I’m over 500% sure that you are set for failure if you do not have a marketing strategy in place. But, why 500%?
I’ll tell you soon.
In this blog post, we walk you through some details of creating a winning marketing strategy.
But before answering how to create a marketing strategy, let’s understand certain nuances and the importance behind one.
What is a Marketing Strategy?
According to Philip Kotler, “Marketing Strategy is the logic by which a business unit expects to achieve its marketing objectives.”
In simpler terms, a marketing strategy is a data-driven plan for the organisation that:
- Defines promotional and sales objectives.
- Determines the set of marketing activities (marketing mix) to accomplish them.
- Marks the expenditure required to achieve them.
Therefore, in a marketing strategy, you answer the why and how behind a set of activities to win at your marketing game.
What Would a Marketing Strategy Look Like?
A Google search for “marketing plan templates” would yield several thousand results. A truly helpful one must consist of the following topics:
- An overview of the business
- Business goals
- A situational analysis (the environment a business functions in, profile of existing customers)
- A competitive analysis
- SWOT analysis
- Marketing goals and objectives
- Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning
- KPIs to measure results
Why is a Marketing Strategy Important?
Let me put the 500%, which I mentioned in the beginning, into context. Marketers who have a documented marketing plan in place celebrate a success rate of 538% over those who do not have one.
A business without a marketing plan is like a ship with a captain who has left his compass several nautical miles into the shore.
When you create a marketing strategy you ensure that you:
- Identify your overall business goals and objectives.
- Possess data on your competitors, your existing customers and your business to inform your decisions.
- Assess your business’ current internal and external situation; know your strengths, correct your weaknesses, leverage economical, social and political opportunities, nullify threats.
- Set achievable marketing objectives.
- Create the right content and creatives that offer value and pushes your prospects into successive stages of the marketing funnel.
- Ascertain the right channels to promote your product/s and its value proposition.
When Should You Create a Marketing Strategy?
Usually, a marketing strategy spans over several months or sometimes, even years.
You can set forth with your marketing strategy once you decide on the product you want to sell and your business model.
Sometimes marketing processes can also help you develop a new product. Hence, marketing activities such as market research can begin even before you create a marketing strategy. However, we won’t be dwelling upon product development.
Now, let’s dive into how to create a marketing strategy – the enigma you came here to solve.
SWOT & Porter’s 5 forces: Know thyself better
Every marketing strategy begins with evaluating your internal and external conditions.
To do this, we use two powerful business tools: Porter’s 5 forces and SWOT.
Porter’s 5 Forces
Wise man Porter, warns us of 5 forces over which organizations should constantly maintain vigilance. These 5 forces can both, erode or enrich a business:
Competition: If you are a software company operating out an IT park, look at your neighbour. If not, Google your niche. All the results you see is probably your competitor.
Analysing them would help you inform your value proposition, acquisition opportunities, pricing etc.
The threat of substitute products: These threats are the ones that effect your customer in switching to an alternate option that’s easier and better for them to buy and use. You can subdue this threat by identifying the changing needs and desires of your customer and meeting them.
Bargaining power of buyers: How good is your relationship with your buyer? How far can they go in bringing down your prices (and you to your knees)?
Measuring this helps you inform your branding efforts in your marketing strategy. One of the ways to quench this threat by becoming a more authoritative brand in your niche.
The threat of new entrants– As the ease of starting businesses is increasing thanks to the internet and the cloud, this is one threat you have to continuously monitor. Business empires have crumbled in weeks and months due to new entrants riding along with a new trend.
Bargaining power of suppliers– The higher the number of suppliers, the lesser is their bargaining power. Understand how effectively your supplier can control their prices.
The more suppliers within your landscape make it easier and cheaper to switch to new suppliers.
In a marketing plan, SWOT stands for Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats. You analyse these four aspects of a business to best inform your marketing activities.
Developed by Albert Humphrey in the early 1970s, SWOT is still used to analyse their strengths, shortcomings and opportunities.
They are also used against individuals to evaluate their performances and set benchmarks.
