Create a Marketing Strategy that Works: 5 Essential Tips
Strategic planning is the process for creating marketing strategy that works. First, translating business goals into marketing goals sets the foundations by refining company objectives. Company leadership identify company wide goals such as growth: ‘we need to go from $40M to $60M in Annual Revenue by Q2’. Before creating marketing strategy, a business goal becomes an actionable marketing directive:
- To increase revenue, we need to secure media coverage in X and Y magazine, thereby increasing awareness among X prospects
- Marketing teams need to create a new prospect pipeline to generate 70-80 leads/month for sales
Once company leadership and marketing leaders identify marketing’s role in reaching refined business goals, marketing and sales departments can work together to create a marketing plan by following these five tips.
1. Create a marketing strategy in collaboration
A collaborative unit involves senior and junior employees from across different departments. By bringing teams together, strategy will be efficient and teams empowered.
Sales and marketing teams work with the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or, in the absence of a CMO, a strategic planning agency. The CMO is a key member who bridges the gap between leadership and marketing and ensures that the marketing plan furthers business goals.
Marketing team members include personnel from departments such as: Public Relations (PR), digital marketing including search and social and paid advertising teams.
One of the main benefits of working in collaboration is the benefit of insights across the business. Different team members bring different perspectives. More importantly for the creation of marketing strategy, different departments bring their own set of needs from the marketing team. If marketing know what sales need they can strategize to support them. Moreover if all marketing teams understand the overall strategy they will understand their role in shaping it.
2. Identify target audiences
A well-informed strategy has a defined target audience(s). Audiences are identified by the likelihood of them fulfilling a business goal. By identifying who the target is marketing teams can strategize to appeal to them.
A marketing leader will draw from his or her knowledge of the market, alongside the needs of departments. Collaboration is key when it comes to identifying target audiences.
If marketing includes sales in their strategy creation, marketing can gain insights into what sales need. For example, sales may know that target audience A spends $x/annum, and historically sales has converted x% of leads. With this information, marketing can create a strategy that supports sales, delivering the qualified leads the sales team members need to meet their objectives.
Existing clients are a commonly overlooked target audience. Existing clients, in theory, are easy to convert or upsell to: there’s trust, in-depth knowledge of their business, an understanding of their pain points and the ways in which your business can help. An existing client will be receptive to hearing how you can further their business – that is why they engaged you in the first place.
Once desired target audiences are identified move on to narratives – what engaging stories can you tell the market?
3. Think in narratives
A narrative is a story or message that goes out to the market. Narratives are consistent, relevant, and further at least one marketing goal.
A tech company might have a goal to grow through upselling to existing clients. Since the tech company knows its clients and therefore the clients’ goals and what’s stopping them, the narrative might be:
‘Your old solution is holding you back from growth, client.’
Narratives become an integral part of the strategy. If the point is to show clients how their current solution is holding them back or how they can grow with the tech company’s product or service, then everything that goes out to that target audience must reflect the narrative. A piece of content, such as a case study will showcase product potential and share another client’s success.
Different audiences and business goals may require different narratives – another reason why strategizing is so important. Thinking in narratives first ensures that content is created with the narratives in mind, also that the strategy is aligned with the goals of the business.
4. Decide content pieces before planning content execution
Content is a resource that you give to your audience. Engaging content is handed to the target audience in a way that they want to receive it such as an eBook, an infographic, a presentation, a video.
Taking a content first approach streamlines content creation and later the marketing that puts it front of the right people. If a case study is a favored piece of content, marketing can plan to repurpose it efficiently.
One case study becomes a:
- page on website
- chapter in an ebook
- video case study
- report or infographic
- potential speaking opportunity at a conference
Working with content first means that marketing teams know what they need to create, so they can plan to create it efficiently. Moreover, once content is selected marketing can strategize the most logical way to get it out to the people who need it the most.
5. Choose channels your audiences engage with
Marketing selects channels based on the target audience and the channels they engage with. Marketing will also consider what type of content the channel lends itself well to. For example the website might make use of the case study in the shape of a download, whereas the case study might be shared on social media in smaller, digestible content pieces.
PR needs content to be newsworthy; relevant and ‘new’. The channel strategy will allow PR to have content first. Then, when PR is published, other channels can share the content.
Sometimes there is power in posting the same content across multiple channels at the same time. Working this way provides a consistent experience for the audience. Strategizing content first gives marketers the opportunity to create the brand touch points as they desire.
It is better to market through fewer channels and use them well than use many channels half-heartedly.
Tips to creating an effective marketing strategy: a summary
- Follow the strategic planning process and translate business goals into marketing goals before creating marketing strategy
- Collaborate with internal teams to create the most effective strategy
- Identify target audiences and understand their pain points
- Create narratives to tell the market that support the marketing goals
- Take a content-first approach to repurpose and reuse content smartly
- Choose channels based on the target audience and content pieces