The Importance Of An Effective Marketing Strategy
Many marketing initiatives still fall short due to the absence of a well-crafted marketing strategy. A well thought out strategy is still relevant in these days of business @the speed of thought. So, what are the key components of a marketing strategy and what do business owners need to consider in designing an effective strategy?
Goals and Objectives
As with all plans, everything starts with Objectives and Goals. Without proper goal-setting, your 2017 Marketing Strategy will be like a ship without a compass.
Thus, start by thinking through what you would like to accomplish this year. Identify your basic marketing objectives, which may include a few of the following:
- Increase brand recognition
- Grow market share
- Market to New Customer Segments
- Increase digital presence
- Etc., etc....
Once you have identified your broad goals, you need to set clear objectives for each goal so that you can measure progress against attainment of each goal. In setting these objectives, you can leverage the SMART approach to ensure such objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.
Once you have identified the goals and objectives, you need to get down to the unenviable task of figuring out your Marketing Budget. As it happens with all businesses, be they small and medium businesses (SMBs) or large enterprises, there is never enough budget to cover all your marketing wish-list adequately. Typically, it is an iterative process.
Step 1 – Come up with budget to cover all your marketing goals adequately.
Step 2 – You will probably find out you are far exceeding the number you can afford. At this point, take another look at your marketing goals and identify the objectives that are most critical to your success and reallocate dollars to do a reasonable job of meeting those top-priority objectives.
Step 3 – Look for innovative ways to stretch your marketing dollars. For example, can you develop useful Content yourself on a consistent basis, can you outsource some of the SEO and Social Media Marketing work to Agencies and Professionals who use lower-cost, yet qualified offshore teams?
Step 4 – Take a step back and take a big picture view of whether your final allocated dollars make sense from an industry perspective and your key marketing thrust areas. How is your spend comparing to your competitors? If your customers are using more and more digital channels, is your website well-optimized that your prospects can find you? If not, have you budgeted for revamping your website adequately? Could you benefit from rolling out a native mobile app? Has that cost been adequately reflected in your budget?
Target Audience, Buyer Journey, and Messaging
Write down your target audience descriptions so that you have a clear idea of who your target customers are – not just as abstract, monolithic segments but as living, breathing human beings who cannot be just described by income, gender, and education.
Identify your target audience’s demographic characteristics (Age, Location, Occupation, Education, Income, Gender etc.) as well as psychographic characteristics (e.g., Personality, Attitudes, Interests, Hobbies, Buying Propensities etc.). Segment your customers and prospects into clear segments based on demographic and psychographic data. For example, digital-savvy Millennials, Baby Boomers who need personalized interactions etc.
Next, develop buyer personas based on the customer segmentation. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.
Once the buyer personas are developed, you can develop the Buyer Journey for each Buyer Persona based on what each Persona is thinking and feeling, and how it should be interacting with your brand at each of the following stages in her journey: 1) Awareness, 2) Consideration, and 3) Decision.
Based on a deep understanding of how each persona is interacting with the different components of your Brand, decide on the best messaging media, tone, selling propositions, and key terms that are likely to resonate the most.
Deciding on the Channel Mix
Armed with all of the data, information, and research – now you can decide where your business would get the most ROI (Return On Investment) from any or all of the following three broad marketing channel categories:
- Traditional Marketing Channels such as TV, Radio, Newspaper/Magazine Ads, Direct Mail etc.
- Digital Marketing Channels such as Website, Mobile App, Social Media, Online Ads, Email etc.
- Content Marketing such as Blogs, Newsletters, e-books, videos, presentations, infographics etc.
You should look at the Budget that you created and perform a sanity check for proper coverage and allocation of dollars to cover the marketing channels that you selected to communicate and engage with your priority customer segments and buyer personas.
This might sound like a lot of work, but it really is a matter of writing down what you probably already know. The simple act of writing down your gut feelings and having to back that up with facts is useful enough. Once your 2017 marketing strategy and plan is completed, you can stay laser-focused on executing it and you do not have to always be second-guessing yourself, or worse, keep changing your strategies aimlessly throughout the year, and ending the year clueless on what strategies and tactics really worked vs. those that did not work, and why. Having a well-documented Marketing Strategy for the year ensures that your hard-earned dollars are really working for you.