Marketing at its core is about making potential buyers aware of what you are selling. The strategy behind how this can be achieved is always evolving and adapting to everything from technology to buyer behavior, to competition, to the economy.
In this guide, we will be looking at how to create a winning Marketing Strategy Template. Giving you an outline to use for your business, your clients, and your future marketing planning.
We will be looking at all parts of your strategy, what it is, why you need it, and the components that make up a winning template.
Obviously, every business is unique and the marketing may need to be handled differently. Despite this, there is a broad amount of overlap within the Marketing Strategy world.
This crash course will aim to arm you with the tools to develop your own Marketing Strategy.
Table of Contents
1. What is a Marketing Strategy?
2. What is Strategic Marketing?
3. Why Do I Need a Marketing Strategy?
4. Why a Repeatable Marketing Strategy is Important
5. The Importance of a Scalable Marketing Strategyesired outcome
6. Marketing Strategies vs. Marketing Plans
7. Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Tactics: What’s the Difference?
8. What are the Best Marketing Strategies to Use?
9. How to Make a Marketing Strategy?
10. Desired Outcome
11. Final Thoughts
What Is A Marketing Strategy?
A Marketing Strategy is defined as the overall plans of a business to increase customers, improve sales, and generate more awareness of the products, services, or experiences.
Marketing Strategy is not to be confused with a Marketing Plan. Think of the Marketing Plan as the whole marketing process and the Marketing Strategy is what you actually do to achieve the results.
To put this into context, the Marketing Plan is like the blueprints, and the Marketing Strategy is actually building your property. One is paper-based, the other is action-based.
Marketing Plan – details the background of the company, the aims, goals, the competitors, internal analysis, external analysis, broadly covers the types of campaigns, the timetable, and the desired results.
Marketing Strategy – breaks down each area of the marketing efforts and shows how the results can actually be achieved and the types of things the business needs to do to reach the goals.
With a robust Marketing Strategy Template, you can develop your business, generate sales, increase loyalty, and improve competitive advantage, amongst other things.
Needless to say, each business will have different factors and elements that are important to them and their marketing efforts. Broadly speaking, Marketing Strategy has the same core elements that can be applied to any business.
What Is Strategic Marketing?
One of the core goals of marketing is to understand your potential customers to such an extent that you know what they want before they even know they need it. You need to create the demand, want, or need for your product in their mind.
With the right marketing and research, you can hypothetically sell anything to anyone and that is the whole basis of how marketers operate.
Strategic Marketing is defined as a long-term way of improving marketing results and used as a basis for future marketing decisions. A Marketing Strategy needs clear goals and targets so everyone knows where the business is going.
In short, this is a method used by marketing professionals and companies to guide their activities and acts as a bedrock for future results and plans.
Marketing without strategy or direction will be a sure-fire way of sinking a ton of money and getting zero results. Understanding your product, customers, business, and marketing is imperative to succeeding.
Take for instance if your whole team is on a raft, some people are paddling, some are doing nothing, some are dragging their feet in the water, and the rest are steering you in the wrong direction.
This is a perfect example of how a disorganized strategy or lack thereof can be detrimental to your business, and best case in this scenario? You go absolutely nowhere. Worst case, you sink your whole business.
Underestimating the importance of strategic marketing is a common issue, but it is completely avoidable. With this in mind, we are going to be looking at how to approach your Marketing Strategy and help you create a winning Marketing Strategy Template.
Understanding Your Business, Then Your Strategy
Knowing your business and your customers are incredibly important to Marketing Strategy and Strategic Marketing.
There are a lot of different tools that can succinctly describe a business at its core, but one of the most simple to understand is the Four Ps of Marketing, Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.
The Four Ps or ‘Marketing Mix’ is a great way to understand Strategic Marketing because they are the base level of research that is instrumental to having an organized approach to marketing.
This is what your company or client is selling, this can be a tangible or intangible product, a service, or an experience. Whatever it is that the customers will part with their money for.
This section of the Marketing Mix covers everything from brand, packaging, features, functionality, design, raw materials, and manufacture.
You want to make sure you know what the features and benefits of your product/s are so you can easily share them with your customers.
Understanding and knowing your product and why customers will be interested in it is one of the most important parts of any business. You could have the best product since sliced bread, but if no one wants to buy it, then you are going to make zero money off your amazing invention.
It does not matter which industry you are in or how good your product is, if you have priced it incorrectly you will not be able to be successful. This is why it is so vital to get this element of the Marketing Mix correct.
Your price can mean so many different things to your customers, let’s look at a few examples:
High Price – this can convey luxury and exclusivity, but also could create a sense of alienation and lack of accessibility for people wanting to spend less.
Low Price – can mean different things. It can be seen as low value or poor quality goods. But also, it could be good value for money and a wider audience.
More Expensive than Competition – customers will be reluctant to buy something they can get cheaper elsewhere. On the flip side, they may see your products are of higher quality and believe your company has better customer service.
Cheaper than Competition – your quality may be questioned and customers may be wary to buy from you. This could lead to getting more market share as price-conscious customers switch to your products.
These are just four quick examples of how your price point can affect your business and customers’ perceptions of you.
It is also important to consider your supply and demand, if your product is exclusive or limited edition, it merits a more expensive price tag. Whereas digital software typically is more accessible and cheaper due to the infinite supply.
Place relates to where you are selling your products, contrary to popular belief, Place can be either digital or physical. Think of it as the location where your customers can purchase your goods or services.
Examples of places you sell your products could be:
• Brick and Mortar Store
• Third-Party Stores
• Your Website
• Sales Teams
• Events/Trade Shows
To truly be successful in your strategy you need to be in the right place at the right time. This is the essence of marketing.
