How to Create a Marketing Strategy that Leads to Growth
As the adage goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. With the economy topsy-turvy, skyrocketing advertising prices, and an increasingly competitive market for businesses, a marketing strategy is more critical for your personal brand than ever. A solid marketing strategy will help you avoid chasing the ‘next big thing’ and instead focus on things that matter—and doing them correctly.
It also lets you leverage data to inform your strategies, allowing you to make marketing decisions based on evidence rather than intuition. This will save you money and enhance the effectiveness of your marketing.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the benefits of a concrete marketing strategy and show you how to create an effective one.
What is a Marketing Strategy?
A marketing strategy is a plan that details your approach to gain a leg-up on the competition in order to achieve your business goals, such as growing your market share.
Although some marketers use marketing strategy and marketing plan interchangeably, they don’t mean the same thing. The strategy lays out your approach to gain a competitive advantage. On the other hand, a marketing plan describes the specific tactics to be employed in order to accomplish that goal — it’s the road map of the marketing journey.
Why You Need a Marketing Strategy
A well-documented marketing strategy boosts chances of success significantly. According to a study by CoSchedule, marketers with a detailed marketing strategy are 414% more likely to report success. Here are the benefits of a solid marketing strategy:
- It helps focus your efforts and resources on marketing campaigns that move you close to achieving your overall business goals.
- It ensures your marketing is consistent and relevant. That way, all the information you put out resonates with the target audience and is recognizable as belonging to your company.
- It ensures team members are on the same page and that everyone knows what to do, how to do it, and when to do it to spur team success.
- It helps track progress and iterate processes to sidestep roadblocks.
How to Put a Marketing Strategy Together
Here’s a step-by-step guide to building a winning marketing strategy:
1. Research Your Target Audience
Seth Godin once said, “When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one.” For your marketing to be effective, start by understanding the people who care about your product or services. In other words, research your target audience and build buyer personas — a fictional representation of your ideal customers.
Some of the things you need to know about your ideal customers include
- Demographics: Age, gender, location, education, and profession
- Lifestyle habits: hobbies, favorite non-work activities, and entertainment preferences
- Psychographics: Personality traits, priorities, beliefs, and values
- Behavior: channel preferences, brand loyalty, and other core shopping habits.
Having audience data at your fingertips comes in handy during the implementation of your strategy. It streamlines segmentation, targeting, and positioning. You’ll need the information to deliver relevant, personalized messages that pique the audience’s interest.
2. Set Specific Goals
Before you build upon a strategy, you have to define your goals. Remember that the marketing strategy is an extension of your overall business strategy. For this reason, your marketing goals should align with the overall business goals.
Marketing goals inform other critical components of the strategy, including the budget and the marketing plan (we’ll discuss both in a bit). They guide your actions and provide benchmarks to track progress.
Marketing strategies backed with specific goals are 377% more successful. Set a goal for each marketing channel and promotional tactic. The goals should adhere to the SMART criteria:
- Specific: The goals should answer who, what, when, and how
- Measurable: Each goal should have a key performance indicator (KPI)
- Achievable: While it’s good to be bold when setting goals, be realistic
- Relevant: the marketing goals should align with your business goals
- Timely: Stipulate the time frame for achieving each goal.
An example of a SMART goal is to get 300 webinar signups in a month. This goal specifies a measurable outcome and clearly defines the timeframe for reaching the goal.
3. Create a Marketing Plan
Once you set the goals, outline what you need to do to achieve those goals. A marketing plan is arguably the most critical component of your strategy. Your success depends on how well you plan and prioritize tasks, projects, and campaigns on your marketing calendar. To get it right:
There are many channels and forms of marketing at your disposal: email marketing, content marketing, social media, print ads, paid advertising, and SEO. How can you reach your target audience most effectively? The answer here should be informed by the audience data you gathered in step one.
Take our previous webinar signup example. You can build a landing page on your website and post social media posts. Similarly, you might want to use video, which is acclaimed as one of the most effective ways to reach your target audience.
Define How to Create Marketing Materials
The goal is to ensure your message is authentic, clear, relevant, and consistent across your chosen channels. Create an editorial calendar, and outline who is responsible for producing what content and when. Moreover, you should set clear guidelines for the tone of voice, branding, and styles.
Plan How to Share Marketing Materials
The content is ready, but how do you put it in front of the target audience? Build a content publishing plan with clear timelines and delivery dates. For example, a blog post should take ten days from the day the writer submits it to the day it goes live. Other things to consider:
- How to promote every piece of content to maximize its potential. Will you rely on SEO or organic search alone?
- How will you use social media to promote blog posts and other marketing materials?
- Is email marketing effective for your campaigns?
Outline How to Measure Success
Define the KPIs and metrics that are relevant to your campaigns. You need to outline how to measure the success of your email, content, social media, and ad campaigns. Your customer acquisition channels and business type will guide you on the most appropriate KPIs, such as
- Site conversions
- Email conversions
- Website visits
- Website traffic sources
- Social reach
4. Set a Budget
You have assembled a Rolls-Royce (in the mold of a marketing plan), but without the wheels, the car won’t move out of the assembly line. The marketing budget is the wheel that brings the strategy out of ideation into actualization.
How much do you need to actualize the marketing ideas? The actions and goals you outlined in the marketing plan will hint at the amount you need to spend. According to a 2019-2020 spending survey, B2B companies in the U.S. and U.K. allocated 10.5% of their revenue to the marketing budget.
Marketing budgets undergo strict scrutiny. In most cases, executives set lofty goals but allocate minimum budgets to achieve the goals. Don’t walk down that route. Instead, allocate enough money and use insights from data to optimize spending and lower acquisition costs to boost the return on investment for your campaigns.
5. Analyze Performance
The channel that’s the backbone of your strategy won’t remain productive forever. As the economy turns and twists and seasons change, things are bound to change — some channels will be less effective while others will grow stronger.
Since you identified the suitable KPIs and metrics to track, it should be easy to derive insights into various factors related to your campaigns. Use these insights to tweak your strategy to create efficiency and maximize value. Likewise, keep an eye out for the new trends in marketing, and don’t be afraid to dip your toes in some that work for your strategies.