5 Steps to Creating a Successful Marketing Strategy
One of the most critical aspects of marketing a business is planning. Devising a solid marketing strategy for your brand’s marketing is key to the success of your online business. In the following post, we discuss what a marketing strategy is and offer you a five-step approach to creating one for your business.
If you’re looking for help in devising a marketing strategy for your online brand, contact our team at BuzzBrand.
What is a marketing strategy?
A marketing strategy is a clearly defined guide or game plan that will steer the marketing efforts of the business.
Developing a marketing strategy entails research, testing, objective setting and financial planning. Essentially a guide or playbook, the marketing strategy instructs the business and its team on how to actively seek out customers, grab their attention and entice them to make a purchase.
Developing a successful marketing strategy involves several aspects. It must:
- Satisfy the needs of your target market,
- Maintain a competitive edge,
- Is objective-driven,
- Focus on the correct channels of communication, and
- Operate in line with your marketing budget toward profit.
If you decide to not create a marketing strategy, you could run the risk of running advertising campaigns without direction, promoting an inconsistent message and missing out on potential consumer segments to name a few. All of these scenarios will likely result in a loss of money and resources.
The key to a well-marketed business is the ability to bring in a long term strategy. The steps below outline the process of developing a marketing strategy.
How to Develop a Marketing Strategy
Developing a marketing strategy may take time, but time spent in the planning phase of a business is seldom lost. An extremely valuable exercise, here are five steps involved in creating a marketing strategy.
Step 1: Identify your consumers
First things first, you need to segment the market and find your ideal target customer. Even if you have an idea as to who your ideal consumer is, carry out thorough research to be certain. Having a clear picture of who you are selling to will keep your brand message and communication strategy focussed.
There are a number of ways to identify your target audience.
A good place to start is to create a customer persona. A profile of your customer, this fictitious being takes the form of the ideal person you’d like to sell to. While creating the persona, ascribe qualities and features to the person such as their age, where they live, their interests, profession and their motivations for purchasing.
Once you have created a persona or number of personas, you’re able to connect with real people that fit the profile and test whether they would, in fact, be potential consumer segments.
At this stage, it’s time for qualitative research. You could create interviews or send out surveys to ask a sample group questions about your brand. Once you have refined your target audience, you can move onto the next step, assessing your competitors.
Step 2: Research your competitors
Another key aspect for developing your marketing strategy is to know who your competitors are. In today’s day and age, there are bound to be competitors in your industry, regardless of how niche your business may be.
Researching your competitors can bring you actionable insights. Not only can you investigate the systems that they’re employing on various channels, but you could also tap into new opportunities. Keeping abreast of your competitor’s movements is great because you’re able to see what they are doing, and improve on their implementation.
If you haven’t already identified key competitors, start with a simple online search. Enter the product or service you are offering. You’ll quickly see brands in the field that are likely your competitors.
When executing competitor research, you can:
- Visit their website and compare their web and blog content.
- Assess their social media channels from content to interactions.
- Sign up for their newsletters to examine their email marketing strategies.
- Analyse their keywords and SEO structure either using a tool such as SEMrush, SEO Meta in One Click, Moz’s Open Site Explorer or similar.
- Purchase a product or service and immerse yourself in the full experience of their brand’s purchase process, tracking, product packaging (if any) and post-purchase support and marketing campaigns.
Once you have identified your competitors, you’ll need to rank them and compare them against certain variables. With this, you’ll be able to determine who your Primary, Secondary and Tertiary competitors are.
Step 3: Set SMART objectives
Once you have generated valuable insights into your audience and competition, it’s time to lay down the foundation of your brand strategy.
The key to strategic brand building is to be really specific about your business objectives. To do this, your objectives must be SMART.
SMART is an acronym that stands for:
- Specific: Make sure your objectives are crystal clear and have a distinct focus.
- Measurable: Make sure your objectives can be tracked or measured to evaluate their effectiveness.
- Actionable: Make sure your objectives are realistic and attainable, shoot for the moon with your vision/BHAG planning, not your strategic goal setting.
- Relevant: Make sure that your objectives are in line with your brand identity, values and brand strategy.
- Timeous: Make sure your goals include a variable of time such as a due date.
By getting serious about your goals, keeping them laser-focused, realistic, on-brand and time-based will make sure that you and your entire team have clear paths to follow.
An example of SMART objectives would be:
- To increase brand awareness on social media channels by 25% in 6 months.
- To grow an email list by 10 000 subscribers in 6 months.
Step 4: Select your marketing channels
Now that you have selected your audience, refined your competitive edge and have set your marketing goals, the next step is to choose your marketing channels.
In today’s modern day online marketing mix, there are a plethora of channels that you can select from to build up your marketing mix. Marketing channels could include traditional advertising channels such as radio, print, television, or more contemporary forms of advertising such as content marketing, social media marketing etc.
A good idea is to select a blend of channels that will target various phases of your sales cycle. For example, you may consider using more traditional approaches such as business directory ads to advertise to cold leads (consumers who have had no exposure to your brand), then reinforce your message with social content and email marketing to consumers who are potentially in the purchase stage.
When deciding which marketing channels to opt for, let your research drive your selection. Don’t try to advertise on all channels simply because they’re available, instead opt for a selection of channels – relevant to your objectives and audience – and perfect your message at these contact points.
Step 5: Determine your marketing budget
Before you begin actively communicating at your selection of marketing channels, consider the finances behind your marketing strategy. If you have created a business plan, it’ll come in handy as the financial projections will give you an indication of forecasted sales for the first periods of operation. A certain percentage of each year’s earnings will need to be allocated to your marketing budget.
When creating your marketing budget, you’ll need to take everything into account. From the cost of content creation, stock photography purchases, ad spend, subscriptions to tools or software, the costs can add up. If you don’t take the time to gather these costs, you may start running at a loss.
The great thing about strategic planning and creating a marketing budget before you begin advertising is that you can play around and adjust the channels and investment therein until you have created a marketing mix that is affordable for where you are in the stage of your business.
Once you have moved through each of the steps above, you’ll be able to weave insights together to form action. With a finalised marketing strategy, you can start putting together your communication strategy and advertising your products or services.
Remember that each and every contact point must promote a consistent brand message. If you need help in creating your brand identity and marketing strategy, contact BuzzBrand for assistance. Our team of professional marketers will help you devise the best marketing strategy for your brand!
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