By Annabel Mulliner
It can be very tempting to wing your business’ marketing, especially if you’ve managed to achieve some good results simply by putting out some content. But this success could be short-lived if you don’t have a long-term plan. Without a marketing strategy, you could risk falling behind your competitors.
There’s a common saying that failing to plan is planning to fail, and business marketing is no exception to this. When startups face such stiff competition, with 50% of businesses failing within the first five years, planning ahead can help you come out head and shoulders above the rest.
What is a marketing strategy?
A marketing strategy is a structured document that outlines your business’ aims and purpose – who you are, and what your unique selling point is. It should identify who your customers are, for example, their age, gender, and location. This outline should provide a roadmap for how you are going to reach this target audience.
What should a marketing strategy include?
Your vision and objectives
What do you want to achieve in the next month? Year? Five years? Settling on achievable goals will help you to outline exactly how you can achieve success.
Your target audience
If you aren’t sure who your customers are, there are a few things you can do. Google Analytics is a starting point for getting statistics, but you will get a much more accurate and personal feel for your customer base through other channels:
- Look at your product orders and reviews to see who’s really buying your products. A website click isn’t the same as a sale.
- Review your social media following. Check out who’s commenting on your posts, and use each channel’s analytics tool to see who your posts are reaching.
Why is a marketing strategy so important?
A marketing strategy will make your marketing efforts much more worthwhile. You won’t be wasting time on strategies that fall flat. Instead, you will be able to identify your goals and achieve them more effectively.
Helps you to beat the competition
Even if aspects of your current marketing tactics are working well, without a strategy you could be missing out on ways you could be doing even better. Your competitors will pose more of a threat to your business because they might fill in the gaps of areas you are failing to succeed in.
You may also lose out on opportunities to gain and retain loyal customers. Without knowing how best to interact with your audience, you may fail to impress them enough to stick with your brand.
Your strategy will help you excel in your industry by outlining your key competitors, and how you can out-perform them. Perhaps there’s a service that no one else in your area is providing, or is your biggest rival failing to use a social media channel to its full potential?
Keeps your resources focused
Setting out clear goals will help to keep your employees on the same page. No matter who is putting out a social media post, they will have the same objectives in mind. You won’t be wasting time and money by having the same employees or agencies performing similar tasks, as having specific goals in mind will also help you better manage your marketing efforts by delegating tasks.
This will help you to work out how best to use your resources – do you have enough staff to meet your goals? What sort of money do you need to invest in your marketing methods? If you want to go further in-depth in assessing your current digital marketing efforts, it could be worth investing in a digital audit.
Reach your audience more effectively
Setting out a strategy will challenge you to identify your target audience and help you to think about how best to reach them. This means going beyond knowing that most of your website visitors are women in their 20’s. You’ll be framing your specific customer relationship – what your current customers love about you, and how to share this with potential new customers.
Different platforms and marketing channels are better suited to specific demographics. If you’re a B2B company, LinkedIn is your friend, while if you’re wanting to catch the eyes of young people, TikTok is a better bet.
Keep on track with your goals
Having a marketing strategy will help you to form a content plan. It will help you decide how often you should be posting, on which channels, and what form the content should take. It will be easier to put aside time to interact with and respond to your social media audience. But make sure you don’t over-plan – your content plan should leave space to adapt to new trends.
Creating a content calendar is a great way to set out your long-term content strategy. Not only will this help you schedule social media posts, but it will also help you set deadlines for your objectives. There are various free templates available online to get you started.
Your strategy should also help you identify whether your methods are working, by using measurable metrics that can demonstrate whether you’re achieving results over time. For example, you may be looking to improve your website’s search rankings by developing an SEO strategy. You can use metrics like Google rankings, your website traffic, and the volume of online inquiries to measure how well you are achieving this.
If the idea of formulating a marketing strategy is a little overwhelming, you don’t have to go it alone. We offer personal sessions where we will help you to work out a detailed strategy with your goals in mind. Like the sound of this? We’d love to hear from you.