Creating a marketing strategy for your business may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.
In this article, we break down the basics of creating a successful marketing strategy to get you moving in the right direction.
What is a ‘Marketing Strategy?’
But first, what is a marketing strategy?
Investopedia defines marketing strategy as:
A business’s overall game plan for reaching prospective consumers and turning them into customers of their products or services. A marketing strategy contains the company’s value proposition, key brand messaging, data on target customer demographics, and other high-level elements. A thorough marketing strategy covers “the four Ps” of marketing—product, price, place, and promotion.
In simple terms, a marketing strategy explains how you will reach your prospects and customers. It contains the big initiatives that your marketing team will work on.
In contrast, marketing tactics are the small steps that your marketing team works on.
For example, if your goal is to sell more products or services, a strategy may be to implement cross-selling and up-selling email automation to encourage previous customers to buy again. The tactics to create those emails would be to create the automation outline, draft the content, design the emails, and eventually turn on the automation.
To recap, your marketing strategy is the big picture! So, let’s dive into how to create that big picture.
Focus on Your Business Goals
Before you can start developing a marketing strategy, you need to know your business goals for your marketing efforts. These goals can be similar to or different from your overall business goals, depending on where you see your operations, audience, and target market heading in the future.
Do you want to sell more? Are you expanding into a new market or audience segment? Do you want to build a brand presence? Are you launching a new product or service? Do you need to secure funding?
You might be tempted to say, “Yes, all of them!” but it’s key that your marketing efforts are focused on one business objective or your ROI will be unclear. You may need to speak to top management to gain clarity about the overall business goals so you can create a marketing strategy that aligns with that goal.
Once you know the business goal, you can develop a marketing strategy that aligns with that goal.
For example, if your goal is to sell more, then you will focus on conversions. So, you want to focus on marketing efforts that help your audience convert. That may mean that you focus the majority of your marketing efforts on optimizing your marketing funnel, implementing CRO, and fine-tuning high-performing email campaigns.
This means you spend less time on social media marketing efforts, which are intended to help your audience build trust with your business but may not move the needle as fast as desired.
Tip: Since most marketing efforts require long-term investment, you may not want to stop certain projects when they no longer align with your goals. Instead, spend less time focusing on them while spending more time on the efforts that align with your goals.
Use Proven Methods
When creating your marketing strategy, it’s important to know what works for your business. In other words, what methods have yielded positive results in the past, and which have been less successful for your brand?
In Mastering Marketing Agility, Andrea Fryrear says, “Don’t get so caught up in chasing shiny objects that you neglect the tasks needed to keep the lights on.”
This quote eloquently calls out a common problem marketers face: we want to chase the new, shiny opportunities, but we need to focus on what keeps the lights on, or, in other words, meets our business goals.
We all know the power that “going viral” can lend to a new or growing brand, but those fleeting (but impactful) flukes aren’t typically going to garner you as much success as consistency and adaptability will.
Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t jump onto the latest trend or test the latest platform. But instead, it’s important to focus primarily on proven methods rather than unproven, shiny opportunities.
So, how do you know what works for your business?
You start by looking at the data. Are you meeting your business goals? What platforms are helping you do so? What marketing efforts have a negative ROI?
This helps you get a full picture of what is and isn’t working in your current strategy so you can adjust it accordingly.
It’s also beneficial to understand your industry because it can speed up your strategy-creating process. When you know what works for your industry, you can often replicate that for your business.
Not sure what works for your industry? Check out our industry-tailored marketing strategies.
In these strategies, we outline proven methods for multiple industries. Simply find your industry and then read the strategies that are proven to work for that industry.
You may want to fine-tune your strategy over time by reviewing the data, but starting with industry-specific, proven marketing methods is a great place to start – whether you’re creating a marketing strategy for a new business or you’re overhauling your current strategy.
Start with a Firm Foundation
If you read our industry-tailored marketing strategies, you notice that each industry’s strategy is split into three main categories:
- Marketing Foundation
- Audience Targeting
- Lead Nurturing
First, you need a firm foundation. Then you can start targeting your audience and nurturing your leads.
A common problem marketers and business owners face is that they try to create a marketing strategy out of order.
For example, many businesses create social media pages – a lead nurturing effort – without having a website to direct new followers to – a marketing foundation effort.
Now, having business listings, which can include social media pages, is an important foundational effort, but all business listings require a call to action so prospects can contact you or learn more about your business, which typically leads to a business’s website.
To create a firm marketing foundation, you need to perform market research to know that your offerings meet the needs of someone, understand your audience’s needs so you can convey your offerings effectively, develop your positioning in the competitive marketplace to know how you stack up against competitors, and develop an online presence so your target audience can find you.
Businesses with small marketing budgets sometimes fall into the trap of focusing on anything that is free, such as social media and email marketing accounts, but when created before a foundation is in place, these efforts are not as effective as they could be.
When a firm marketing foundation is established first, you can add on audience targeting and lead nurturing efforts at a pace that suits your marketing team while knowing that all of your efforts are catered toward your target audience and are effective in the competitive marketplace.
Get Support with Your Marketing Strategy
With the basics in place, you’re ready to fine-tune your strategic efforts for your unique business.
If you’d like support for creating your marketing strategy, our team offers unlimited strategic guidance for all of our members. Learn more about our strategic guidance approach here.