Every business should have a marketing strategy, no exceptions
Marketing results don’t just happen by chance. Creating a strategy ensures you’re targeting the right people, with relevant content that appeals to them. The more time you spend creating a clear strategy, the more opportunities you create to sell.
Why is a marketing strategy important?
Put simply, a marketing strategy sets out your business goals, including who your ideal customers are and how you intend to reach them. It’s your plan of action and the blueprint to the marketing activity you will do in the coming months and years to grow your business.
Why do we need a marketing plan?
You need a plan because it gives you something consistent to work from and holds you accountable. What you need to do might be in your head, but writing and defining your strategy commits you to delivering it. It gives you something to show the people involved in your marketing activity to help them understand your business and its audience.
So, what does an effective marketing strategy look like?
It’s a structured document outlining your business’s purpose, aims and what makes it different from the rest. It sets out who your customers are and why they engage with your products and services. Your strategy provides a clear framework for reaching this target audience, including details on planned activity and the relevant methods of communication.
A strategy might include:
- Company vision and objectives
- Target audience and personas
- Positioning within the marketplace
- Multi-channel activity plan (website, social media, PPC etc.)
- Timeline for implementation
Read our blog ‘What goes into a marketing strategy?‘ for more information on this.
The role of a strategy in content marketing
Creating online content for your audience is one of the most powerful ways to reach new customers. Businesses of every kind, from local artisans to huge corporates, create useful content such as how to guides, video demonstrations and tips articles. This content helps them be found in searches and on social media by people relevant to them.
Content marketing is a waste of time unless you have a strategy. Your strategy determines your target personas, where and how they consume content, what words and phrases they search for, and which types of content they prefer. Without researching these variables, your content may miss the mark. Given that content marketing is time consuming and costly to produce, you want to execute it properly!
Now, if you’re still not convinced now’s the time to get your marketing strategy done and dusted, we’re here to tell you why it is. Read on and discover 5 compelling reasons to create a marketing strategy.
Reason #1: Speak directly to your target audience
Every business knows how to talk about their products and services, and bang on about how great they are! Unfortunately, that’s not what your audience wants to hear. They want to know what problems you can solve for them and how your products will make their life easier.
To tell them this, you have to first understand what’s going on in their world. And this information is contained within your marketing strategy. Accurate buyer personas are one of the most important features of a strategy, and within marketing more generally. Pinning down your audience and learning how to communicate with them directly will increase the likelihood of selling to them.
Reason #2: Stop spending money in the wrong places
When you don’t have a clear plan in place, it’s tempting to just spend a little here and there on one-off campaigns. It’s the ‘let’s give it a go and see what happens’ approach to marketing. And more often than not, it’s a complete waste of time and money.
Successful marketing is about building up a recognisable, trusted brand. It’s about consistent, regular communications that get your messages heard. Throwing money at a magazine advertisement one month and an email campaign the next is not going to get these results.
Having a defined marketing strategy prevents wasted efforts. It makes sure your budget is planned and allocated effectively. Each campaign is aligned with your overall objectives and designed to get results in both the short and long term.
Reason #3: Keep your activity consistent and relevant
From your strapline, to the hashtags you use on twitter, every piece of information you publish should be immediately recognisable as belonging alongside your brand. It should also be relevant and interesting to your customers and prospects.
With a marketing strategy, this is achievable. Because you’ve outlined your audience and what concerns them, you know exactly how to engage with them and on which platforms.
Let’s say you create an email aimed at a particular buyer persona. Your strategy tell yous which pain-points and benefits to focus on, making sure the subject line, headings, copy, images, and call to action buttons are relevant. This, in turn, keeps your activity consistent.
Reason #4: Set objectives and measure ROI
When there’s no clear direction, we end up floundering. And this is a typical outcome of non-strategic marketing activity. You might see some result here and there, but if you haven’t set any clear goals, how can you measure your return on investment?
Focus activity on a set of defined objectives. For instance, you might decide you want to grow a following on Twitter or Instagram. Perhaps you want to use e-marketing to cross-sell to current customers. Or maybe you want to reach the first page of the search results for your key terms. Whatever your goals, writing them into your strategy is the first step towards achieving them.
Reason #5: It’s a reference point
With multiple channels to consider (web, social, paid, search etc.) and various target personas to reach, there’s plenty to factor into your marketing plan. And no-one should be expected to keep this information in their head! That’s where your strategy comes in.
For new employees or the people tasked with producing your marketing outputs, the strategy document forms the basis of their knowledge. It’s a point of reference; an in-depth guide; and it provides the initial building blocks of all your activity.
Equally, if the sales department or another team approach you with an idea for a campaign, you can reference your strategy to check whether it’s relevant. If it doesn’t line up, then you have the means to explain why the idea isn’t worthwhile.
Please, stop leaving lead generation chance!
If your company doesn’t have a defined marketing strategy, you may still see some results. However, these are likely to be sporadic and could dry up if the industry changes or a new competitor comes to market. Instead, you should be proactively bringing new leads into the business through regular marketing activity. It’s the only way to build your brand and protect it from external factors.
Equally, if you have a strategy but it is very old, or your business or market has undergone significant change since its creation, it’s most likely redundant. It’s important to revisit your marketing strategy every couple of years to make sure you’re still headed in the right direction.
How to make a marketing strategy
It’s entirely possible to create your own marketing strategy. The list of sections we mentioned above are a useful starting point. There are also lots of useful templates online and advice from digital marketing though leaders – the Hubspot blog is our recommended resource.
But, the process is made more productive by working with a marketing expert or digital agency. They guide you through the process, asking the difficult questions and taking an impartial look at your business. Strategy experts supplement the information you provide with market research and their experience of other business like yours. Rather than struggling with the detail on your own, you have a team to do the work.