How to do a SWOT analysis?
A SWOT analysis is a four-pronged approach.
Capitalise on your strengths– By identifying your strengths you identify processes, assets and resources using which you can outperform your competitors.
Few areas where your strengths may lie are:
- The qualities that separate you from your competitors
- The experience, authority, industry connections of your employees
- Intellectual property
- Content assets
- Cost advantages
- Business location
- Financial resources
Correct your weaknesses: Every business will have a few elements that hinder their progress. A few places where you can identify your weaknesses are:
- Budget allocation
- Inefficient or inexperienced business units,
- Declining market share
Plan for opportunities and threats: Opportunities and threats can be identified by researching the social, economical and political conditions of your target market.
Opportunities can be recognised by:
- Researching untapped markets, niches where there are fewer competitors, emerging needs from your market
- Socio-political climate
Threats to your company include:
- merging competitors
- changing regulatory environments
- changing customer attitudes towards companies
- Political scenarios
The ultimate aim of a SWOT analysis to benchmark your existing growth, identify areas to improve and scale.
By doing so, you will find yourself well-positioned for the next step.
Identify Your Business Goals and Objectives
As mentioned earlier, a marketing strategy explains the why behind what you do.
The “what” is your goals and objectives.
When drawing a marketing plan, businesses often fail to distinguish between marketing objectives and business objectives.
Your business goals and objectives are the ones you define for the company as a whole.
Your marketing objectives are the ones that your marketing unit has to achieve to get to your overall business goal.
Remember, all your marketing activities should be designed to fulfil our business goals.
Market research is usually carried out by surveys, interviews, focus groups etc. Surveys help you detect patterns in consumer needs, shopping and usage behaviour etc. Interviews and focus groups help you uncover pain points, frustrations, desires and goals.
You can even try to emulate the words your customer’s use in interviews to explain their frustrations in your advertisements. This makes your ad relevant to them and humanises your brand.
Although surveys and interviews provide you with the most authoritative data, they are time-consuming. You can offload this task to an experienced marketing agency.
In contrast, there are some other ways that can help you carry out your market research such as:
- Keyword research
- Social listening
- Developing a buyer persona
One effective way to gauge customer demand is keyword research. Keywords are the search queries that users enter to search for solutions, services and products on search engines. Since users conduct informational and product research on search engines, keywords manifest as an unadulterated reflection of your customer’s needs and want.
Keyword research involves analysing and segmenting keywords according to search volume, seasonal trends and the user’s intention behind their search. Researching keywords can help you
- Understand product demand
- Detect seasonal consumer trends
- Create new products and product categories
- Gauge existing demand
- Modify your existing product to cater to customer’s demands
In social listening, you interpret the online conversations happening around your products, your competition, your brand, your industry etc.
Social listening is done by tracking:
- Brand mentions
- Comments on your blogs and social media handles
- Online forums
- Tweets that carry your brand
This uncovers insights into what troubles existing customers. You can also track customers unhappy with your competition and design offers that cater to their needs.
Develop A Buyer Persona
Upon completing your research, you will have the necessary data to develop a buyer persona.
A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer.
It furthers your understanding of your customer by consolidating their lifestyles, their beliefs and sentiments, their work times etc.
Your research will help you detect semantic patterns in the way your customer describes their pains and frustrations. You can add these insights to your buyer persona. This enables you to speak their language in your content and all promotional material.
Set Realistic Goals – Be SMART
One of the common mistakes businesses tend to make while drafting their marketing plan is setting unrealistic and abstract goals.
An example of a bad goal would be- “I want to generate new leads”.
A goal as abstract as the above would be like a walk in the dark. You will neither know if you have met success nor will you know if you have given up too soon.
Why Should You Have SMART Goals In Your Marketing Strategy?
Successful marketing teams all around the world frame goals that are SMART- Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely.
This is how a SMART goal would look like:
- Specific – Mention exactly what you want to achieve. You have to explain to your C-suite what you are trying to prove or improve.
- Measurable – Make sure you can track your goal by making adding numeric details.
