A solid marketing strategy is at the root of any successful business. From reaching the right audience and shaping your marketing goals to keeping your advertising consistent, an effective marketing strategy is a blueprint that will guide you on your marketing journey.
Building a marketing strategy from scratch can be challenging for small business owners and marketing managers alike. So, we put this guide together to help you create an effective marketing strategy and demystify the process with an actionable checklist.
What are the Benefits of Having a Marketing Strategy?
Marketing management is a lot like directing a musical performance. As the conductor, you must lead your band from start to finish. To do that, you need a musical composition that will dictate how the song will be played. A marketing strategy is that composition – the sheet music that contains the overall structure of your marketing effort.
Having a marketing strategy will ensure you:
- Advertise to your target audience
- Invest in the proper channels
- Set attainable goals
- Keep a consistent message
- Follow a clear roadmap
Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan: Know the Difference
Marketing strategy and marketing plan are often confused or used interchangeably. However, the two terms do not mean the same thing. And you should know the difference before creating your strategy.
A marketing strategy is an overarching vision that drives your marketing effort. It’s the all-encompassing idea containing all the necessary elements that set your marketing into motion.
A marketing strategy includes:
- Value proposition
- Key messaging
- Data on target customers (your Ideal Customer Profile, or ICP)
- The 4 Ps (Price, Product, Place, and Promotion)
- Company values and mission
- Marketing channels
On the other hand, a marketing plan is specific, time-sensitive, and follows the guidelines set by the marketing strategy.
A marketing plan includes:
- Campaign timeframe
- Campaign goals
- Content types
- Assigned teams
Creating a solid marketing strategy before developing your marketing plan is essential. Yet, your business cannot afford to have one and not the other. You must have both to increase your chances of outperforming the competition.
How to Create a Successful Marketing Strategy
We put together a list of seven steps to help you create your marketing strategy. It will allow you to develop big-picture thinking.
1. Define Your Goals
You must define your marketing goals, whether you want to increase website traffic, gain social media followers, drive more clicks from social ads, or grow an email list.
One way to set clear goals is to work on your value proposition. It’s one of the pillars of your business model and lies at the core of your marketing.
Ask yourself a) what your company stands for, b) how it operates, and c) why customers should choose it over the competition. Having a clear statement that answers these three questions will clarify your central message and allow you to stay in line with your business’ global idea.
2. Internal Analysis
In business, like in life, we’re often fixated on what goes on around us. But we frequently forget what’s most important: understanding ourselves. Before analyzing the competition, look within your company.
Perform a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to place your company under the microscope.
- Strengths: your company’s unique features and benefits
- Weaknesses: areas where your company is lacking
- Opportunities – research market gaps and see how your company can fill them
- Threats – uncover possible shifts in demand, new technology, and government rules that could affect your business in the future
This analysis will help you determine where your business stands in your industry and help you with the next step in this list.
3. Identify Your Target Customer
As is commonly understood, “if you sell to everyone, you sell to no one.” Whether you run a B2B or B2C company, customers are at the heart of everything you do – they’re the reason why you’ve entered the market and will be the ones that lead you to success. That being the case, you must know what makes your prospects tick before you can start selling to them.
At this point, the focus isn’t to determine how you will sell to your prospects. Instead, you want to know who they are and what they struggle with. Dive deep into their pain points and discover why your services/products will make their lives easier.
4. The Four Ps
Now that you understand your prospects, it’s time to turn towards your competition. Use the four Ps to analyze companies that are most similar to yours.
- Product: know the features and benefits of your competition’s services/products
- Price: compare all prices and determine the lowest, highest, and average price
- Place: understand where the products/services are sold/manufactured
- Promotion: find out how competing brands are advertising
You can compare your list of four Ps to the SWOT analysis (step 2) you ran earlier to see where you stand against the competition.
5. Get Smart
You can refine your goals now that you know more about your company, customers, and competition. Use a S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) approach.
For example, if your main goal is to increase website traffic and gain more social media followers, a S.M.A.R.T goal might look like this:
Increase organic website traffic by 12% and gain 250 followers by the end of the quarter.
6. Select Your Media Channels
The method you use to reach your prospects will depend on your business and ideal customers. You’ll want to know where they hang out and which way is most suitable to reach and convert them.
Some common marketing channels are:
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
- Online advertisement
- Social media
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- PPC ads
7. Build a Marketing Plan
A successful marketing plan is a detailed roadmap that explicitly explains how your teams will reach your prospects. You’ll need to display:
- Your objectives
- Timeframes for marketing activities
- Content channels
- Types of teams
- Decide key KPIs to monitors
Lastly, your marketing plan isn’t complete unless you have a clear budget. Using the right tool for the job is essential for your success.
A powerful marketing resource management (MRM) tool will help you with every aspect of your marketing campaigns. Marmind’s Budget Management Software can help you manage your marketing campaigns from start to finish.
Because marketing is a central element of any business, having an effective marketing strategy isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. Once you craft your marketing strategy, you have the master plan to guide your marketing effort from beginning to end.