What goes into a marketing strategy?
Your digital marketing strategy is the backbone of your activity. See the sections that go into a marketing strategy and how they work together.
Every business should have a marketing strategy, no exceptions. Your marketing strategy determines who you’re targeting and how you will reach them. It sets out your marketing goals in terms of what you want to achieve and how you will measure success.
Without a clear strategy, you risk wasting time, energy and money on scattergun activity that doesn’t get real or lasting results. In a previous post, we outlined the 5 main reasons to create a marketing strategy. The post covered questions including:
- Why is a marketing strategy important?
- Why do we need a marketing plan?
- What does an effective marketing strategy look like?
- What’s the role of a strategy in content marketing?
Establishing the role and value of a marketing strategy is the first step to setting one up. The next step is thinking about what to include in your strategy.
What goes into a marketing strategy?
Your marketing strategy should cover your company’s vision and goals. It outlines your values and why you exist as a business. Your strategy sets out market positioning and defines how you present your business to the outside world.
Your target audiences are the next part of the puzzle, along with how your products and services map onto these different audiences. From this information, you can establish the activity needed to target these people and create a marketing plan.
The first step of a creating marketing strategy
Before you get into the detail of your strategy, it helps to look at your business analytics and performance stats. These might include:
- Average order value
- Average order value by sector
- Enquiry conversion rate
- Average gross profit margins year on year
- Average monthly number of enquiries
- Monthly enquiry volumes by source
- Average annual customer value
- Average length of customer relationship
- Cost per acquisition (of a new customer)
- Cost per enquiry
Metrics like these inform your marketing strategy and activity. It’s by no means exhaustive and there may be more relevant metrics to your business. The more you know about your business and its finances, the better prepared you are to spend the marketing budget.
What other information feeds into your marketing strategy?
The performance of previous marketing activity is a useful benchmark. Activity that has previously delivered a return on investment (ROI) should feature in your strategy. For anything that’s proven unsuccessful, you can decide how you’ll do this differently.
External factors are worth considering. Are there political, economic, social, and technological factors that could change the way your business operates, for better or worse? Your marketing strategy is a good place to examine these.
Analysing the strengths and weaknesses of your business, and any opportunities and threats gives you foresight. Acknowledging your weaknesses means you can plan for them, and leaves you better prepared to play to your strengths in your activity.
What does a marketing strategy include?
1. Set objectives
The outset of your marketing strategy should state your objectives and how you will measure the success of your activity.
How much money (including paying for the time of those delivering your activity) is set aside for your marketing budget? What return do you want to see on your activity? How many new enquiries do you need to reach this figure?
Using your figures, you should be able to estimate a goal for the monthly number of new enquiries and orders you want to see. You might have some more general goals around improving the visibility and reputation of your brand.
2. Target markets
Now you know how many enquires you’re aiming for, think about where these potential enquiries are going to come from. Who are your products and services aimed at? What purpose do your products and services serve? Why and how do people buy from you?
3. Your offering
Succinctly lay out your business’s offering and what makes it unique and useful to your audience. You might want to include a value proposition in this section and there should be detail to explain how your business operates and what it delivers to those who engage it.
Imagine someone new had started at your company – you might send them here to read a company overview and get a feel for how the business operates and makes money.
This section explains your different market segments and how they buy from you. Create a diagram depicting each of your product types or service areas and map across the sectors and demographics of people who may pay for these products or services.
Using diagrams to lay out information throughout your strategy makes it easy to digest and scan, providing a simple reference point when you need to look up information.
5. Buyer personas
Here is where you drill down to the individual buyers for each sector and provide context around the people, their drivers, their concerns, and the benefits that appeal to them.
Buyer persona research is useful to your marketing activity as it helps the people researching and producing your activity to understand more about the individuals they are trying to speak to. Create an easy table structure to clearly set out each persona.
The positioning section is a place to explore how and why you are different from other similar businesses in the marketplace. It pulls out the core messaging that will appeal to your audience and helps you define how you stand out from competitors.
7. Competitor research
Conduct some research on your known competition. Look at their offering, size, customer base and marketing activity. Provide some analysis on their strengths and weaknesses, and what they are most known for among your customers.
This information helps you to position what your strengths and weaknesses are in relation to them. By having sight of what competitors are doing in terms of marketing and brand awareness, you know in what areas you need to stand out.
8. Brand messaging
Your messaging matrix diagram lays out the top-level messaging for your company, including a strapline or value proposition and secondary messages. Underneath the top-level messages should be some core messages per target audience.
9. Vision and values
Establish your company vision and values. Whether these are internally facing or external, they should reflect the culture, approach, ethics, and communal goals of your organisation.
10. Activity plan
Your activity plan is where the research in the previous sections comes to life. For each of the different marketing channels, set out what action needs to be taken and what methods you will use to make progress here.
Areas to consider:
Brand Guidelines | Sales Process | Website | Search| PPC | Content | Design | Social Media | Email | Direct | PR | Advertising | Events and Sponsorship | Reviews
Make sure you set out what resource and budget is needed for each area, particularly where additional budget will be needed to run campaigns, for instance, website development, PPC, paid social and event sponsorship packages.
It’s useful to provide some information on why this area is relevant to your business, what results you expect, and what level of activity is needed. Set out what specifically needs to be achieved, for instance, “to establish our brand guidelines, we need to commission a logo redesign and brand development process.”
11. Next steps
There’s a lot to digest within your strategy. Closing the strategy with some next steps help you set out and prioritise the actions that will be taken in the coming months and years.
Your marketing strategy is there to provide a plan and to hold you accountable to delivering it. This isn’t to say everything must happen in the exact order specified. But writing your strategy and defining what needs to happen is the first step to seeing it through.
What should a marketing strategy achieve?
Ultimately, your strategy is a reference guide. It shouldn’t be shelved and looked back on years later. Your strategy is there to provide your team with the research, guidance, and insight to set about marketing and selling your products and services.
Someone who reads your marketing strategy should understand your business, how it operates and who your customers are. When working with external support and agencies, your strategy provides them with the information they need.
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