A marketing strategy is a lot like a recipe, helping you make sure you’re successful and on the right track.
Imagine it’s Thanksgiving, and you’re preparing to host 25 people at your home for the big meal. The table is set with your mother’s silver candlesticks, perfectly lettered place cards and the crystal wine goblets that you haven’t busted out since your wedding.
Among the guests are your boss and her husband, your boyfriend’s parents and your perfect cousin that can’t put a bite in her mouth before asking, “Is this organic?”
The stakes couldn’t be higher.
Now imagine that, despite this being your first time to host the turkey dinner, and the massive expense, hours of cleaning and your careful decorating, you decide to toss aside your grandma’s time-tested recipes and go with your gut and just wing it. You’re thinking through your plans:
Stuffing … that’s just chopped bread, right?
Pumpkin pie can be just pureed pumpkin and a few spices in a store-bought shell, and what could be so complicated about roasting a turkey?
A few inexperienced cooks may still be nodding their heads (we had them at pie), but if you’re a seasoned cook, you know that this is a recipe for disaster. Even a lot of self-styled gourmet cooks that attempt this type of approach don’t know what they don’t know, happy in their self-delusion. But good cooks know that cooking with recipes is valuable, and even Martha Stewart-inspired place settings won’t save you from a botched meal because you knew you could wing it.
If you’re hoping for a holiday that’s a little more Norman Rockwell and a little less Clark Griswold, maybe you’re also the type that might like the right recipe for marketing success. You’re in the right place.
A Marketing Strategy Is Essential. It helps you set goals, create objectives to reach them and tools to see whether you were successful. Otherwise, you’re pushing resources and time into efforts with no real promise of resulting in additional revenue. It’s like wasting $30 on a turkey only to dry it out in your oven and pitch the leftovers.
Ready for your recipe for an effective marketing strategy? Try implementing these clear steps, and you’ll be savoring success (it pairs well with turkey and a nice Chardonnay):
Start by Understanding Your Brand: Your brand message is all about what makes you unique and different. If you don’t have a defined understanding of what makes your brand special, you’ll have a hard time convincing your customers why they should choose you over your competitors.
Without brand messaging, you’re forced into marketing solely on promotions and pricing, and that approach doesn’t create loyalty or customer relationships.
Once you know what makes your brand unique and what your values are, you can create your brand message. This message tells your brand story and it will come through in your marketing in a variety of ways: your logo and color scheme, the voice you use in communications and the overall feel and look of your brand.
Understand Your Target Market: You’ve got a great brand, but who is most likely to choose it? That’s your target market. You should become an expert at understanding who they are, what they care about and why they might spend with your company.
This means that you need to explore how your product or service will solve problems or address pain points experienced by your target audience. Are you able to save them time, give them a sense of individuality, organize their closets or help them achieve financial stability? Be ready to define how your brand brings customers value.
Once you establish who’s included in your target market, get to know them well enough that you can divide them into smaller segments. This will be useful for creating highly personalized messages for each segment of your target market.
Determine Your Objectives: What are you trying to achieve in the next few months, and more broadly? Are you interested in building brand recognition? Will you launch a new product line or complete a merger with another company? If you’re trying to grow revenue, what role will your marketing strategy play?
Define Your Metrics: Just as important as setting goals is knowing how you’ll know if they’ve been achieved. If you decide your main goal for the coming months is building brand recognition, how will you know if your investment was a good one? Set measurable goals paired with appropriate metrics so that you can prove the effectiveness of your strategy.
Build Your Content Strategy: Your content strategy is your plan for taking your brand message and communicating it to your target market. You’ll need to explore which channels are ideal for your brand and how you’ll distribute your budget between those channels. You might decide to focus most heavily on social media marketing, with email marketing and podcasts providing multi-channel exposure to your brand, for instance.
Even within your preferred channels, you’ll need to determine a strategy. If you’re focusing on social media, you’ll need to figure out which platform draws the attention of members of your target market, and what times of day they tend to hang out there.
You also need to develop content. From live video to infographics and blogs, content comes in a lot of formats and it’s important to tailor your content to your audience. Maybe they’re more likely to read a blog, but you find that your most successful blogs have an embedded video with a more detailed look at the topic featured.
Review, Refine, Revise: Don’t let your strategy sit and gather dust on an office shelf. Your marketing strategy isn’t a process you and your team sludge through every few years. It should be in constant review and revision phase. Think about it: you don’t want to be spending precious resources on social media marketing if a quick look at analytics tells you that your clever email marketing campaign is what’s getting responses.
With each of these steps, you may be wondering if they’re a bit more complicated, like you’ve just been told to cook Thanksgiving dinner and step one says, “Roast a turkey” and step two says “Bake several pies.” It’s true that each step could be the topic of a lengthy article exploring the intricacies of that part of a marketing strategy.
For a more complete and detailed recipe for marketing strategy success, contact us at SJC Marketing. We’re happy to walk you through the steps of a comprehensive plan, and we would love to share our favorite recipes too!