If you cannot get your products to where your customers are then you will not make any sales. Consider where your customers are, how they shop, and why they shop, this will help determine your Place.
Conducting research will give you a good grounding on how and where to sell your products. Knowing what is working for your competitors is a great way to start and give you inspiration.
This is how you make your customers aware of what you are selling. The marketing tactics that ‘promote’ your products. There are countless ways you can do this, but understanding which will work best for your target audience is the key to successful promotion.
As with Place, it is important to reach your customers where they are and how they want to be marketed to. Knowing how to promote your products to each of your different targets or demographics will give you the crooks of a winning strategy.
Ensuring you promote your brand in the right places will garner much higher results than broad sweeps hoping you will get everyone. You run the risk of alienating your audience by making your messaging too broad, so be specific, find the right methods, and reap the rewards.
Why Do I Need A Marketing Strategy?
A Marketing Strategy is an essential tool within your planning and combines different methods and ways to promote and sell your products and services to your target market.
There is a range of benefits and advantages to creating a successful Marketing Strategy Plan. With all the different channels it can sometimes be difficult to decide on the right ones for you, so this is why research is so important.
Having an effective marketing strategy plan will be the key to long-term success, growth, and sales. One of the major challenges for smaller businesses is to find cost-effective and viable methods that will lead to greater profits and sales.
With this in mind, we are going to focus on some of the core benefits of creating and implementing a Marketing Strategy.
BENEFITS OF A MARKETING STRATEGY
Reach Your Target
Selling your products and services is much easier if you can reach the people most likely to buy them or in other words, your target market.
Doing sufficient research will allow you to know your target’s habits, preferences, preferred channels, and a whole host of other useful information and data.
This information helps you shape your methods and delivery to best serve these customers and promote your business further.
Reaching your potential buyers where they are is vital to being successful. If you are targeting 18-24 year olds, for example, using traditional advertising will not work, but social media and digital marketing will be much more effective, as a rule of thumb.
Understand Your Customers
As a direct follow-up to the previous point, it is important to know your customers and understand what they want.
Creating a Marketing Strategy Plan will give you the blueprints to design your business to be much more appealing to them. You will be able to find viable ways to engage them and keep them loyal.
Ensuring you can effectively deal with your current customers is incredibly important. If you can not keep up with demand or have slow customer service times you might be biting off more than you can chew.
Researching your customers will allow you to scale up and market to new customers effectively without alienating your current base. Making your customers feel valued and important to you is a sure-fire way to improve your sales moving forward.
Find New Buyers
There is no denying the value of current customers and developing brand loyalty, but having new customers and buyers coming in will always be important too.
Regardless of your business type or model, it would be hard to maintain your business and impossible to grow without an influx of money or new customers.
Luckily due to the sheer amount of options businesses have to reach and attract new customers, it is not as hard as it was for a solely bricks-and-mortar style establishment.
Designing a loyalty or referral plan is a common way businesses generate new business. If your customers are happy with your products and services they are much more likely to recommend you to friends and family.
Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing is something that may seem less important in the digital age, but this will create a snowball effect that is great for any business.
Generally speaking, people are quick to forget things, and with the sheer amount of companies, marketing, and offers available it can be hard to stand out and stay relevant.
This can be even more challenging in a contemporary market due to the prevalence of online and digital marketing which makes businesses around the world accessible to everyone.
With this being said, creating a Marketing Strategy will allow you to negate these issues and actually turn them into opportunities.
A happy customer will not stay that way forever, and knowing the difference between happy and loyal is an important thing to remember.
Competitors will always be interested in snatching away your customers, so ensure you serve your customers. This could be as simple as engaging on social media, giving special promotions and deals to your most loyal customers, or a newsletter to stay top-of-mind.
Ensuring you are heading in the right direction for your business can sometimes be challenging and if you are not careful your employees can be pulling in different directions.
On top of this, if you are a business owner you may be spinning a lot of different plates and have a lot of tasks taking priority at one time.
This is why a Marketing Strategy is so important, you can take a step back, research, and review to make the most effective and informed decisions moving forward.
Find Your USP
Building your brand and understanding your business is as important as understanding your customers. If you do not know what you are offering, how can you sell it?
You need to find ways to showcase why you are better than the competitors and why your business is the best choice for your potential buyers.
Developing an effective Marketing Strategy Plan will guide you in discovering why you are unique. In turn, this will help you dictate how you plan out your marketing around your strengths and communicate your benefits.
Knowing what your business excels at and your Unique Selling Point/Proposition (USP) helps dictate your moves and strategy.
Creating A Repeatable Marketing Strategy
Although it would not be recommended to fully repeat your marketing strategy, knowing what is successful and what needs adjustments gives you a base for your next rework.
Having a template you can start from will save you a ton of time and effort. Using your template you will have a stepping stone to improve and adapt your old strategy and make it more successful.
Think of your marketing strategy as a shopping list, you know the kind of things you are looking for each time, but maybe you change the ingredients and experiment with new ideas.
Each time we go shopping for our strategy’s ingredients we might edit what we use, but the end result is the same. We are looking to improve our business and sell more.
Marketing Strategies Vs. Marketing Plans
Needless to say, there are a lot of nuances between how different businesses and organizations conduct their work and marketing.
The below table gives a simplified version of these two types of detailed marketing elements.
This will serve as a quick overview of what most strategies and plans are. It is by no means a definitive list, and there is some overlap depending on how companies are organized and marketing is conducted.
Marketing Strategy Vs. Marketing Tactics
When people think of marketing strategy, they probably conjure up thoughts of what marketing and advertising physically look like.
This is far from what marketing strategy actually is, in fact, it is the blueprints and planning. Marketing strategy is the behind-the-scenes parts of your marketing that determines the direction, flow, and type of marketing you are going to implement.
