How to Create an Effective Marketing Strategy
If you want to build a resilient business with the ability to nurture leads in ways that deliver a strong return on investment (ROI) you need a marketing strategy which incorporates the latest and most innovative tactics.
But here’s the catch. Staying up to date with emerging technologies and trends isn’t easy. So, it is also important to ensure that you aren’t falling into the trap of thinking that creating a marketing strategy is a one and done thing. The only way that you will continue to drive results is to deep dive into the effectiveness of your strategy to determine which elements need tweaking to boost your ROI.
If you’re looking for an idea as to what is required in order to develop a robust strategy that works in 2023, you’re in the right place. But let’s start by going over the basics.
What is a marketing strategy?
It may be helpful to think of your marketing strategy as a plan. This plan should be structured and deliver a comprehensive overview of which promotional tactics you are going to use over each of your channels and platforms.
Marketing strategies should be designed to:
– Ensure all team members are on the same page when it comes to key goals
– Align marketing goals with wider business objectives
– Guarantee that content will resonate with an intended audience
– Put you in the best position to jump on board with emerging trends that will further improve ROI
So, it always matters that your strategy clearly sets out the objectives that should be achieved, the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be used to measure success, detailed target audience profiles, and steps that should be taken when creating content to appeal to those target audiences.
New marketing trends are emerging all the time. Just look at how the rise of TikTok has fuelled the demand for short-form video content. So, your success will depend on how well equipped you are to keep up with change and stay relevant in the eyes of your audience.
So, what does a strong marketing strategy actually look like?
To avoid bombarding you, let’s break this down into seven more digestible segments.
1. A Broad Framework
It is always wise to keep the 4 Ps of marketing in mind when starting to think about building a robust marketing strategy. This framework includes:
– Product – what exactly are you offering?
– Price – how much does it cost?
– Place – where will you be selling your products/services
– Promotion – where and how will you promote your offering?
By answering these four questions, you will find yourself with a document containing a great deal of valuable information that you can then start plugging into what will ultimately become a carefully designed marketing and promotional plan.
If you don’t know what you want your marketing strategy to help you achieve, you’re never going to get anywhere. Being specific is crucial here, so I recommend using SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals that are segmented by tactic or channel to ensure you’re getting in as much detail as possible.
Without an understanding of the budget available to you, you’re going to find it impossible to allocate the right percentage of funds towards each element of your strategy. Remember, it’s not always about the size of your budget but rather how you use it to push towards your goals.
Don’t forget, it’s always possible to begin with a small budget which focuses on a few efforts before building up over time as you start to generate a positive return.
By taking time to understand what your competitors are doing, you’ll gain a good overview of which tactics work and which don’t. This process is also critical when it comes to ensuring that you’re offering something different, which is key to attracting attention for the right reasons.
5. Segmentation, targeting and positioning (STP)
STP is a process which is designed to ensure you are always sharing relevant, personalised messaging. It can be surprisingly easy to fall into the trap of creating and sharing messaging without giving proper consideration to ensuring it has been designed to specifically appeal to the right target audience.
With STP in mind, you will:
– Identify a target audience
– Target a segment of that wider target audience
– Shape your messaging to explain what makes you different from other businesses with the needs of that audience segment in mind
Content creation is never a straightforward task, but it’s made much easier by developing a creation framework that will help you to ensure that your content:
– Solves an issue being faced by your audience
– Is entertaining, engaging and shareable
– Leverages emerging trends to maximise visibility
This element of your marketing strategy should also deep dive into which content formats have the ability to drive the best ROI for your business. With the rise of TikTok, short-form video content is set to continue to dominate, however, it’s not the only format that can deliver a solid return for your efforts and investment.
Remember to invest your budget into areas that are more likely to drive a return, which will give you more leeway in the future to explore other avenues to success.
It is impossible to know how well your marketing strategy is performing if you aren’t collecting data and measuring it against a set of KPIs. Don’t forget, KPIs are linked to wider business goals and measure actionable benchmarks in ways that are relevant for cross-team collaboration.
The KPIs you choose to measure will be informed by both your business and the customer acquisition channels you’re targeting but may include:
– Organic traffic
– Cost per acquisition
Marketing strategies are designed to prevent you from throwing ideas at a wall at random in the hope that they will deliver a positive ROI. Although it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that a tactic or two will actually work using this method, it will ultimately end up costing you more time, resources and money in the long run.
So, you’re on board with the potential benefits that a marketing strategy can offer. But how exactly do you go about building one? Keep reading to learn my go-to method.