- Attainable – Be ambitious. Nevertheless, bear in mind that your goal should be achievable by your team.
- Realistic – Understand what you have and what you don’t and map them to how much you can achieve.
- Timely – Set a deadline by when you would like to realise your goal.
“Since <name of company> generates 100 new leads every month and converts 5 of them, we aim to leverage our content marketing team and PPC team to generate 30% more leads every month and increase conversion by 3x by the end of 6 months.”
Choose your channels
There are three channels for any marketing strategy- owned, earned and paid.
Regardless of which channel you wish to develop, you first have to identify those that will help you reach out to your customers.
Channels offer context.
Your research on your customer has to include where and how they would like to hear it. Prepare your marketing copy and content in such a way that they adhere to the enhancements and limitations of these channels.
To choose the right channels, look at your direct and indirect competitors. Simply, emulate them until you find out what works.
Build A Sales Funnel Using AIDA
Without articulating how a sales funnel works, nobody can completely answer the question “how to create a marketing strategy”.
It is while optimising your sales funnel, all the prior work above, ranging from SWOT to research, fall in place.
What Is A Sales Funnel And AIDA?
A sales funnel is a model that helps you understand the stages of purchase a buyer goes through to find the right product.
There are 4 stages a buyer goes through – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. Hence, the term AIDA is used.
Using AIDA, you map content and copy to the right contexts and the appropriate buyer persona. This helps you to move your prospect from one buying stage to another. You do this by:
- Grabbing their customer’s attention.
- Developing an interesting relationship with them.
- Creating a desire for their products.
- Persuading them to make a favourable action for their brand.
Stage 1: Attention
At this stage, the buyer isn’t ready to purchase yet. However, they have an unfulfilled need and they are looking around for products or services that shall satisfy it.
You can use eye-catching copy, sensational videos, etc to flash what you offer.
As by this time, you would have identified the right media channels, use your research to rightly place your ads.
Using the research you did through social listening, leverage the same words your customers use to create relevant, emphatic ads that catch the attention of your buyer.
Your aim here should be to firmly introduce your brand and your product.
Stage 2: Interest
In this stage, any online consumer would have identified a set of products (including yours) that would satisfy their need. They are actively searching for more information.
Here, you would have to come up with content that creates interest. Communicate the benefits (emotional, functional, social) through your ads or your content.
Use the strengths and unique selling points you have identified in your SWOT analysis. Bring out those stats you might have identified while researching opportunities and threats.
Stage 3: Desire
At this stage of your buyer’s journey, your buyer is actively considering your product.
Under these circumstances, persuade with your social proof and bring out the juicy discounts. Use testimonials and positive tweets you have dug from social listening. Design landing pages that use persuasive marketing techniques such as the Decoy effect, urgency and scarcity. Promote your case studies and white papers that paint a powerful picture of how good you are in your industry.
Stage 4: Action
Your consumer has surrendered to the power of persuasion.
Hence, make them take an action by creating a strong call to actions, reminding them of abandoned carts, using your sales team to make demo calls, etc.
To sum up, all the tips to create a marketing strategy presented above help in better understanding customers and craft great communication and purchase experiences.
42% of brands have a content strategist who creates a marketing strategy and ensures that they work. Therefore, successful businesses do not consider strategy as an afterthought. They allocate both human and financial resources to carry out the necessary activities to have a documented marketing plan in place.
A marketing strategy helps brands occupy a desirable, trustworthy space in their customers’ minds. For this to happen, your customers should receive a smooth communication and purchase experience. Thus, a marketing plan, which assesses strengths and shortcomings and leverages communication channels to promote personalised persuasive messages, is crucial.
How Can ORH Marketing Help Your Business?
Notably, about 58% of startups fail because of their non-cohesive marketing strategies.
There are tons of marketing plan templates all across the web which you can emulate. But are you finding it difficult in coming up with a marketing plan on your own?
At ORH marketing, our wily marketing strategists have ushered companies through tough, stormy markets and rained down sales.
For more powerful tips to create your marketing strategy, get in touch with our marketing team today!