So what is the difference between Marketing Strategy and Marketing Tactics?
Marketing Strategy is:
• Blueprints and plans
• The overall designs for how you are going to conduct your marketing
• Intangible, it is HOW you are going to attack
Marketing Tactics are:
• How the strategy is implemented
• Specific actions to make the strategy work
• The execution of the strategy
For example, a tactic could be creating a case study. The content created around this will be how you execute your marketing tactic. This can be everything from emails, supporting blog posts, videos, landing pages, and social posts.
What Are The Best Marketing Strategies To Use?
The short answer is there is no one strategy that is the best.
Every company will have its own cocktail of different strategies that will be more relevant to their business, customers, and budget.
Below we are going to look at some of the key strategic areas that organizations can deploy. Discussing how they can be used and implemented in your business.
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING STRATEGY
As with any successful strategy, your social media approach will be a summary of what you want to do and plan to achieve. The better your plan is, the more likely it is to succeed.
You want to make your social media strategy realistic and not too broad.
Set Your Goals
As with any strategy or plan, goals play a big part in your decision-making process. Knowing what you want to achieve will allow you to work towards the result.
Goals can be broken down into a whole range of categories but there are four major ones when it comes to Social Media Strategy:
• More Traffic & Visitors
• New Followers & Engagement
• Increased Sales & Leads
• Additional Subscribers
Knowing what kind of goal you are looking at will help dictate your strategy and how you approach your social media.
Typically it is best to develop SMART Goals for your strategy as these give you a good foundation for success and realistic goals.
A SMART example would be something like “increase our Instagram followers by 10% by the end of the year”. This is SMART – it’s Specific, you can Measure it, it’s Achievable, Realistic, and has a Time-frame.
Do an Audit
One of the best things to do at the start of your Social Media Strategy planning is to take a look at your current efforts on social media. If you are just starting out, then obviously you can skip this step.
In your audit you want to look at a few key areas of your social channels:
• Are you using the right platforms for your audience?
• What are your current demographics?
• What content is working well? What is not?
• How do your competitors use their social media?
• What type of posts are the most popular?
• Are you using ads? Do you want to?
These are just some suggestions for the kind of things you want to review in your audit. As with most things in marketing, doing research is a great way to find improvements and weaknesses.
This audit might highlight some areas you didn’t know were good or bad in your current social media efforts.
You might even find that one of your social channels is doing more harm than good and is just wasting time and resources, so do not be scared to consider deleting it.
Think about these three factors when deciding on a channel’s importance:
• Does my audience use this platform?
• If yes, how do they use it?
• Will this account help us reach our goals
Social Media has a ton of benefits, but one of the major ones is the fact that is so measurable and trackable. You can see exactly how well a post did, see how many followers you have, and a whole host of different metrics.
Understanding and using these metrics is vital to your social media strategy’s success. There is a plethora of different tools and analytics you can get for your social channels that will help you measure how effective your strategy is.
A lot of companies look at the top-level statistics when they are measuring success, but that does not always tell the whole story. These are often called vanity statistics and do not necessarily translate into success and sales.
Having a million followers but no buyers is not going to make you money. Try looking at different things like:
• Click-through rates
These are much more useful and give you a clearer picture of the value of your social strategy as compared to something as pedestrian as followers.
Consider Your Approach
Deciding how you are going to approach your social media strategy can sometimes be overwhelming and there can be a lot to consider.
This can be broken down into a few important questions:
• Who are your customers?
• Where are they?
• Which social media do they use?
• What are your goals?
• When will you communicate?
• How are you going to execute your strategy?
Each of these questions will help hone in your strategy and might even give you some ideas of what to look at it next.
You will also need to approach each of your chosen social media channels differently. Each social channel has different content that works best for it and a different demographic and algorithms to factor it.
To put this into context, a long-form blog post on LinkedIn will not translate to a photo-focused platform like Instagram. Although there is some overlap, you will want to have different strategies for each channel.
Having one clear goal for each social media site will help you focus on each one as a separate entity.
Research Your Audience
Creating a social media strategy without first knowing your audience would be incredibly naive. Designing your strategy should be done post-research to give the best chance of success and making attainable and pragmatic goals.
There is virtually no area in marketing that does not encompass research, and social media is definitely an important area to get right. We see so many social media success stories, but there are even more failures that can cost your company a lot.
A term you often hear is that things that are on the internet are there forever. Basically meaning if a company does something wrong on social media there will be a backlash and stories about it almost instantly. Even if the post is deleted, people will screenshot it and post about it.
Creating target customer profiles is an excellent way to hone your strategy. Knowing different things about your customers will give you a good basis for your planning. Some things to consider would be:
• Job industry and title
• Hobbies and interests
• Preference of social channels
Planning out an effective social media plan on paper is one thing, but executing it is another thing entirely. As a fast-moving medium, it is not uncommon to have to pivot and adapt your social media strategy on the fly.
One way to do this in a much more organized fashion is to collect data and track your metrics. Reviewing your results every couple of weeks or monthly will allow you to get a better understanding of how your channels and strategy are performing.
If you are running social media campaigns and not tracking data, you are doing it wrong and are setting yourself up for wasted time, budget, and effort.
Some of the benefits of collecting data are:
• A better understanding of your audience
• Can help adapt your strategy
• Saves time and effort
• Guides decisions
• Shows progress towards goals
• Gives non-marketing staff tangible results
Analyze Your Competitors
Doing a social media competitive analysis is a great way to understand what your competitors are doing and what is working for them and what is not.
If you are newer in the industry you will get a better idea of the norms, and the kind of things your audience might like to see. Seeing their feeds will not only give you ideas but it will help you set your own targets and goals.
