The free market is like a battlefield where you can’t succeed without a strategy. You want to start a new business? You need a strategy. You want to expand globally? You need a strategy. You want to become the go-to company for a service? You need a strategy. Yet, when it comes to marketing, most businesses don’t bother strategising. Without a properly laid-out marketing strategy, their efforts to attract, convert, and retain customers are directionless and inefficient. Let’s see why:
As a growing business, you have a lot on your plate.
- Not only do you need to retain existing customers, you also need to bring in new ones.
- Not only do you need to achieve short-term goals, you also need to stay on track to achieve the long-term ones.
- You also need to be wary of your competitors at all times.
- You also need to perform highly targeted marketing.
To manage all this and more, you need to plan before you act. You can’t base important business decisions on intuition, you need to take every step after careful contemplation. You need a marketing strategy; a well-researched game plan which ensures that you keep selling and converting without hitting any roadblocks. So, how do you formulate a killer marketing strategy? What kind of research must you do, and what type of questions must you answer? Let’s take a look:
How to Create a Killer Marketing Strategy
What are your goals?
You need to identify your business’ overarching ambitions before you formulate its course of action. This includes both short-term and long-term goals. Answer questions like: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? How many new customers must you attain in the next month? How much do you need to increase your customer retention rate in the next few months, to ensure that your revenue crosses a certain threshold?
It’s a recommended practice to use the SMART criteria for goal setting, which entails that your goals must be:
- Specific: There is no room for doubt. Either go for something or forego it. Know what you want, where you want it, and how you want it.
- Measurable: You must be able to track your progress regarding a goal.
- Attainable: Don’t punch above your weight.
- Relevant: Only set goals that actually help you move forward as a business.
- Time-based: Assign deadlines to your goals.
Identify your target market
What do you know about your ideal customer? Where do they live? In which industry do they work? In what age group do they fall? Where are you most likely to catch their attention (billboards, email, social media etc.)? By identifying your target market, you will be able to make focused marketing efforts, which will enhance chances of conversion.
A recommended practice in this regard is creating a buyer persona; a fictional manifestation of your ideal customer. You can create one by going through your customer database and looking for any noticeable patterns, conducting market research, and asking for input from your sales team.
What is your competitive advantage?
Customers will only do business with you if you offer them good value. As soon as they find a better deal someplace else, they will leave without saying Goodbye. So, to maintain a significant market share, you need to have a unique selling proposition (USP); something that sets you apart from the competition. This can be lower prices, an innovative feature, a promotional offer, or better customer service etc. Identify your USP and focus on it while creating marketing campaigns.
Moreover, you also need to keep close tabs on your competitors’ actions. Are they about to start a new marketing campaign focused on attracting new customers? Make sure you come up with something of your own. Are they planning to launch in a new city in the coming year? Think about its impact on your market share and your growth ambitions, and respond accordingly. Did a new company, with a slightly better service enter the market recently? Give your customers a few more reasons to stay loyal to you.
Analyse your sales pipeline
Your sales pipeline helps you visualise the different stages of the purchasing process, and where each lead is positioned at any given time. Figure out a way to separate the cold leads from the hot ones, and the fresh leads from the stagnant ones. When formulating a marketing strategy, you need to figure out the next steps regarding these different kinds of leads, while keeping your goals in mind.
Answer questions like: Have a lot of leads reached a certain stage in the funnel and then stopped making progress? How many customers have not opened any of the emails sent in the last few weeks? Are you following up with the hottest leads in a timely manner? What weaknesses are present in your customer journey that can be improved?
Define your actions
At this point, you have all of the information that you need to define your marketing actions. You know the problem areas, you know what your competitors are up to, and you know what your customers are expecting. Throw your thinking hat on and come up with the best ways to spread awareness about your products and services.
Answer questions like: Should you include a re-engagement campaign in next month’s marketing strategy? Is there a need to dispatch emails to all the people who abandoned carts recently? How frequently should you be sending emails to your target market? Do you need to release a new promotional offer to counter the discounts your competitor just announced? How many more leads do you need to convert in the next month, to stay on track with your annual targets?
A marketing strategy makes it easy to achieve and measure success. Haven’t got one? Use the steps above to create your very own marketing strategy today.