Do you want an effective marketing strategy that will help your business to achieve its goals?
In this article, I share top tips to create an effective marketing strategy that will enable you to plan your year ahead and help you to achieve the goals you want.
What Is A Marketing Strategy?
A Marketing Strategy is a plan of action designed to promote and sell a product or service. It is the backbone of your marketing activity to ensure you are sending the right message, to the right people, in the right place.
Why Should I Create A Marketing Strategy?
Having an effective Marketing Strategy helps you to stay focussed on your business goals and shows a clear action plan, with timelines, of how you are going to achieve them and enables you to monitor your progress.
In my experience, there are 12 crucial steps to creating an effective Marketing Strategy, so let’s dive into each of them now.
1. Your Reason
Most people have heard of Simon Sinek’s ‘Golden Circle’ and the same principle should be applied when creating your marketing strategy. How does it work?
Every business knows WHAT they do. This is the product or services you provide. Knowing these inside out is essential to deal with any questions or explanations. A few businesses even know HOW they do it. What it is that makes them different to their competitors. Knowing this can give you the edge on your marketing. Shout about these differences and people will resonate with you. However, the FIRST thing you need to do is to understand your ‘WHY’ in your business. This is something that very few businesses know or even if they do, when they get stuck into the day to day activity, they often forget it. Start from the inner circle and work your way out. What are you passionate about, what is your purpose, why are you doing what you do. Some people may automatically think it is to make money, but this is a result and not the reason. This is where the true inspiration comes from. When you hone your marketing activities around the WHY, this is when the real magic starts. As Simon Sinek says ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it!’. ‘The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have (WHAT). The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe (WHY)’.
To watch Simon Sinek’s TEDx talk where he explains this in more detail, click here:- Simon Sinek – The Golden Circle – TedTalks 2009.
2. Envisage: Create A Long-Term Goal
In order for you to create goals that you will stick to, you need to look at a long term goal that is in line with your WHY. Where you want to be in 5 years? How many customers do you want to have? What revenue do you want to be making? What impact do you want your business to have achieved? What do you want people to be saying about you and your business? Write these goals down. At this point you are not creating an action plan on how to achieve these goals, simply the goals themselves. Writing it down and telling people makes it more real. If you are creative, create a vision board. Seeing it in front of you gives you more accountability and focus.
3. Acknowledge – Take A Snapshot Of Your Business
Have a look at your business as it stands today. You know where you want to be in 5 years and looking at where your business is right now, helps you to understand what actions will be needed to get there. It’s similar to using a Sat Nav for a long journey. You can put a destination in, but if you don’t put the starting point, it won’t be able to direct you.
So, let’s say you want to have 100 customers spending £500 per month. How many customers do you have right now? How much are they spending each month? Also take a look at your social media and see how many followers you have, what engagement you are getting, how many clicks through to your website? How often are you posting? What times? Take a look at all aspects of your business including staff and available training. Once you have your current status, how does this align with your 5 year goal? Is your goal realistic? This doesn’t mean you will necessarily have to change your goal, it may highlight how much work will be required to achieve it, which we will go through in a later step.
4. Detect – Set Up For Success (SWOT Analysis)
SWOT Analysis is a useful technique for understanding your internal Strengths and Weaknesses, and for identifying both the Opportunities open to you and the Threats you face externally. Here is an example of the questions to ask:-
Once you have your business goals in place, you can use the results of the SWOT analysis to establish the areas you can take advantage of as well as actions needed to make improvements to help you achieve your goals. You are not creating your action plan at this stage. Using the long journey analogy, this is not about the towns you will go through (the individual steps to achieve your goal), this is about seeing what provisions you have in your car before you head off and what you are likely to come across on the way.
5. Your Customer – Build Your Ideal Customer Persona
Understanding who your ideal customer is enables you to target your marketing efforts to speak directly to them. Imagine you can only sell your product or service to ONE person. What makes them the ideal customer? Build a customer persona and get as specific as you can with the following questions:-
- What is their name? E.g. Caring Colin
- What is their age?
- What is their job title?
- What is their education level?
- What is their relationship status?
- Do they have children?
- What is their annual income?
- What groups are they involved in?
- What are they passionate about?
- What are their biggest fears?
- What magazines/books do they read?
- Where do they hang out online?
- What questions do they ask?
- What words do they use?
- What websites do they like?
- How do they make buying decisions?
- How can you help them?
When you can answer all these questions, you can use the information to build your strategy, knowing how to speak directly to them in a language they understand. This is where many businesses struggle as they worry that if they get too specific, they scare off other customers that don’t fit the profile and make their message far more generic. The reality is, people need to relate to your message and the best way to do this is to target one person. Those that don’t relate are not your ideal customer anyway!
