to accomplish and ensure accountability.
We follow the SMART framework for setting goals. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
Here are a few examples of SMART marketing goals:
- Increase inbound enquiries by 10% in the next 6 months
- Generate 1000 top of funnel leads in the next 6 months
- Generate 5 qualified leads per month by September 2021
Understand your target audience
There is absolutely no point in launching into any marketing activity without first understanding who you are trying to sell to. Who is your ideal customer? How old are they? What do they do? What do they care about? What are their biggest challenges? Who/what influences their buying behaviour? How do they consume information? What social media platforms are they active on? What publications do they read? Build up a complete profile of your target customer, understand everything about them before doing anything else.
Research your competitors
Once you have understood and built up a picture of your target customer, then it’s time to take a look at the competition. Who are they? How do they market themselves? What do they do well/not so well across their online and offline channels? What is their pricing structure? Use this information to identify your competitive advantage – what sets your business apart from the rest?
Develop your USP and define your messaging
Use the information you have gathered about your customers, your competitors and your competitive advantage and develop your USP. What do you want your business to be known for? Try not to focus on what you do but the benefit you bring. This should then inform all your company messaging across all channels moving forwards.
Map your strategy into a plan
It’s time to turn your strategy into a plan. Refer back to your objectives, as well as all the information you have gathered about your target customers and your refined messaging before deciding which channels to focus on and which marketing tactics to execute. For example, if you are looking to increase inbound enquiries then you are probably looking to invest in a combination of SEO and paid search activity. If you are looking to generate top of funnel leads then you are going to want to look at content marketing activity.
Once you have identified which channels your company should be active on and the tactics you will execute as part of your plan, you need to establish a list of metrics you will measure to track the effectiveness of activity as you progress towards your goal.
Developing your marketing strategy and then turning that strategy into an actionable plan is a time consuming (and sometimes painful!) process, but by investing time in understanding what you are trying to achieve, who you are trying to engage with and how and what you are going to communicate with them is absolutely fundamental to the success of any marketing activity. Don’t just leave it to chance.
Looking for support developing your marketing strategy this year or need help turning it into a plan? Get in touch, we’d love to help.