For example, one of your competitors might have a massive Instagram following but be fairly non-existent on Facebook. This could mean that Instagram is where the customers are, or that there is an opportunity to develop a Facebook campaign.
Depending on your situation, sometimes it can be easier to work on a separate platform as opposed to fighting uphill against a dominant competitor. The answers will come to you in your research and understanding of the industry.
Find What Works Well
As with any strategy or plan they are constantly evolving, especially in the world of Social Media. Due to the nature of social platforms, things are always changing, trends come and go, and what works will change every month.
Setting aside an amount of time to check your strategy every month or two is recommended. You can take a look at what is working and what is not. This way you can adapt and pivot your strategy to fit the changing needs or success.
If a certain type of post is working, maybe look at doing more of it, and if something is not, then maybe you want to scrap it and go back to the drawing board.
There are countless success stories in the world of social media so do not be discouraged if things are not happening overnight.
The more viable strategy for social media is to be consistent, hoping for a viral sensation is not the way to conduct a realistic plan.
EMAIL MARKETING STRATEGY
The importance of email marketing is often overlooked in the contemporary marketing environment, but they are still very much a part of a winning strategy.
Emails can be a vital part of your sales, marketing, operations, and customer service elements of your business and can be make or break for your new customers.
We can all probably think of a time we got an email by mistake or did not get an email we were supposed to receive from a company.
Understanding how email fits into your overall marketing is vital to designing a new strategy, regardless of your business size.
Email marketing hit somewhat of a renaissance a few years back and has stayed relevant since, this is mainly due to the increasing popularity and effectiveness of email marketing tools.
Depending on your business size and email list, you may or may not benefit from using these. But it is rare to find a company that would not be able to streamline its marketing using an email marketing tool.
There are a wide variety of options available and each business will have its own preference and different features that are more important to them.
You can do your own research into which will be best for you, your budget, and your design needs, but it’s definitely recommended to have an email client if you are sending out a lot of emails.
Being able to access the data from these tools will give you a lot of useful information, from click rates, opens, bounced emails, and more.
Define Your Audience
Regardless of your business size and industry, you will need to build up an email subscriber list. To get this together you need to know who your audience is.
This is your ideal customer who you want to attract and sell your product or services to. Finding your target audience can sometimes be a little tricky, but it is an important part of growing your business and email strategy.
Answer some of these types of questions to help narrow down who should be in your email list:
• What does our current best customer look like?
• What do they have in common?
• Why do they buy our products or services?
• What are their pain points? (How we can help them)
• Do we provide something our competitors do not?
Knowing who you want to reach and the messages you want to convey to them in your emails is a large part of the battle and overall strategy.
Using the information you gather and learn you can put together different customer profiles which will help you hone in your efforts to each group.
To put this into context, you could give each customer set a name for ease. Then you can design your campaigns around Tom, Dick, and Harry’s different personas and unique needs.
A theme you will see a lot in marketing strategy is setting goals. They are important in every part of your marketing and would be naive to overlook.
Without goals set, your emails will be being sent with no direction or purpose. You will need to have some form of strategy to determine how you approach your email marketing.
You want to be able to showcase that your emails are making an impact and will help improve sales and relationships. As with any goals, you want to look at the SMART system.
There will be different goals for your customer groups, and there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to emails. In fact, that is a sure-fire way to determine the impact of your marketing efforts.
Map Out Workflows
The term ‘workflows’ sounds a little intense but it is just a way of guiding your would-be customers to a sale or current customers to an additional purchase or building loyalty.
To put it simply, an email workflow is just a connected series of emails that form part of email automation. These emails are triggered by an action, such as making a purchase, signing up to a mailing list, or behavior on your site.
Workflow emails can be used to accomplish a goal such as onboarding, post-purchase customer service, and order tracking.
Setting up these workflows correctly can give you additional personalized touchpoints with your customers and guide them through their customer journey.
In fact, personalized emails are significantly more effective than generic ones.
Optimize Your Emails
As with any strategy, there are always going to be some changes you will need to make and optimizations to improve your marketing efforts. Emails are no exception to this rule.
There are a lot of ways you can optimize your emails to ensure your strategy is working the way you want it to. Take an email tool, for instance, you have a whole range of options to optimize and improve your emails for best click rate, opens, and conversions.
Knowing that nothing is set in stone is the best way to approach your strategy. You cannot just write all your emails out and leave them, they will always be adjusted and adapted.
You would be shocked at how many companies still have not optimized their emails for mobile devices and they look clunky and unprofessional. This is a simple yet important factor to look at in your email marketing strategy.
Optimization can be as easy and seeing what is working and what is not and changing it, one of the easiest ways to do this is conducting A/B tests…
Running A/B tests is a simple but effective way to check how well your email is doing and creating better email campaigns. The basic idea is that you send two versions of an email to your email list, version A and version B.
Each version will be a little different and you can customize what you are switching out each time. Suggested edits for an A/B test:
• Subject line
• CTAs (Call to Action buttons)
• Different offers
• General wording and copy
If you are using an email marketing tool, the A/B testing features are most likely included and are an invaluable tool that is often overlooked by most basic users. A simple change of wording or subject line can be enough to convert a sale or get a new customer.
INBOUND MARKETING STRATEGY
Inbound Marketing 101
Inbound Marketing is defined as finding the customers who are looking for you. This is about improving your business and helping your potential customers answer their questions and gain information.
Traditional marketing is disruptive and is aimed at people who have not expressed a need for something, whereas inbound is designed to fulfill a need.
To put this into context, you might write an informational blog found via a Google search, often these are centered around questions.
