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WTS: What The Strategy

By: Machielle Thomas | 12 Feb 2017

“Strategy without process is a little more than a wish list.” Robert Filek

Everyone knows and understands the need for a business plan, but have you forgotten about your marketing strategy? A marketing strategy is a comprehensive portion of your marketing plan that outlines your marketing goals.

This strategic plan combines facts and objectives, actionable goals, and reflection. Don’t get caught up in fancy templates or pages worth of processes, instead use bullet points and notes to get started.

These 6 simple steps will put you on your way to understanding and accomplishing your marketing strategy.

1. Create a starting analysis

Write out your current business analysis including your product, your industry, and your opportunities. What are your challenges? What are your goals? In order to understand your strengths and weaknesses, consider what is positively and negatively affecting your ROI. Out of your offerings, what gives you a competitive advantage?

When considering new opportunities, think about what new markets may become available in your industry that you can capitalize on. Is there a new publication that caters to your industry? Think about how this can affect your growth potential over the next year.

2. Understand your target audience

Operating a business without a clearly defined target audience is a bit like throwing money out of a window. The simplest way to understanding your target audience is to pose the question, ‘What problem do we solve for our customer?’. If you are selling wrinkle cream, then you can see that you are providing a solution for the problem, wrinkles. Now ask yourself, who purchases wrinkle cream? While, this answer may seem simple, market research may be necessary in order to gain accurate insights.

Knowing your audience will provide understanding on where you should market your product. After your research you should also be able to decide the best times to advertise and the message that will have the most impact on your customer.

3. List out marketing goals

Your marketing goals should mimic your company goals. They are simply written statements that you hope to achieve from your marketing. While revenue is usually top-of-mind for most companies, it is also imperative to remember brand exposure. Your brand must be unique and engaging in order to be successful.

Goals can be qualitative or quantitative, but should remain measurable. If your goal is 15% growth, write it down and create a plan of action. Qualitative goals can range from brand awareness to an increased net promoter score (NPS). Make them measurable so that you can track successes and/or failures.

4. Write an action plan

This is the most paramount section of your strategy. A good plan will outline all of the stages of your sales cycle. Look at your cold prospects and find ways to reach out by utilizing direct marketing campaigns, advertising, and public relation efforts. Your warm market prospects, people who have been introduced to your brand in the past, respond better to email and loyalty programs. Prospects that are on the brink of closing a sale, should get direct attention via email and phone.

Focus on a plan that promotes your message when your target audience is more likely to pay attention. If you offer B2B sales, Facebook may not be the place to engage in a sales transaction. Likewise, if your service is geared towards consumers, perhaps LinkedIn would not make good use of your marketing efforts.

5. Budget

Having a marketing budget is not optional. The path to success for your business lies in the hands of your marketing department. Your marketing budget should be a percentage of your projected gross revenue. Even with a tight budget, there is still great potential for growth. Your budget is not strictly the amount you will spend on advertising, it is also the price you pay for your resources (software and people). Your yearly budget should be aligned with how much growth you are anticipating and how quickly.

6. Review, analyze, and revise

It may help if you look at your marketing strategy as an ongoing process rather than a set-in-stone plan. As you review your successes and failures, you will surely have to tweak your strategy in order to meet your goals. Analyze the data from each campaign to see if there should be any changes. Use testing methodology to decide which parts work and which could use an overhaul.

Review and revise your strategy regularly instead of waiting until the end of a period to make changes. The earlier you catch your pitfalls, the sooner you can update and change your budget to move funds into the right places.

Is your strategy making the cut? Tell us what you are doing to strategize better this year!