How to Build a Marketing Strategy
The best marketing strategies are customer-driven, and each of these seven steps are designed to help you develop a strategy that keeps your audience at the forefront at every turn.
1. Create a marketing plan
While they may sound as though they could be the same thing, a marketing plan is actually very different from a marketing strategy. I find it best to view your strategy as a document that details why your marketing team will set goals and use particular resources throughout the year. Your plan, however, should detail the very specific actions that will be taken in order to achieve your strategic objectives.
The great news is that there are a bunch of marketing templates out there that you can use. But I always recommend personalising them to suit the unique facets of your business to ensure that you don’t miss any important details that could impact the overall success of your plan.
As a general rule, the best marketing plans include sections for business initiatives, target market, budget, target channels, and available marketing technology.
2. Build buyer personas
Can you define your audience in a single sentence? If you can’t, you should, and that’s exactly what buyer personas will help you to do. Essentially, a buyer persona provides an overview of your ideal customer and should include a range of psychographic and demographic information such as age, location, income, job title, and interests.
Let’s take the retail store TK Maxx as an example here. One of the brand’s buyer personas may be: A stylish woman in her late-20s living in a suburb and working in a professional environment in a city, who wants to fill her wardrobe with designer pieces at more affordable prices.
Not only is this activity an enjoyable one, but it is also essential to the building of a marketing strategy that actually works. So don’t neglect this step!
3. Set goals
It’s clearly essential to set out the goals you want your marketing strategy to help you achieve, but it’s important to remember that they should have tangible connections to your wider business goals too.
Let’s say that your business is hosting an in-person event in two months’ time. Marketing plays a major role in spreading the word about what the event is, the venue, and why people should come along. So, one of your marketing goals could be to increase attendee registrations by 15% to ensure you’re on track to maximise the number of people who attend your event.
When you understand what you want to achieve, it becomes much easier to determine how tools and tactics can be leveraged to reach those objectives.
4. Choose your tools
There are so many marketing tools out there, each promising to streamline your strategy and measure success. It can be all too easy to go a bit overboard, so I always recommend sticking to the basics.
A tool such as Google Analytics can be invaluable when it comes to gaining a broad understanding of how your campaigns are performing and deep diving into the finer details to really get to grips with how even small tweaks could make a huge difference.
5. Gather materials
You might be surprised at the quantity and variety of existing media that can be incorporated into your marketing strategy moving forwards. This can be a time-consuming process, so I recommend segmenting your assets into three categories:
– Owned media
This category should contain all media, including infographics, eBooks, podcasts, videos, and images, that your marketing team has personally created.
– Earned media
Also known as user-generated content, this category is for all content that mentions your brand, such as Instagram mentions, Tweets, and Facebook posts.
– Paid media
If you’ve spent money on it with the purpose of appealing directly to your target audience, it goes in the paid media category. This is likely to include elements such as your website, social media platforms, and search engine optimisation (SEO). You should also include media that has been used on offline channels, such as billboard ads, direct mailers, and radio ads.
The process of gathering your materials and assets can itself be an inspiring process, as you will quickly think of a variety of different ways you can incorporate them into your tactics to maximise the outcomes of your overall strategic investment.
And don’t be afraid to ditch anything and everything that doesn’t align with your goals. Don’t try and shoehorn them in where they don’t fit. It will be detrimental in the long term.
6. Create a content plan
This is the stage where you need to determine which types of content are going to drive the best outcomes.
I think it’s always worth starting with your owned media and how you can use it to achieve your marketing goals. You can start small by exploring the results of incorporating CTAs (calls to action) at the end of every article you share on your website or dive straight into a bigger project. This should be informed by your budget and available resources.
When it comes to creating content, you need to keep your buyer personas at the forefront of everything you do. One of the simplest ways to do this is to incorporate a section that clearly explains which challenge or problem it is addressing for a buyer persona.
7. Take action
At this point, you’ll have everything you need to clearly visualise the ways in which your strategy should be executed. So, all that’s left is to bring those things together and create a set of clear actions that will bring your plans to fruition.
Adopting a long-term outlook here is really valuable, and most businesses choose to map out a 12 month strategy with a very structured timeline of events. But don’t forget that this is a document that should be fully tailored to your needs.
There are many ways to execute a marketing strategy, which offers a wealth of possibilities for you and your business. Don’t be afraid to think big, but always pay attention to the details because this is often where the most positive change occurs.