Here’s an example – “What is the Best Security System for a Small Business?”, you will create this content around their search and help them get an answer. It is about building trust, authority, and thought-leadership.
With Inbound Marketing you are reaching out to them to help, not to sell. This is just one reason why Inbound plays an important part in your Marketing Strategy Plan
The core of the Inbound Methodology is the four stages of inbound – Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight. Let’s take a look at each of these and how they can work as part of your Marketing Strategy Plan.
The first step is bringing in traffic, so creating informative content and pages on your website is a great way to start. Typically blogs, social media, content pages, and keywords are used at this stage of the inbound methodology.
Creating content that people are looking for and want to see is the basis of this step. A few examples to start this strategy are as follows:
• Regularly blogging on points of interest
• Having an active social media
• Understanding and using keywords
• Website optimization
When designing this part of your strategy it is good to do some research and get a good understanding of what your would-be customers are searching for and interested in.
Once you have generated enough traffic to your site you can start working towards the next section, Convert.
The second stage of an Inbound Strategy is Convert. This is the process of developing the traffic you are getting from your informative blogs and site content from visitors to leads.
This can be done in a wide range of ways but the methodology suggests these:
• Calls to Action
• Landing Pages
• Contact Tracking
A Call to Action (CTA) is normally a button such as ‘contact us’ on the bottom of your blog, which spurs the visitor into making an action. This can be taking them to an e-book sign-up, a form, a contact us page, or something to a similar effect.
The goal of the CTA is to get them to make a decision and ideally enter their information to convert them into a lead.
Forms are fairly self-explanatory and just offer a way to gain insight about your visitors who are interested in your business.
Landing Pages are where your visitor will land after they click a link or CTA and as a rule of thumb you want it to be separate from the site’s navigation
The penultimate step in an Inbound Marketing Strategy is Close. This is about turning those leads into sales and in turn customers.
The process of this varies depending on your business type and industry but some core examples of this strategy step in action are:
• CRM integrations
• Lead scoring
This is often a sales and marketing joint effort step because by the end of this the lead should become a customer. Again, this depends on your team set-up and staffing.
Closing is about using tools and information to bring the lead to a conclusion and help them buy the product or service you are selling. This could be by providing situational or individual information to help spur on the decision-making process.
The final stage of the Inbound Marketing Strategy is Delight. This is the process of keeping your customers happy and improving their loyalty.
Too many businesses overlook their current customers in search of new ones, so catering for them is incredibly important in your inbound strategy.
The overall goal here is to create brand loyalty and show your customers that they are valued and important to you. Some examples of how to achieve this are:
• Social media
• Tailored CTAs
• Marketing Automation
There are a lot of different ways within these areas, whether it’s special promotions for these customers, giving them access to products or services early, or granting them additional privileges to reward loyalty.
The benefits of creating a strategy around these customers reaches further than just them being more loyal and buying more. If they are happy they are much more likely to recommend you and share their positive experiences.
Understanding the importance of Inbound Marketing in your Marketing Strategy Plan is just one tool in your arsenal and will put you on your way to your goals and creating a competitive advantage.
MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY
What is Marketing Communications?
As the name suggests, this is how your brand is portrayed via the messaging that is put out, this can be online, offline, in-person, or even in the press.
When thinking about Marketing Comms remember the 4 Rights:
The right message, at the right time, to the right audience, in the right place.
Your Marketing Communications Strategy will bleed into every other area of your business and marketing and if done correctly will improve all aspects it touches and improve your brand cohesion.
Be Consistent Everywhere
Although different channels may require slightly different tactics, you want to ensure you are showcasing a consistent brand across all of your mediums.
Having consistent branding is not just for show, it actually provides meaningful results too. There is a wide range of benefits from keeping your branding universal, but the risks of not doing it are potentially more important.
If you are inconsistent you run the risk of losing potential customers and confusing your current ones. As we alluded to above, you cannot just post the same things on all of your channels, but you can keep the theme and tone similar.
For instance, if you are a fun smoothie brand, but suddenly start posting highly political content, you are likely to upset and confuse your audience.
You want to have one consistent voice across all platforms.
Understand How to Convey Your USP
Knowing what sets you apart from other brands and competitors will help you in creating an effective and long-term Marketing Communications Strategy.
Once you have a clear picture of your Unique Selling Point (USP) you can plan how you can highlight and communicate this to your target market.
Every company has one, even if you have no competition, that is your USP the fact you are a monopoly. So think about how you can portray your value and your expertise to your customers.
Know the Pain Points
An important part of your Marketing Communications Strategy is knowing why your customers would be inclined to buy your products or services. You want to be an expert in the solutions you are providing to the customers’ pain points.
Once you know the pain points, then you can work out how to address the different audiences and their unique needs with your communications.
Customers are much more likely to buy from you if they feel you understand them and know what solution they are looking for. If you have done your research correctly, you might even know their pain points before they do!
Embed the Brand from Day One
Creating branding and communications documents for your new staff will allow you to give them a good idea of how your company operates and how to portray the brand both online and offline.
If all of your team are on the same page and creating messaging that is consistent across everything you will look much more like one company not a rabble of people pulling in different directions.
The most successful companies are the ones who distill their branding and communication style from the get-go and have a clear picture of who they are and how they interact with their customers.
Keywords are the heart and soul of any SEO strategy. You will need to conduct keyword research as the first step of your search engine optimization strategy.
Google has a lot of helpful tools and ways you can find out the keywords, from suggestions, to top searches, to synonyms, and more. Unsurprisingly, these make for great keywords as they have come from the search engine itself.
To put it simply there are two main types of keywords, Short Tail and Long Tail. Each has its own purpose and benefits, and a successful strategy involves both types.
