Although creating a marketing strategy for your business can be a bit of a slough, it’s nothing compared to the amount of work it takes to actually champion and carry a strategy through on a daily basis.
There’s nothing wrong with getting your hands dirty in the marketing trenches for your business, but if your hands are already plenty busy, have you considered a Fractional CMO?
Fractional CMOs (Chief Marketing Officer) are executive-level marketing managers who only work part-time according to your company’s needs. There’s no need to hire out for a full-time salary position, especially when you’re just getting started on your marketing journey.
No matter the tools you’re partial to using or the market in which you reside, these four steps to creating a marketing strategy will work for your business because they work for every business.
You’ll find ways to adapt these steps to your niche, which is encouraged, but you won’t be able to skip any of these without severely hindering your chances of creating a successful marketing strategy.
1) Market Research
Information and a balanced perspective are crucial to the success of a marketing campaign, therefore steps one and two are dedicated to understanding your competition and marketplace, respectively.
With a pen and pad, create three columns. Google search the key phrase you want to rank number one for. So, if you own a gardening tool shop, you’d search for something like “gardening tools for sale” or “gardening tools near me.”
Look at the search engine results and choose the two biggest companies in your niche, sector, or area.
We’re talking about market leaders—the ones eating all the pie (which will be yours soon). Write the name of each company at the top of its own respective column.
Now, look at the Google search results again and pick a company that’s closest to you in scope and size. Someone who’s taking up the same market share as you.
Place their name at the top of the third column. Three columns, three companies.
Below each company, you’ll list five different key performance indicators (KPIs). These KPIs can be a wide range of characteristics depending on the niche your brand occupies, so you’re going to have to do a little research here.
What are the primary stats that tell the story of your company? Those will be the stats you need to pull from the research you’ll do on each of the three companies you jotted down. If you’re an online store, you’re probably measuring things like a customer’s lifetime value (LTV) and your site’s domain authority.
Browser extensions like Ubersuggest and Rank Math are perfect for capturing data points from competitors. For brick-and-mortar stores, you’ll use alternative means of research, but you get the gist. Jot down the five KPIs below each respective company.
The next step is creating benchmarks. You already started doing that with your competitive research by figuring out KPIs on the market leaders.
Now, look at your peers in the market, as many as you’d like, but at least five, so you get a good average at the end. Jot down their five KPIs and then average them out, so you end up with an average number across each variable.
These averages are your benchmarks, the KPIs you should be striving to hit consistently before scaling. We’ll come back to these numbers later, so keep them close.
2) Customer Persona
Building a viable customer persona is crucial to a marketing campaign’s success. A persona is an avatar representing your ideal customer. Many companies have more than one persona, but we’re focusing on one for now.
(Feel free to repeat this process as many times as you’d like if you have segmented customer data.)
The best way to start building a customer persona is by looking at purchase data. Who is currently purchasing your product or service? Depending on your situation or market, this data’s accessibility may vary.
If you don’t have market-based sales knowledge of your offering, now’s the time to jump into Google Analytics or wherever your sales data resides.
The goal is to begin pooling common customer characteristics into your persona. Demographic data like location, age, and sex are vital, but so is peripheral data like marital status, income, family size, and occupation.
Give your persona a name and set them aside momentarily. Your new avatar is a major component of your channel plan later on, but there’s one more step before we get to that.
3) SEO Content Audit
No matter the size of your business, one thing remains true: content is king. Whether you’re an e-commerce startup or a local mom & pop shop, you should already have some content you’ve been utilizing to attract eyeballs to your offering. Gather all of the assets you’ve created over the past six to 12 months.
This is a simple but powerful exercise. The process will vary depending on the type of content you’ve been creating. If you’ve been using Instagram, open the native analytics functionality inside the app.
If you’ve been blogging, you’ll likely be looking at Google Analytics page reports. No matter the platform, though, the process is the same.
All you have to do is pick the three most successful pieces of content you’ve created in the past year or less. Now, success will vary according to the platform, so if you use three different channels (e.g., Instagram, email, blog), choose the most successful piece of content for each respective channel.
The point here is to come to a deep understanding of the kind of content you are good at creating that is also attractive to your customer persona–that is your sweet spot. These three great pieces of content are now your templates for the work you’ll be churning out in the final step.
4) Channel Plan
A channel plan is your marketing blueprint. By now, you should have a solid idea of what your most profitable channels are, your best performing content types, as well as benchmarks to measure your progress against.
Using a piece of paper or a spreadsheet, create your channel plan using the following format:
|Channel #1 (eg. YouTube)||Schedule||Format||Best Practices||Team Members||KPIs /Goas|
This is the frequency you’ll be posting on this channel. Experiment with your publishing to find the exact times your audience engages with you the most.
The genre and format of your content. It’s important to note that you can have multiple forms of content on one channel. Instagram, for instance, has reels, stories, posts, live, and more. Decide which types of content you’ll be committing to.
These include image or video size, caption length, common CTAs, and other guidelines for posting content on this specific channel.
Write down team members’ names along with their area of responsibility.
Your market benchmarks that you researched earlier will go here.
When starting out, it’s better to focus on one channel and do that to the best of your ability before spreading yourself to other platforms. That said, your ability to handle one or more channels will also come down to the amount of help you have on hand.
(Never underestimate the power of Fiverr for completing a lot of the tasks associated with your channel plan, too.)
other valuable tips from our business blog (new win):
Complete the above exercise for each medium until your channel plan is finished. All that’s left is to follow through, measure variables, and test everything! Staying fluid in the beginning stages of your content strategy is vital as you should let the numbers tell you what to do next–not your gut!
Building a company is no easy task. After coming up with a good business idea, acquiring the capital to make it happen, and even starting to make some sales, you need to put in the work to help your business grow.
A well-developed marketing plan will help you bring in new customers and expand your scope. Though it may seem difficult at first, following these steps will set you on the right path.
Image Credit: crafting a winning marketing strategy by envato.com
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