Crafting a well-thought-out and structured marketing strategy can make or break a company's success. It’s critical to clearly articulate your value proposition - communicating why you exist, what differentiates you from competitors, and how customers will benefit from choosing you - but you must also look internally. Are the team job roles and functions correct? Do you have a budget for creating and distributing your messaging? Is the entire company on the same page? Failure to clearly outline this for all may result in missed opportunities and, in the worst-case scenario, missed targets.
So where to begin…
Identifying your objectives
This is one of the biggest and most important parts when it comes to creating a marketing strategy - because these objectives will help guide everything else you do. Yes, improving commercial performance should always be high up the list – but don't forget other ambitions such as building authority, generating customer engagement, or increasing brand awareness.
Know your audience
Every product or service has an ideal customer. Knowing who they are, what their pains, frustrations, or ambitions are, and where they can be found, is vital to building your strategy. Go deeper than the general personas and explore the consumer universe. Looking beyond the obvious to interrogate the unknown will help you gain a richer view and could unearth new possibilities.
Understand your market and competitors
When developing a marketing strategy, understanding your competition is essential. Without it, you run the risk of "shouting into the cave" without getting anywhere. Worse still, you won't be able to tell if you're effectively separating yourself from the competition and grabbing the attention of your target market.
Even if you already know who your competitors are, it's still important to sit down and make a list of them. You might discover a surprise rival vying for the engagement and attention of your target customer.
Refine the P’s
Depending on which model you focus on the number of P’s will vary from four to seven. The four P’s was designed during a time when businesses were more likely to sell products rather than services so in time they were expanded on to create the seven. Ensuring you cover these will be crucial and each play a part in shaping your thinking so should be carefully considered.
The 7 Ps of marketing are Product, Price, Promotion, Place, People, Process and Physical evidence.
Creating your brand message
Once you’ve defined your objectives and the target audience it’s time to build the messaging framework to take to the world. This is your chance to demonstrate to potential customers how and why they will benefit from your product or service and why you are the only business that can offer it. Think about the products or services you offer, how they will positively impact those who use, and what medium you’ll reach your audience on. Put the customer at the heart of the message and make it sing to them. Be brave in the thinking to help stand out and use data and insights to guide.
Build a budget
How and if your messaging reaches your audience could depend on the budget you have to use. Buying advertising, to amplify reach or influence an outcome, could determine the success of your campaigns. Banking on a viral moment on social media will most likely never return results so spending a bit to seed your ideas, creative, content etc. will be key. Build flexibility into your budget and think about how objectives have been set and what the long term needs of the business are. Front loading a budget might be great for some while others will need regular and sustained funds to keep achieving goals. Think about how teams may need support and how media costs may change throughout the budget period.
Identify the channels
It doesn't matter how good your message is if it's not seen by the right people. If you're looking to get heard, tailor your strategies accordingly! Consider creating content on a blog platform – this could be more beneficial for some businesses as opposed to expensive paid advertisements elsewhere. Ultimately, choosing where and how you broadcast should depend upon what fits best with both your business goals and target audience.
Having a strategy in place is one thing but what are the step-by-step actions needed to deliver success. This is where the marketing plan comes in. What audiences are you going to target? What product or service will you promote? What are the timings of your campaigns? How are you going to measure success (both short- and long-term)? The plan or plans will show the business what is needed by when to help deliver all or part of the strategy. Without one the other becomes weak an ineffective so ensure you tackle both.
Measure, learn, improve, repeat
To target your marketing, you need to know whether it is reaching its audience. Determine your metrics and how you’ll judge the success of your marketing efforts will be important to helping refine and improve. Measure all elements you feel will help you to evaluate your thinking and deliver what you set out to do in the plans. Once you have a valid amount of data think about what it’s telling you. Can you improve engagement, lower costs, expand reach, or drive more action? Build the test into the plans and try to achieve the bigger goals over times.
So, there you have it. Developing a marketing strategy is critical for any company looking to expand its market share, reach new audiences, convert more customers, improve loyalty etc etc. By understanding the needs of the customer, the position of the business, and the capabilities of its team via a marketing strategy, businesses are better equipped to serve their customers and build long-term success.