As a rule of thumb, the long-tail keywords are often less competitive and are much more focused. You can often rank quicker for long-tail keywords because of this.
Analyze Competitors and Google
Once you have some keywords to work with you can start looking at your competition, and more importantly analyze the first page of Google.
Everyone knows you want to be on the front page of a search and making sure you are on your way to the first page of the search results is instrumental to your SEO strategy.
Although it does not happen overnight, you can start putting together your strategy to get you towards your goal.
Typing your keywords into Google and searching for them will shed some light on who the big players are and what they are ranking well on. Take note of any patterns you notice, the types of content, companies, and pages you see listed.
When you see the style of content being produced then you can go about preparing a similar one of your own.
Find Your USP
When you are looking at your SEO strategy you need to either be better than the competition or offer something unique. This is how you will be able to break into the SEO results.
By being unique you can stand out from the rest of the pack and potentially get some of that traffic and climb the rankings.
If everyone is writing lists like ‘5 ways to do this’ or ‘10 reasons to do that’, look at making an ultimate guide, or something different to get the traffic.
By being better you can go for the same kind of content but up the ante on the previous ones. Let’s say all the other posts are ‘top 20 things in the industry’, why not do the top 50? Or 100? And blow them out of the water.
Both of these methods can and do work, it just depends on what your situation is, your budget, and your time allocation for your SEO strategy.
Make Shareable Content
One of the best ways to develop your SEO strategy is to have posts that are stacked with statistics, they are easy to share, digestible, and can guarantee you will get some backlinks.
Backlinks are still a core piece of SEO rankings and strategy. There is a huge correlation between the number of backlinks used and the position on Google’s prestigious first page.
Think of this strategy as your hook, using data and stats will give you higher quality posts and much more likely to get shared. The more traffic, shares, and engagement you get, the higher up Google you will climb.
You want to make your site a thought leader and a trusted source of information. There are a lot of different hooks you can look at, and each industry operates a little differently. With research and time, you will work out what works best for you.
Optimizing your keywords within your pages is incredibly important and is often done incorrectly. There are a lot of ways you can improve your on-page SEO and one of the best ways still is internal linking.
This does not mean linking pages all over the place, there has to be some rhyme and reason to your strategy. The best method for internal linking is to link from your high-authority web pages to the newer ones you are trying to develop.
Take for instance you get a lot of traffic on one of your older posts, you could use keyword-rich anchor text as your internal links to connect your content.
Using synonyms and similar terms is a viable way to increase your on-page SEO too. This is by using words or phrases that are similar and interchangeable with your copy.
Finding and using these keywords will help improve your SEO.
Even your URL can have an impact on your search engine optimization strategy. You will find a lot more success using short URLs as opposed to long ones, a practice that not many people do.
Try using your keyword or short version of your title to create this shorter SEO title, if your post is ‘5 best rums for the summer” the URL could be “summer-rums”.
Optimize for Search Style
Finding ways to create your strategy around how people are searching is vital to being successful. It is not always enough to write the most detailed and long-form post if your searchers are looking for quick tips.
Just because you think your content is the best thing since sliced bread does not mean that Google agrees, so take note of how people are searching and the results they are looking for.
Creating an SEO strategy that takes into account how people are searching and their intentions will get you well on the way to being successful in your search engine optimization.
Make Your Content Pop
If you have ever been on a website that is messy, disorganized, or badly formatted you start to appreciate all the times you have had a good user experience.
Having good content is not enough, you need to have good-looking content too. There’s a lot of different ways to do this, here are some examples.
• Shorter Sentences
• More Headings
• Visualizations and Infographics
Although most of these do not specifically affect your SEO they will affect the overall quality of your posts and will pay dividends in the long run. Whether this is more shares, more views, or improved engagement.
Obviously, the ALT text used in some of these can be useful to SEO but broadly speaking they are just aesthetic changes.
Adapt, Evolve, and Update
Marketing Strategy is a blend of both science and art, there is a lot of data, analytics, and tools available to help optimize, but you still need the creativity to develop winning tactics.
Nothing is set in stone, especially in the fast-moving digital world of marketing, so be prepared to adapt, evolve, and update your strategy as you move forward.
Digital marketing and SEO change all the time. Some things will work, some will not, but as long as you are prepared to pivot you will be fine.
How To Make A Marketing Strategy
There are a lot of various elements and pieces that go into a successful marketing strategy, in this section, we will be looking at parts you need to include outside of the individual areas strategies (i.e. approach to Social, Email, etc…)
We will quickly cover each of these sections, you may wish to explore them in more depth if you are unfamiliar with any of the terms and want more clarity.
SWOT has been used in marketing and business for a long time and is a simple way to look at both internal and external factors that affect your company.
A SWOT Analysis is broken into 4 areas, two that focus on the internal environment and two that focus on the external environment:
Internal – Strengths and Weaknesses
External – Opportunities and Threats
Now let’s look at each one briefly, how they are defined, and how you complete each section.
This is what your company is doing well, what you excel at, and how you are the best in the market. This can be as simple as a list or a short paragraph on each strength.
You are looking to highlight the best parts of your business here, and present them in a simple way for others to interpret. This could be as simple as your USP, how you sell your business to your potential customers.
In this section of your SWOT Analysis, you are looking at what your business lacks, your limitations, and areas you are looking at improving within the company.
Do not get too bogged down on this, you are just looking at the top-level weaknesses that can have the biggest impact if they are addressed.
These are things outside of your business that can have an impact on your business growth and success. This could be everything from expanding into a new market/product to changing consumer needs, to a successful marketing strategy.
You are looking at factors that will help your business that is technically outside of your control and you have a first-hand influence on. They are areas you could move into, decisions you could make, or chances (opportunities) that present themselves.
