Imagine you walk into work tomorrow morning and your boss announces that you’re required to bail out on all your marketing activities. Instead, you’ll put on a blindfold, throw a few darts and see where they land on a target filled with trendy ideas for promoting your brand. Would there really be any difference from how you’re doing things now? Maybe you have a marketing strategy, but all it really amounts to is a game of blindfolded darts.
Okay, don’t get offended just yet. You probably have some great marketing ideas, like that Instagram contest you decided to run because you heard it was lighting up the social scene for one of your industry partners. The problem is that while you had a great time getting creative and setting up a fun contest, it was over three weeks ago and you don’t really have any idea whether it engaged new potential customers. In fact, before you started the contest, you didn’t even check out whether your target audience hangs out on Instagram. Um … oops. How’s that blindfold fitting?
Graduate to Stratego
If you just realized you’ve been hurling sharp objects with a blindfold on, or in reality, tossing money around randomly and seeing what produces ROI, it’s time to give up darts. You need something a little more advanced, and that requires a little strategy. If you’ve ever been beaten by a nine-year-old master at Stratego who invites you to play the game like it’s any old round of Connect 4, it’s a pretty good analogy for someone who’s engaging in marketing activities without a strategy. You’re about to get destroyed. Even the nine-year-old knows that entering a strategic game without a strategy will lead to disaster.
A marketing strategy begins with a deep understanding of your target market and a compelling brand message that effectively differentiates your product or service from that of your competitors. Sounds relatively easy, right?
It’s not easy, but the good news is that it’s a lot of fun. Take a look at the following steps that offer some clarity on developing an effective marketing strategy:
Know Your Target Market: Determine the consumers most likely to purchase your product or service. You need to do some digging to find out more about them: gender, age, occupation, hobbies and more. You need to know the types of content they prefer and where they like it delivered. They might be email devotees, or they may be more the social media type.
Even once you think you’ve identified your target market, you need to drill down further to segment that audience. Develop buyer personas that represent each type of member in your target audience. Think about what they wear, the music they listen to, the needs that they may have and how that connects with your product or service. This information allows you to personalize your messages, rather than sending out broad information that is less narrowly targeted. You may have heard that if a message works for everyone, it’s not that powerful for anyone.
Know Yourself: What makes your brand unique? You need a well-developed brand identity that tells a compelling story about what makes you special.
This part of the process also involves getting honest with yourself about your current situation. You need to do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to determine your position in your market, as well as measuring how your marketing efforts have performed thus far. Maybe you do a mailer every fall to announce a promotion, for instance, but you aren’t sure that any of your sales have resulted from that mailer.
Part of this process is understanding your competitors. You won’t want to mimic their marketing strategy, but it’s a good idea to pick up some insights about where your target audience spends their time when they hang out on social media, what types of messages competitors are successfully using to engage contacts and the overall look of your competitors. You’ll want to develop your own brand, so watch for indications that your messaging, colors or voice are looking or sounding familiar.
Be a SMARTy Pants: Set goals for every technique you decide to use in your marketing strategy. If you’re launching a blog, determine what your goal is for that blog and then make sure you’re checking to see if the blog is generating new traffic on your social profiles and your website. If you do an email newsletter, determine whether you’re using it to build community around your brand or if you’re trying to boost a product promotion.
The point is that your goals for your marketing strategy should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely (also known as SMART goals). Don’t create any marketing strategy action items that aren’t clearly framed by a SMART goal.
Analyze This: You say you’re ready to ditch the blindfold and take down the dartboard, but analytics are often where companies get scared away from pursuing a successful marketing strategy. Does Google Analytics spook you just a bit? Seems odd for a guy comfortable with blindfolded darts, but okay.
Not only can you access Google Analytics, but social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer insights that can help you tailor your posts and create better engagement with your target audience. You can find out whether posts are directing traffic to your website and Google Analytics can help you find out if your landing page is where leads tend to bail out.
Testing, Testing… : If you set up a contact form on your website, make sure it automatically sends the email you think it’s sending. If a visitor fills out a contact form to get access to a white paper, but then they get a “thanks for your purchase” email instead, they’re not sticking around. You’ve already lost them.
That dart game isn’t just threatening your growth plans. For heaven’s sake, your hair looks terrible.
If you want a good marketing strategy (and to look good executing it), contact us at SJC Marketing. We’ve mastered strategy and we have fun doing it. Doesn’t that sound a little more exciting (and a lot less dangerous) than what you’re currently doing? Give us a call today and let’s get started on your strategy.