Building a strong marketing strategy lies at the foundation of any prospering, competitive business.
As terms can sometimes get mixed up, let’s firstly clarify what a marketing strategy is. It refers to an organization’s overall game plan for attracting customers by communicating the benefits of their business and key differentiators.
It’s the big picture of the company’s vision informing the marketing plan, which address the vital question: what tactics are you going to use to meet your goals and bring your strategy to life?
To help you build an excellent action plan, you firstly need to ensure you’ve ticked all boxes when devising the marketing strategy, so we’ve put together a list of seven handy action points to pay attention to when conducting your research.
Run a SWOT analysis
Start by running a SWOT analysis to identify your business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
It’s actually a fun team exercise, vital to your planning process as it shall inform in one way or another all the following key steps outlined below. To avoid bias and cover different perspectives, get as many fellow colleagues to contribute as possible.
Having a clear view on what you’re best at, what areas you need to improve on, spotting the external factors that represent the motivation for your business to exist or, on the other hand, factors that have the potential to place your business at risk, will equip you with the right tools to build a well-informed marketing strategy.
Figure out the value proposition
A great marketing strategy derives from a company’s value proposition, which encapsulates its main strengths (identified in the SWOT analysis) and differentiators against competitors, as opposed to being created from scratch.
Determining your value proposition is probably the step you should invest most time and resources into, as it is one of the most important conversion factors and what could make the difference between closing a sale and losing it.
Get started by identifying the main customer benefits and what value your products/services bring to the customer, followed by outlining the key differentiators.
The best value propositions are clear, to the point, and they focus on solving customers’ problems.
Determine marketing strategy objectives
Organizations define and and communicate their goals using objectives.
Objectives specify measurable outcomes that will be achieved within a particular time frame and they help individuals evaluate the success and effectiveness of a particular marketing strategy.
They aid marketers to align expectations and plans, coordinate efforts, and hold teams accountable for achieving results.
When putting together your key objectives (aim for 3-5), ensure they meet the following criteria: they’re specific, measurable, and have a time frame.
Re-evaluate them every six months, make changes if necessary, and use them to measure success.
Understand your customers
In order to embed your customers’ needs and seek to solve their problems through your marketing strategy, you firstly need to fully understand them.
In the marketing space, there’s been lots of buzz on customer centricity, a strategy to fundamentally align a company’s products and services with the wants and needs of its most valuable customers.
In their quest of getting to know them, marketers have started to rely less on traditional market research methods such as surveys or focus groups and pay more attention to smart online platforms and tools that tell them everything about their customers’ demographics, online behaviors, and conversations.
Define your buyer personas
Buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help marketers better understand and get closer to customers, as real humans.
The process of creating buyer personas involves gathering insight from different platforms such as website analytics, social media channels, customer reviews as well as actual conversations with prospects and customers.
When researching and building personas, look into their background, preferences, demographics details, and based on that, determine what’s the most appropriate way to communicate with them, what channels they prefer, style and tone of voice, etc.
Analyze your market and competitors
We’ve established that a clever marketing strategy is a business’ game plan which helps them flourish and stand out from competition.
But to get to that level, you need to have expert knowledge into what’s happening in your market and how are you competitors doing: what are their struggles? What’s working for them? Which are their weak links?
Once again, information is power. Use intelligent platforms, like Brandwatch, to answer all questions above and learn about your competition.
Keeping your ears and eyes open for what’s happening in your industry is vital in helping you identify gaps in the market, needs that aren’t being fulfilled, common frustrations, or trends and innovative .
Establish your marketing methods
Depending on your target audience, you will need to pick the best marketing methods to explain, teach, and communicate your brand messaging.
Find out where your audience lives (which social channels they prefer, blogs, sites, forums, etc.) and use that information to your advantage to reach them.
It’s equally important to determine at an early stage which marketing areas you’ll focus on attention on and how much time and budget you’ll be spending on advertising, PR, content marketing, SEO, community management, events, etc. depending on the nature of your business and what would appeal most to your future customers.