Without a marketing strategy in place, companies risk losing time, money and resources to random acts of marketing that will not produce results.
What is a Marketing Strategy & Why Does it Matter?
A marketing strategy is a comprehensive framework for achieving a company’s goals by understanding the needs of its customers and creating a distinct and sustainable competitive advantage.
Developing a marketing strategy enables a business to articulate its overall value proposition to its customers. It outlines the business’ goals, its target market, buyer personas, competitors and value for customers. It is a long-term vision for overall marketing efforts.
How to Create a Marketing Strategy in 8 Steps
Step #1: Outline Your Business Goals
Business goals are typically outlined in the Business Strategy. However, if you do not already have clear goals set, use this as your first step in creating your marketing strategy.
Simply put, business goals are goals that a business anticipates accomplishing in a set period of time. Business goals can take many different forms and be aspirational or motivational, such as driving an organization toward a certain objective like improved customer service.
Examples of business goals:
- Goal #1: Increase the total income of your company by 10% over the next two years.
- Goal #2: Increase your company’s share in its market by building strong referral partnerships in 2024.
- Goal #3: Increase customer retention by 25% year-over-year.
Create three business goals for your business. Having too many business goals can result in overwhelm, too many competing priorities and a lack of results.
Step #2: Outline Your Marketing Goals
Marketing goals are the measurable outcomes that you want to achieve by way of your marketing initiatives. It’s imperative that your marketing goals be aligned with your business goals; otherwise, they will be arbitrary goals.
The examples below are aligned with the business goal examples above.
Examples of marketing goals:
- Goal #1: Create a new offer with a 35% profit margin within the next 6 months.
- Goal #2: Develop a referral partner program by the end of year.
- Goal #3: Build a customer loyalty program to roll out in Q1 of next year.
Create three marketing goals for your business that are aligned with your three business goals.
Step #3: Conduct a Market Analysis
A market analysis is a thorough assessment of a market within a specific industry.
This assessment should include a general overview of the market, the opportunities within the market (and the trends you can take advantage of), as well as any challenges and potential impacts that could affect it negatively (e.g. a pandemic, a recession, etc.).
Conducting a market analysis allows you to reduce the risk for your business and better inform your business decisions.
Step #4: Identify Your Target Market
A target market is the specific group of people you want to reach with your marketing message. They are the people who are most likely to buy your products or services, and they are united by some common characteristics, like pain points/challenges, demographics and behaviors.
Depending on your business model, you may have multiple target markets, and it’s important to outline each of these, if that is the case.
Start by identifying your primary target market. From there, outline their major pain points. Once you’ve completed that, you can start building your buyer persona. Do this for each target market segment.
Step #5: Research Your Competitors
Conducting a competitive analysis is important for any business. Without understanding your competitors, their offers and how they market their businesses, there’s a good chance you’re missing opportunities in the market.
When researching your competitors, take note of the following:
- The products/services they offer
- Pricing, as well as any perks they offer
- How they market their products
- Their content strategy (are they blogging? creating videos? etc.)
- Social media presence, strategies, and go-to platforms
You can keep track of your competitors using a spreadsheet. This way you can see their information side-by-side, in one comprehensive view.
Step #6: Clearly Define Your Offer
A clearly defined offer is essential for any business to be successful in marketing. Confused people don’t take action, and they are not going to buy your product or service if they don’t understand it.
Therefore, you need to define your offer in the most straight-forward and concise way possible. Start by answering these questions:
- What do you offer to the market?
- How does this offer solve their pain points?
- What is the need for your offer?
- How do you deliver your offer?
Clarifying your offer and how it helps your target market is key to being able to create your messaging.
Step #7: Articulate Your Messaging
Once you have defined your buyer persona, researched your competitors and determined your offer, you can develop the messaging for your business. This starts with listing your value propositions. A value proposition is an innovation, service or feature that makes your product or service attractive to customers.
From there, you can compare your value propositions to your competitors and then determine which are unique to your business.
Identifying your value propositions will allow you to formulate your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). Your UVP is a statement that clearly tells your potential customers how they will benefit from your offer, how your products or services will address their needs and solve their problems and what makes your offer different from the competition.
Examples of Unique Value Propositions:
- Trello: Trello lets you work more collaboratively and get more done. Trello’s boards, lists, and cards enable you to organize and prioritize your projects in a fun, flexible, and rewarding way.
- Evernote: Your notes. Organized. Effortless. Take notes anywhere. Find information faster. Share ideas with anyone. Meeting notes, web pages, projects, to-do lists – with Evernote as your note taking app, nothing falls through the cracks.
Without a UVP, your messaging will get lost in the vast sea of competitors and keep you from differentiating your business in the marketplace.
Step #8: Determine Your Selling Process
The selling process is the interaction between the salesperson for your business and the potential buyer. Having a predetermined selling process is important for your marketing strategy. The following should be considered:
- Type of Purchase – Is it a planned purchase or an impulse buy? Will you need to nurture your leads for a long period of time?
- The Buying Process – The series of steps that a consumer will take to make a purchasing decision.
- Pricing – What is the price range of your offers? This is going to affect the marketing channels and tactics you employ.
- Communication and Promotion – What are you currently doing and can anything be added at any step of the process?
Outlining your selling process will help you in creating your Marketing Plan and to uncover potential marketing opportunities that can be added to your process.
- Without having business and marketing goals, you won’t know what marketing initiatives to invest in.
- Analyzing your market, your target market segments and your competitors is essential to being able to take advantage of the opportunities in the market.
- Having a clearly outlined offer and message will make your selling process much easier and more efficient. Your offer and message are at the core of all of your marketing activities.
Once you have a marketing strategy in place, you can create your marketing plan. The long-term strategy informs the short-term plan; it acts as the “compass” for your marketing – continually pointing you in the right direction.
The marketing plan is the roadmap for your marketing. It tells you what to pack and which turns to take along the way. A marketing plan is tactical in nature.
If you are still unsure of how to develop your marketing strategy, or you just want some additional guidance, schedule a 30-minute call and I’ll walk you through it. And when you’re ready, Entrepreneur’s Edge has a marketing plan template for you.