Your Marketing Plan
Marketing Strategy is closely tied to the overall strategy of any business. Without customers, there is no business. Whether you sell a building product to the government or to construction companies, you still need a marketing strategy. Marketing strategy is much more than getting business leads. It defines what the product or service is, based on your customers’ needs. It defines your image to the public and also how to grow your business. It also specifies how you are going to get there.
If you don’t have a business plan or never wrote one, don’t panic. There are tons of resources out there. Many business owners and investors contact me for business loans or commercial real estate loans through Top 10 Funding with no business plan. If the plan is in your head, it may be a good idea to write it down if your are trying to get capital.
#1 Every Plan Has Goals & Objectives
Long-term goals are usually tied to your overall business goals. Short-term Objectives are measurable and are usually tied to measurable activities. This is Business-101. In business school we learned to analyze the heck out of everything. Start by evaluating yourself and your business. A SWOT & TOWS analysis is a good start. It stands for STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES, OPPORTUNITIES, and THREATS. Strengths and Weaknesses are internal, Opportunities and Threats are external. You should familiarize yourself with these tools and at the very least, do a competitive analysis. There’s a good article on this at https://www.business-to-you.com/swot-analysis/.
Even the 300 Spartans had a budget to eat. Marketing managers have a difficult job to do and are sometimes expected to to do more with less. The leaders in every industry realize that effective marketing directly drives cash flow, but it can be expensive. There are ways you can try to get the biggest bang for your buck in marketing, however you will find that effective ads and strategies have a lifespan. Once other marketers start using the same types of ads, they lose their uniqueness and effectiveness.
Most of the time, clients will increase their marketing budget when they see the results. If a client thinks at a System Level, they will see how increased marketing with effective strategies will have long-term effects on the bottom line.
#3 Target Market
Targeting a specific audience is not only smart, it is the ONLY way you can measure the effectiveness of your campaigns. If you are selling shoes on Amazon, you need to control inventory by limiting the styles and sizes to a specific audience. Otherwise you will end up with tons of excess inventory.
The niche you choose should be defined at a personal level. Inbound Marketing is a term often used by agencies like HubSpot that focus on the client persona and getting into their heads. Facebook ads can be targeted to a specific audience with detailed demographics, such as 26 year-old females within a 25 mile radius who either live or visited the area, with interest in shoes and handbags. There is so much power in targeting and molding your business around the target audience.
#4 Online Strategy
According to Statista, at the time of this writing, the leading online social media platforms are Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and Instagram. Take a look at the image for this post. Everyone reading this should be advertising on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. If your business is B2B, you should be on LinkedIn. If you sell products on an E-Commerce site, you should also use Pinterest, and SnapChat.
Research your target industry and learn as much as you possibly can about your customers and what keywords they are using. Keyword research tools are easy to find. I’m not going to recommend one in this article, because I’m not particularly impressed by any single tool or website. Exactly how do you trust that the tool is providing accurate keyword phrases? Seems like we need a tool to evaluate the tools.
What metrics indicate success or failure?
On Facebook we measure Likes, Comments, and Shares. Facebook will show us the effectiveness of our ads by reporting on Page Visits, Reach, Likes, and how many people Engaged.
Engagement should be measured on Social Media, Email drips, and website visits using Google Analytics. You should understand who is interested, how long they are there, and why they converted.
Conversion is the goal, but is just the start. Customer service begins at the sale and continues through referrals. Poor conversion is a result of poor marketing performance and possibly errors in research or interpretation of data.
There is a company called Monkey Learn that does machine learning for sentiment analysis. Sentiment can be measured on social media comments, email responses and any other text extracted from your feeds. Yelp and Amazon feedback data can be extremely valuable.
Key Performance Indicators that align with your business objectives should be measured and evaluated. KPIs such as, clicks, like, shares, comments, profile visits, brand mentions, and followers were invented by the social media platforms, but have become our fundamental metrics for measuring our success.
Learn about your competitors and what they are doing to attract your customers. Your strategy should be to take them back home to you. Keep in mind, there are different types of competitors, such as direct, indirect, or replacement. I you sell shoes on Amazon, for example, you are competing with shoes or all apparel. You are also competing with items that “people who purchased this item also looked at.”
