So often something forgotten or neglected, this is the importance of developing a marketing strategy…
Whilst the term marketing strategy may fill you with dread, and feel like an arduous task taking far too many man hours, pots of coffee, and disagreements around the table to achieve very little, having a coherent and extensive marketing strategy can mean the difference between a successful year, and a mediocre one.
What is a marketing strategy?
In its most basic form, a marketing strategy is a plan of action created in order to successfully promote and sell a service or product. But, in reality, it’s much more than this.
An effective marketing strategy is:
A flexible document – no matter how thorough you are or how many people are involved, there’ll always be something you’ve missed or a new opportunity that arises, mid-implementation; a marketing strategy should always be used as a flexible, working document that can be amended and updated as your business develops.
A way of identifying your ideal audience – any marketing strategy should first consider who your ideal customer is; from there, you can work out how best to get in front of them and to talk to them – what channels you can use, what messaging would be most appropriate, and even what photos/graphics would be most effective. If your ideal customers are women between the ages of 45 & 65, you probably won’t want to use images of 18 year old college students, for example.
A place to smooth out the bumps and fill in the gaps – whilst you may think you have the best idea for a new product or service for the coming year, and whilst you may be super excited for it and want to just run with it, pausing to create a comprehensive marketing strategy around it will help you identify all the things that could go wrong; the stumbling blocks you may face, and solutions you could implement in order to ensure it all runs super smoothly, as well as help you order your thoughts.
A space to figure out whether it’ll all be worth it – the last thing you want to do is jump into something, spend copious amounts of money and man hours, and discover that what you’re doing is making a loss… a great marketing strategy allows you the time and space to figure out your ROI; how much you can spend, on exactly what & where, and how much that will then generate you. Never do anything without a clear sight of ROI.
What should a marketing strategy include?
A marketing strategy should be any business’ best friend, and should always be treated like your very own business bible – laying out everything you need to ensure your marketing is successful.
A marketing strategy should always include:
- Marketing goals (what do you want to achieve?)
- Market research (audience, current sales & consumer patterns, competitor analysis)
- Identification of channels and publications (specific newspapers, websites, blogs, social media, landing pages for your website etc.)
- Budget, prices & ROI (what’s your overall ideal spend, what will specific advertising streams cost, and how much will you make?)
- Messaging & assets (what do you want to say, and how will you say it? Press releases, case studies, baseline content; images & graphics)
- Dates & allocations (who’s doing what, by when?)
- SWOT analysis
What if you don’t have a marketing strategy?
If you choose not to create a marketing strategy before you launch a new product or service, and prefer to just delve straight in at the deep end, and hope for the best – whether that be because you feel you don’t have the time or you’re confident in the strength of your offering – you run a huge risk of a multitude of things going wrong.
A marketing strategy is so much more than simply a dusty old document that your team creates that then gets archived and never sees the light of day. A marketing strategy should be used as a tool to support you to achieve your business goals; whether they be increasing sales & enquiries, improving brand awareness or selling a specific product.
Without a marketing strategy, any number of things could happen (or not happen!), such as:
- Advertising in the wrong publications or failing to advertise at all
- Talking to the wrong audiences
- Producing and releasing mixed & confusing messages
- Little to no return on investment (ROI)
Which will inevitably lead to a decline in brand reputation, unnecessary spend, and nothing to show for it.
In short, the birth of a new product or service as part of your business should always mean the birth of a new marketing strategy…
If you’d like help developing your own comprehensive marketing strategy, contact us today.