6. Trace – Understand Your Customers’ Buying Journey
Until you understand your buyers’ journey, you will not know what actions to put in place to add potential customers to the various stages of your sales funnel. Unless you have a well-known brand, very few people know about your business and why you are the solution to their problems, so they are very unlikely to jump straight into the purchase layer. The buying journey will vary, depending on your niche but the 5 main stages are Awareness, Interest, Decision, Action and the often forgotten, Loyalty. Here is a graphic giving a summary.
7. Overall Value – Calculate Your Customer’s Lifetime Value
Understanding the LIFETIME value of your customer is crucial to knowing whether your marketing efforts are successful and ultimately, how much to spend (we will cover this a little more in a later step. Many businesses don’t take into consideration the full income potential when measuring the success of a campaign as they look purely at the monetary value of that particular action. I wrote an article ‘How To Determine Your True Return On Your Marketing Spend’ which looks at this in great detail with examples to show you how you can calculate the TRUE value of your customer and the mistakes that many businesses make when deciphering the results.
8. Surroundings – Carry Out Competitor Analysis
Now you know everything you need to know about your own business and ideal customers, it’s time to check out your competitors. While you were looking into your ideal customer persona, you would’ve found out where they are hanging out and the kind of questions they are asking. You may have noticed another business being mentioned, and often, this is competition that you didn’t know existed. What is the general feeling in the forums about them. How are they dealing with the comments? A great way to do this is to set up Mentions and Google Alerts. This is an activity you should be doing for your own business anyway so add your competitors names to the list. Check out their social media pages. How often are they posting? What kind of posts are achieving great engagement? What articles are they writing. What free downloads are they offering? What does their website look like? This exercise is not about copying what they are doing. It’s about getting an understanding of what is working for them and how you can do it differently and/or better.
9. Plan – Create SMART Goals
The next thing you need to do is think about what it is you want to achieve. The obvious answer that most people think of is ‘more sales’, and you would be right. However, not every activity will give this to you immediately, especially if you are targeting people that don’t even know your business exists as they will enter their buying journey at the very top of the funnel. Careful planning is needed to create goals at every level of the funnel to help people work their way through and reach your final goal of becoming a loyal customer.
Create SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound. Being more specific with an action plan of how you are going to achieve them, the resources required, how you will measure their progress and the date you want to achieve them by, gives you a far greater chance of success.
Specific – Who, What, Where, When, Why – Define the goal as much as possible. WHO is involved, WHAT do I want to achieve, WHERE will it be done, WHY am I doing this (reason/purpose)
Measurable – From & To – How will I track the progress and measure the outcome? How much, how many, how will i know when my goal is accomplished.
Attainable – How – Make sure the goal is not out of reach or below standard performance. You want to stretch yourself but still believe you can accomplish it or the motivation will be lost.
Relevant – Worthwhile – Is each goal consistent with other goals you have established and in line with your purpose?
Timely – When? – Your goal should include a specific timestamp for completion. This will establish a sense of urgency and prompt you to have better time management
10. Engage – Build Sales Funnels
Now you know your goals, ideal customer persona and how your customer’s buying journey works, it’s time to consider how you are going to market to them. Create actions for each level of the buyers’ journey and create content that will help your customer reach the bottom of the funnel. Is it a Free download? maybe a teaser product at a low cost? up-sell capabilities? a free trial to gain trust and give them an initial experience? There are many ways you can help your potential customers through the buying journey to become a loyal advocate for your business.
11. Numbers – Allocate A Suitable Budget
One of the biggest stumbling blocks that small businesses have is allocating a suitable budget to complete the tasks. We would all love to gain new customers for free but let’s get real! If you want to grow your business, you need to invest in it. There is no point deciding that Google Ads is the right direction and only allocating a daily spend of £10 and expecting 100 clicks per day, when the average click cost is £3.00. The maths just don’t add up.
You need to consider everything needed to achieve the goals. This may include training, software requirements, outsourcing costs as well as the costs of any paid advertising. If you don’t allocate a suitable budget for these activities, you will not reach the goals and your marketing strategy will fail.
12. Delivery – Where Will You Concentrate Your Efforts?
What Social Media platforms do you need to be active on. What kind of posts will get their attention? Will you be writing articles or attending events? Will you be spending money on Google Ads? Maybe you will be carrying our surveys or doing email marketing. What message do you want to deliver to them? At this stage, you will start to build an action plan around your business goals that clearly defines EXACTLY what activities you will be doing, with time-bound targets.
Follow the 12 steps above and you will have an effective marketing strategy that is far more likely to achieve your business goals and grow your business, whilst keeping in line with your own ‘Why’.
If you would like to be one of the first to receive your very own copy of the more detailed version in my up and coming book ‘The Ethical Marketer’s Guide – 12 Steps BEFORE You Spend A Penny On Advertising’, then subscribe to the list below and I will be sure to keep you posted on it’s progress .
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This is Suzii, signing out for now. Have a great day everyone!