On the flip side of the opportunities are the threats. Similarly, these are outside of your control and have the potential to be detrimental to your business or have a negative impact.
Threats can be the emergence of competitors, changes to laws, customer attitudes and opinions changing, and environmental factors. They can come from a lot of different places, but try to think about the ones that are more likely to occur.
SWOT Summary –
The premise of SWOT is to showcase your business inside and out, what works, what does not, what is a threat, and what could help you grow.
The lists could be almost infinite, but try to focus on the top 5 or so points in each category to give both variety and depth.
Try to pick SWOT factors that are the most important or most likely, for example planning for the threat of natural disasters would be a waste of time compared to the threat of a new competitor.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Understanding who your current or target audience are is vital to being successful with your strategy and your future marketing efforts.
If you do not know who your audience is it is going to be near impossible to establish a connection and get your would-be customers to buy into your brand.
Being able to target customers who are interested in your brand and your products in a way that suits them is the crooks of marketing. Let’s explore this concept more deeply.
Knowing your audience gives you the ability to:
• Design each campaign around the audience
• Use language and terms that resonate with them
• Connect with them and their pain points
• Understand what they want vs what they need
• Know how to reach your audience (i.e. online vs in-person)
These are just a few of the benefits and uses of knowing your audience and each company will have its own factors that might affect this too.
SEGMENTING YOUR AUDIENCE
Once you broadly know who your target market is it is good to start segmenting them into smaller groups which will help you determine different tactics for these groups.
There are four types of market segmentation, let’s take a look at each one in detail below:
This is typically the most common type of segmentation that people think of and it is a fairly straightforward way of breaking down your audience.
Demographic segmentation uses non-character traits to determine the customers. Simply put, this is WHO your customers are.
Examples of demographic segmentation:
• Education Level
One of the major benefits of this type of segmentation is the ease of access to the information. It is often low-cost to obtain and can be determined fairly easily.
You will often find demographic segmentation combined with one of the other types to further narrow down the audience.
To put this into context, let’s say you target customers based on their age because your product is more suitable for older customers. Thus, it would not be a good idea to waste the budget on a younger audience. This is why you need to demographically segment your potential customers.
To oversimplify, this is the WHY of your customers. Psychographic Segmentation focuses on customers’ interests and personalities.
This is often confused with Demographic but it is more about emotional and mental traits. These characteristics are not always as simple to determine.
Psychographic will help you understand your audience in a much deeper way, you will be able to get valuable insight into their needs, preferences, and motivations. In turn, this will help you design more effective marketing for them.
Examples of ways to segment with Psyhcographic attributes:
• Hobbies and interests
• Personality traits
• Values and morals
Although this is tougher to obtain and determine than other methods of segmentation, the results often speak for themselves and psychographic can be an effective marketing tool.
If done correctly you will appeal to the customers a lot better and create a more personal connection.
Understanding customers’ Psychographic profiles will allow you to make much more informed decisions and even understand why customers buy or do not buy your products or services.
As the name says, this is a form of segmentation that focuses on your customers’ locations. Although this may seem like a basic method, it can be very effective if deployed correctly.
Think of this form of segmentation as the WHERE. Where are your customers, how do you reach them, what works best for their location?
Some examples of Geographic Segmentation would be:
• Zip/Postal Code
Using Geographic factors you can hone in on specific details about your customers and their locations.
Whether this is offering free shipping to their location, focusing on the fact you are local to them, or picking a more rural area that would benefit more from your products or services.
Grouping customers by their location can be useful in a whole variety of industries. A good example would be a restaurant using a 15-mile menu, where everything is sourced locally, using a radius filter to target people who are within that area.
The fourth type of segmentation is Behavioral which can be defined as the HOW. Digital and e-commerce businesses often use this due to the little amount of data you need to make this an effective method.
As the name implies, you are grouping customers on their behaviors. This could be everything from how they interact with your site, to their habits, to their loyalty.
Some examples of how to segment for behaviors would be:
• Brand loyalty
• Interactions with your company
• Browsing habits
• Spending patterns
• Purchasing habits
• Usage rate
When you segment your audience based on behaviors you can create messaging and marketing that caters to their needs and wants.
Understanding someone’s behavior helps you tailor-make marketing and much more likely to successfully win their business and trust. This data is often collected via cookies and information in CRMs.
Understanding what your competitors are doing is a vital part of your Marketing Strategy Plan. The basic concept is to evaluate the competition and compare and contrast their strengths, weaknesses, and position.
There are three major types of competitors you should be aware of:
• Direct – businesses who offer the same products or services, to the same audience
• Indirect – companies who have the same or similar products but target a different market or need
• Tertiary – this is a similar product but is not competing with you, but they have the potential to move into your market
In your competitive analysis you will want to cover a few areas:
Background of Competitors (business size, products, locations, employees, etc..)
Marketing/Sales Channels (brick and mortar, online, socials, traditional, third party, etc…)
Copy and Messaging (how they communicate with their customers, their website, socials, and content)
Digital Footprint (how they perform on SEO, the pages on their site, the social media following)
Summary of Findings (make a shortlist of key points you found about them to easily identify strategies)
Regardless of your business size, you will need to set aside some budget for conducting this strategy and the marketing methods you have chosen.
You will need to know roughly how much is available to be able to calculate what to put where, and the potential for Return On Investment (ROI).
This can be as simple as a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Sheets, just saying how much money per month is going to be allocated to marketing.
Creating goals will not only help you stay on track but give you a direction to target your efforts in. If you do not set goals you will be running around like a headless chicken and are much more likely to fail in your strategy.
Going back to the SMART framework you can create goals that are easy to understand, track, measure, and achieve.