If you are running your own business, you better know fundamental micro and macro Economics. It’s much more than supply, demand, and equilibrium. Opportunity costs, game theory, market structure, and economics of information are topics a good marketer should understand when developing a strategy for a company. Understanding the buying power of your customers is equally as important as the suppliers in your industry and how easy it is for others to duplicate your business.
Consider doing a PESTEL analysis. This includes Political Factors, Economic Factors, Social Factors, Technical Factors, Environmental Factors, and Legal Factors. There is a good article on this at https://www.business-to-you.com/scanning-the-environment-pestel-analysis/.
#8 Sales Forecast
Do you have multiple sales channels? If so, great! If others are going to sell for you, you should insist on having a forecast so you can measure progress and determine the cost of sales. You can’t get there if you don’t know where you’re going. Forecast do more than tie salespeople to their goals. Forecasts help us to evaluate our markets while measuring the performance of our marketing efforts.
#9 Customer Personas
Learn everything you can about people that have purchased your product and how they found you. You should design your content around this knowledge. Customer Personas should be created for every product and service you offer.
Why Are Buyer Personas Important? Targeting your audience should be tailored even further — to the special needs of your buyer. All of your marketing activities, content, and customer service should be based on the needs of the buyer. We all want to develop our business offering centered on the needs of our customers. For more information on this topic, visit Hubspot Academy: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/buyer-persona-research .
This is the first P of the marketing mix. If you apply for a bank loan, your business plan must have the basics. Product development should always be based on market strategy and research. Develop a plan for your product offering and understand the needs of your customers before developing the product of service.
The second P of the marketing mix . The best price does not always win. Pricing must be right for the product, even if it is more than your competitor’s product. Pricing can influence perceived quality or the collectability of a product or indicate the demand for your service. It helps to have a real understanding of basic economics and how to measure supply and demand in your market.
The third P of the marketing mix . This is where your product is offered. Online, brick-and-mortar store, affiliate marketing, Amazon, and so on. The website, social media pages, and your personal brand all define the place. Keep in mind that reputation management is a big part of this.
The forth P of the marketing mix. This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. The advertisements, colors, logo, business cards, and anything you do to promote yourself, online or steam-punk. There are no rules in promotion, only to attract, engage, and delight your customers.
#14 Positioning, the Fifth P.
In graduate school, I learned that the marketing mix, or the 4 P’s of marketing was missing something very important. Positioning your product in front of the right customer at the right time is your golden opportunity. Things like product placement in stories, blogs, videos, movies, or TV shows. Even using the eye-level shelf in the grocery store.
Use your SWOT to develop a strong positioning strategy. Your competitors are positioning against you and those like you. Turn it around and go on the offense. Evaluate the needs of your customers ,the market, and your capabilities. A great positioning strategy allows your company to leverage specific areas where you can stand out and beat your competition.
#15 Measurement and Analysis
One of the best tools in marketing is a marketing audit. There are many tools out there to measure and determine the effectiveness of a prospect’s marketing strategy. My favorite tools for Digital Audits are SEMrush, Google Analytics, and Ahrefs. The important thing to remember is that if you land the job, you will also need to show the effectiveness of your work.
#16 Adapt and Correct
When the numbers are not showing what your intended, change direction and fix it. Tucker Max said, “In training, there is no winning or losing. There is only learning. Marketing is both a science and an art. Technology is constantly evolving and we must always think about improving our processes and techniques.
Start With 16 Chess Pieces
Does a perfect marketing strategy need to be complex? Not at all. Some of the best performing strategies are simple and dynamic. If you are selling a home or leasing apartments, Facebook won’t allow you to advertise housing. You will need to advertise on other sites, like Zillow, Trulia, or Realtor.com.
I thought is was a good idea to stop at 16. We can go on and on about the elements of a perfect strategy. Your strategy will be dynamic and personal. The Digital World is changing and people are depending more and more on social media, text messaging, chatbots, apps, and websites. Learn about Search Engine Optimization, PPC, Email automation, website design, and creating video ads. I’m sure that’s what brought you here.
I hope you found this information helpful. Please leave a comment and let me know if you would like to see more of this content.