When it comes to marketing activities, if you don’t have an agreed plan to work to, it is likely that you tend to be reactive.
Whoever in your team is carrying out marketing work is probably just waiting for management or the business owner to ask for something specific to be done, then doing it – without having a sense of the overall objectives the business wants to achieve.
For example, the boss might ask for a newsletter to be sent out to clients about a specific event, or a new product or service, or new team members coming on board.
They might ask for social media posts to go up along the same lines.
And of course, there will be the media sales reps either visiting to sell air time, print time or online advertising, or flooding your business email address with opportunities you really shouldn’t miss.
The problem with all of this, is that it is reactive not proactive. It means you haven’t sat down and clearly worked out the goals for the business, and how your marketing goals and activity can support the business goals.
So where do you start?
- Identify the business goals.
– Are you trying to gain new customers? If so, how many or how much new business are you looking for over the next 12 – 24 months?
– Are you planning to introduce new products or services? When?
– Are you making any changes to your pricing? Doing deals for example or offering promo codes?
– Have you changed the way you deliver your products or services – for example from mostly in person, to mostly online?
– Have you removed or changed any of your less profitable products or services?
– Have you added or removed any physical locations for your business?
- What marketing goals do you need to establish to help support those business goals?
Of course these depend on your answers to the questions above, but you need to look at each business goal and work out if there are specific marketing activities you need to put in place to support those things.
For example, if you are going to shift to a mainly online business model, then you may need to change or rebuild your website to offer online products or services; set up campaigns to send traffic to your new website; focus on social media activity that draws new people to your site to shop; make sure you have good search engine optimisation in place, etc.
If you have changed the locations for your business – either adding or removing, or relocating, then make sure your customers are well informed via email marketing, advertising and Google My Business updates to make sure Google Maps and Apple Maps listings are up to date.
- Who are your target audiences?
Understanding who your target audiences are is an important part of the strategy process.
You need to know as much as possible about your existing and potential customers – especially if you want to attract new customers.
– Why should they do business with you?
– What are they looking for in terms of products or services that you can deliver?
– Why should they pick your business rather than your competitors?
– Where are they most likely to spend their time online and in the real world?
Developing a clear idea of your target audiences helps tremendously in creating an effective marketing strategy.
- What Channels Should you Use?
One of the primary reasons for understanding who your target audiences are is so you can work out which channels are a good fit for your information and advertising spend.
For example, if you want to target architects and designers, you need to think about what channels they are most likely to spend time on or use for their research.
Design magazines for example, along with selected websites where they can research products that might be used in their projects.
You might also want to think about what sort of events they are likely to attend and consider attending those yourself or perhaps look at sponsorship options if available.
You also need to think about social media channels that might suit your products/services as well as your audiences. For example, if you have a product that is well suited to photography or video, then Instagram and Facebook are likely to be the best channels to focus on, possibly as well as YouTube.
If your main audience is business, then a B2B social channel like LinkedIn should be part of your plan.
Keep in mind that all of the social channels provide the opportunity for paid advertising and sponsored or promoted posts, as well as the free organic social posts, and ideally you should be doing a combination of both.
- Content Creation
Once you have worked through all of the above, you need to decide what kind of content you are going to post to reach your audience across the various channels.
You may need to spend money on photography, video and design – or you might be able to do all of this inhouse, as well as writing social media posts, writing website and blog content, and creating email marketing content and promotions.
Creating a content plan and/or a content calendar is one way to help ensure that you are regularly pushing out new content that supports your business and marketing goals.
If you have a reasonable marketing budget, you also need to consider planning specific campaigns that can be run across the relevant channels – from print (newspapers, magazines, flyers, billboards etc) to radio or tv and digital channels (including Google AdWords and social media advertising).
You may need to talk to an agency about how much you should be spending, and to book and deliver your campaigns.
Digital campaigns tend to be a lot more cost effective and flexible than more traditional media channels like radio, print and television, but it does depend on what is most likely to reach your target audiences and what sort of return on investment you are looking for.
The steps above will provide you with the basics of a marketing strategy for your organisation, and can of course be expanded on to fit your particular business and sector.
Also keep in mind what your competitors might be doing, just so you are aware (do your best not to copy them!), and look for ways to be innovative in meeting the needs of your customer base.
If you would like to talk to us about developing a marketing or communications strategy, we are always happy to help.