Hang on. Wait a minute. Don't get excited just yet. A marketing strategy isn't something you can just dive into and get right in a single day.
Your strategy should be formulated in a way that closely aligns with your business goals. So don't start planning until you've got a clear understanding of what your business strives to achieve in the long term.
Start by defining (as succinctly as possible) your business' mission statement, accurately describing your services, identifying your buyer personas and where your business currently stands against competitors.
Oh, and let's get one thing straight: a marketing strategy is not the same as a marketing plan – but you do need both.
Marketing strategy: Your marketing strategy is determined by the core reason for your organisation's existence. What is the product, service and message you have set out to deliver? How are you going to deliver it?
Marketing plan: What campaigns and marketing tactics are you going to deploy in order to reach your business goals?
To help you understand the difference between a marketing strategy and a marketing plan, here is an illustration of how the two would interact in a hypothetical situation:
Business: Tracy's Organic Baby Food
Business goal: See a £20,000 profit by the end of the financial year.
Marketing strategy: Grow the consumer base, particularly focusing on the segment of new mums returning to work.
Marketing plan: Launch a content campaign, sharing quick, entertaining and informative videos with tips on parenting from working mums.
Now that we've discussed these two principles, let's take a look at how you would formulate their different components and how you could make them work closely together to reach your business goals.
Research and analyse
You may be breaking some new ground with your product or service, but the likelihood is, you are entering an existing industry with companies who are either already established or well-positioned to give you a run for your money.
Investigating the playing field, studying your competitors and identifying their strengths and weaknesses will help you to formulate a winning strategy that capitalises on the opportunities you may be uniquely positioned for.
In order to succeed, you not only need to differentiate yourself from other businesses, but you have to specialise in what you do. So, use this opportunity to figure out how to streamline and concentrate your efforts in a way that will make you sought after as an industry leader.
Identify your buyer personas
Using the market research you have conducted above, you are now prepared to start formulating a clear idea of who your ideal buyer persona will be – this is the semi-fictional representation of a customer who shows a specific set of characteristics and qualities that make them a perfect candidate for purchasing your product or service.
You need to know who your buyer personas are because your campaigns and the approach you take with your marketing content will be tailored for these folks to consume. There's no point dishing out salad for a cat unless you've identified this as a very peculiar, unique cat with special dietary requirements.
Establishing your SMART goals
For most businesses, the primary goal is to turn a profit and see a return on investment (ROI). At first, your main priority may just be to stay afloat, but you won't achieve any kind of success without being very specific about the goals and targets that will help to make your business viable. So, don't just think short term.
With inbound marketing, your goals should always be:
At this stage, it's all about aligning your goals, developing and sharpening your buyer personas, auditing your existing marketing efforts and setting realistic key performance indicators in accordance with the budget you are able to commit to. Delegate tasks to the teams responsible for actioning them or decide whether you will outsource certain activities to agencies and marketing specialists.
At this point, you will start to work the marketing plan into the marketing strategy. Your digital marketing team will get to work creating content assets such as:
- Landing pages
- Content offers
- Banner ads (for example, Google Display Network)
- Email workflows
- Google Ads campaigns
- Social ads (Paid)
Reporting and optimising
In a continuously shifting economy, no business can presume that establishing a long term marketing strategy will keep them safe from the changing tide. So yes, even though it's imperative that you have a robust marketing strategy, you also have to allow for flexibility and optimisation when unforeseen circumstances occur, or it may be necessary to adjust and tweak certain aspects of your strategy that may not have worked out as you'd predicted.
Testing out the success of your tactics will help you to establish whether you are moving in the right direction. It's essential to involve key stakeholders in regular meetings to keep them up to date with the progress you are making. Through your collaborative efforts, you can ensure that your marketing plan continues to align with the SMART goals you set out with at the start and that you are on course to meet your targets.
As a digital marketing agency, we understand that each client defines success differently. We can help your business tackle the pain points that limit you from reaching your targets by helping you formulate your own unique marketing strategy and supporting you through the implementation. To find out the 6 keys to planning a digital marketing strategy download our guide below.