A marketing strategy is your highest level of marketing planning, an overall plan that will help guide your marketing plans and campaigns. It includes your company’s value proposition, target customer demographic data, key messaging, and more. Using that information, your marketing strategy should combine all aspects of your customer’s journey and look into each department to show you the resources that you have available and the best way to use them. The goal is to generate sales and increase competitive advantage.
Repeatability and Scalability of Your Marketing Strategy
Marketing strategies should be repeatable so you can use your strategy as a framework or outline. You may need to make quarterly or annual changes, but you will not have to reinvent your strategy. Repeatability is also important to keep things consistent across departments and campaigns, strengthening your brand.
Scalability is another important thing to consider. You want your marketing strategy to be easily transferable between employees, teams, departments, and divisions. This way, each group isn’t struggling to create their own strategy when one is already in place. It will also help with consistency, making sure everyone is on the same page.
Starting with Your Target Audience
You want to make sure that you understand your target audience before beginning any marketing planning or activities. Your target audience will impact many (if not all) of your marketing decisions. The more defined your target audience is, the better. A more defined audience will help you hone in on that audience when making decisions about price, messaging, channels, and more.
Planning Your Goals and Objectives
Once you know who you are targeting, it is time to outline your goals and objectives. These goals and objectives need to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound). This will help you know where you are at any given point in time within the scope of your goals and objectives.
Do the Research
A PEST analysis includes looking at the external environment in relation to your company and brand. The analysis includes a look into political factors, economic factors, social factors, and technological factors. This will help you understand market trends and conditions and identify any expected constraints on your strategy.
A SWOT analysis can help you identify potential growth areas or areas to avoid. A deep dive into your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats can be used for marketing projects, sales campaigns, new business cases, seeking new opportunities, and revamping your brand. Pairing up your opportunities and strengths can help show you what opportunities would be best to pursue.
A competitor analysis help by pointing out current and future threats of other companies. The competitor analysis looks at various factors and highlights the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. You can then use this information to compare your competition to your own company. Competitor analysis will also help you gain an understanding of the market and what it will take to succeed.
Marketing Strategy Budget
Your marketing budget is an important area in your marketing strategy. Many of the marketing activities you will use come with a cost, so you need to be able to control the expenses. Your budget will help you outline how much money you have to spend; so that you aren’t spending too much money on marketing activities. Once you have a limit, you can look at the best way to allocate these funds. Traditional advertising, content creation, branding and designing, PR and media outreach, and digital advertising are all marketing avenues you should consider during your budgeting process. If you have in-house content creators that can help save some money in that area, you may be able to allocate more to digital advertising.
Building Your Brand
A brand is made up of many things. Your company logo, design, value, all marketing materials and images, messaging on your website or storefront, communication with customers, how employees feel about your company, how your customers feel about your company, your strategies, and more are all comprised to create your brand.
Brand positioning helps you create market differentiation, makes it easier for people to buy from you, enables you to compete on value, and justifies pricing strategies. Finding the best position for your brand, amongst your competition, is what makes customers choose your product over other similar ones.
Your brand identity is made up of what your brand says, what your brand values are, how you communicate your product, and how your brand and your product make your customers feel. You want to create good and lasting impressions that will bring customers back to your brand.
A strong brand image can provide an increase in customer recognition, an increase in competitive edge, the ability to easily introduce new products, and improved customer loyalty and retention. Your brand image comes from customer experiences and interactions and reputation.
Your brand voice is your tone, personality, and emotion in business communications. It is best to have a clear brand voice, keeping communications consistent and personable. Other than that, your brand voice can be professional, empowering, fun, quirky, or whatever you want it to be.
Last but not least, brand personality is communicated through tone of voice, visuals, policies, how you treat your employees, and more. This is how your brand would dress, speak, and behave if it were a person. Having a strong brand personality will help your customers relate to your brand, especially when they share the same traits and personality.
The Marketing Mix
Whether you choose to use Borden’s 12 elements, the 4 Ps, or the 7 Ps, your marketing mix is a very important part of your marketing strategy. This is where you outline the facts of what you are planning to do. This will act as a useful guide as you continue to plan your marketing strategy.
Borden’s variable elements were product planning, pricing, branding, channels of distribution, personal selling, advertising, promotions, packaging, display, servicing, physical handling, and fact-finding/analysis. Jerome McCarthy reduced the 12 elements into 4, the 4 Ps of the marketing mix. This new mix includes only product, place, price, and promotion. However, most or all of the original 12 elements can be categorized into one of the new elements. Finally, Booms & Bitner added a few more elements to the list, creating the 7 Ps of the marketing mix. The added elements were physical evidence, people, and process.
There are various channels that you can use to reach your customers. At this point, you should have enough information to know which channels, or mix of channels, will work to help you reach your goals and objectives. Digital marketing, email, mobile, social media, content marketing, and SEO are all great channels to choose from. There is also paid advertising, display, search, re-marketing, native advertising, push notifications, traditional marketing, print media, broadcast, direct mail, and referral to consider.
Automation is something to consider during your marketing strategy planning. It reduces the work of the marketing team by streamlining your email marketing campaigns, social media scheduling, online advertising, and more. There are many benefits of automation and many companies to choose from, but don’t forget that any expenses will go against your marketing budget.
Once you have made the sale, it is time to shift our focus onto customer retention. This means bringing customers back for repeat purchases, continuing their subscriptions, or upgrading their services. It is helpful here to calculate your customer retention rate and your cost to bring in new customers. This will help you get a better idea of how much money you save by retaining customers. Retaining current customers also helps increase your profitability and encourages customer referrals.
Analyzing Performance and Reevaluating Your Marketing Strategy
Once you have completed the planning and put your plan into action, the last step in the process is to analyze performance and reevaluate your plan. You need to look at metrics that will help you define success, based on the goals and objectives you outlined. Some of these metrics are sales revenue, cost per conversion, audience behaviors, form conversion rates, social media reach, customer retention rates, and repeat sales. Once you have evaluated your plan for success or failure, it is time to reevaluate based on what you’ve learned. Most companies do this every quarter or year, so you should have plenty of data to incorporate into any revisions. This last step is continuous and is just as important as the plan itself.