You can set goals in both marketing and business. Business goals affect the businesses as a whole and give the overall picture. Whereas marketing goals are much more specific and ones that your strategy can influence.
BEST MARKETING CHANNELS FOR YOUR TARGET
Getting your marketing messaging to the right customers in the right place is instrumental to the success of your strategy.
Assuming you have already conducted your marketing research by this point, you should have a good idea of what your customers look like, how they interact with you, and the channels they use the most.
What works for one target will not always work for another. With that in mind, here are some of the most common marketing channels used in the industry.
• Website (Mostly static, but tweaked infrequently)
• Updated Content (ebooks, blog, whitepapers)
• Social (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, etc..)
• SEO and PPC (ads, search traffic, campaigns)
• Email (workflows, subscribers, order notifications, customer service)
• Traditional (Billboards, posters, bus ads, partnerships, endorsements)
This is not an exhaustive list, and you will probably have additional ones you want to utilize. This is just to give you a flavor of the variety out there at your disposal.
THE MARKETING FUNNEL
The Marketing Funnel is sometimes referred to as the customer journey, and it is the stages your potential buyers go through to become a patron of your business.
It is broken into 3 parts:
Top of the Funnel (TOFU) – When visitors are gaining awareness of your brand and discovering what you do.
Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) – Customers are considering you as a business and doing more research on you and your products (and often your competitors too).
Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) – They are ready to purchase and are satisfied with the research they have conducted.
The premise of this is so you can target each stage of this Marketing Funnel in different ways, giving information, advice, and help to each set of people on their buyer journey. Guiding them towards their purchase, consider how to approach each one differently.
The importance of having a strong and consistent brand is vital in the 21st century, with the sheer amount of marketing people are exposed to, it is easy to get lost in the noise.
Having a clear-cut identity in your strategy, your marketing, your copy, and your customer service will develop a much stronger connection to your customers.
Outlining your brand voice will help everyone stay consistent and make you sound much more like a company and less like a rag-tag bunch of individuals.
Creating a short set of brand voice guidelines will allow everyone to be coming from one tone of voice.
If your strategy is the macro, then your tactics are the micro. Tactics are the ways to achieve the strategy, the projects, the campaigns, and the moves you make.
There are countless tactics you can deploy to help you move towards your goals and overall strategy completion.
Given an infinite amount of time and budget, anyone could achieve anything, but unfortunately, that is not how the world works. This is exactly why you need to choose tactics that are the most likely to succeed, and in some instances, the most cost-effective too.
To put this into context, let’s look at some examples of tactics you could implement:
• Creating a PPC campaign
• Developing your social channels
• Utilizing new media such as video marketing
• Designing new content and lead magnets (eg. ebooks)
• Making a monthly e-newsletter
• Optimizing your search engine marketing
CHOOSING YOUR METRICS
Having the best marketing strategy in the world is irrelevant if you are not tracking your performance and seeing how you are progressing towards your goals.
The metrics you keep track of are based on your goals, although there are some common ones in a few different areas:
• Return on Investment (ROI)
• Customer Acquisition Cost
• Conversion Rate
• Brand Awareness
• Click-Through Rate (CTR)
• Cost Per Click (CPC)
• Impression Share
• Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)
• Quality Score
• Organic Traffic
• Bounce Rate
• Page Views
• Top Pages
• Click-Through Rate
• Email Opens
• Bounce Rate
• Social Traffic
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Metrics
• Search Traffic
• Keyword Rankings
• Domain Authority
• Page Load Speed
This is obviously just a few examples of some of the areas you can utilize in your Marketing Strategy Plan to develop your business. Each company will have its own unique set of metrics that will be useful to them and provide data for their goals.
AUTOMATING YOUR MARKETING
This is an often misunderstood part of marketing, and should not be overused.
This does not mean putting your marketing on autopilot and leaving it, it just a way to streamline the process, it still needs careful supervision and decision making.
When done correctly automation can work wonders for your business, and when done incorrectly it can be detrimental and create issues and disconnects for the customers.
There is a wide range of Marketing Automation Tools here are some examples:
• Constant Contact
Each one has its own benefits and drawbacks, and your budget will probably determine if you even use one at all, but they are very helpful if used correctly.
ANALYZING YOUR PERFORMANCE
If you are not analyzing your results then you are missing out on a core element of your marketing strategy. Not only will you save time and effort, but you will get to know what is working and what is not.
There are a plethora of tools and forms of data that can give you simple and detailed information which will help you guide your strategy.
Not analyzing your performance is like having a competitive sports game and not keeping track of the scores, it does not make any sense.
Creating a viable and successful marketing strategy plan will not just happen out of thin air and there is a lot of work that goes into it working out.
There are countless factors and extraneous variables that affect each business and what works for you might not work for someone else.
The beauty of marketing is that it is creative, it is an art, not a science. With this being said, there are several ways to track and analyze your performance, and doing that is vital to being successful.
Having a detailed marketing strategy plan will give you the foundation to push your marketing forwards and improve your company. You will be able to get everyone on the same page and pulling in the same direction.
Once you have your strategy in place you can work on improving it and editing it to best suit your needs and changes within your business and the external environment. As opposed to worrying about what you are going to do next.
The desired outcome for any marketing strategy plan is to remove the guesswork and improve your business in a range of ways. If done correctly the strategy can vastly elevate your organization, regardless of the industry, size, or budget.
Marketing Strategy Template Summary
Hopefully, now you have a good idea of what is included within a Marketing Strategy and the importance of each of the different elements and information.
Creating a successful strategy is definitely an art, not a science, so be flexible, be reactive and remember that things can always change.
Think of this as a blueprint, but the final house might look a little different depending on the conditions and lots of extraneous variables.