Posted at Mar 26, 2020 4:55:00 PM by THAT Agency | Share
There are many key elements of a marketing strategy. Chances are you've read some of them 10,000 times. The obvious ones are repeated so often because they're true. At the same time, when we get so used to hearing these elements, we can begin to miss some of the more important details and lessons. An effective marketing strategy relies on those details that begin to get overlooked. Even the obvious elements run deeper than you think:
1. Do you really know your audience?
One of the most important key elements of a marketing strategy is to know your audience. This seems easy, but it's different from making assumptions about your audience. Assumptions are based on stereotypes and what's worked in the past. Know your audience through data.
Know how they engage, and where. Ask current customers questions about their experiences. Have data on their preferences. An effective marketing strategy must be tailored to your audience. To create such a marketing campaign, that means your team needs to have ready knowledge about that audience. You can't just have that data at arm's reach, your team has to start knowing it by heart.
2. What makes your brand different?
You're swimming in a sea of like competitors. What separates you? It may be something you offer. It may be your brand's narrative. Perhaps your brand is more socially conscious and contributes to activism. Perhaps your brand is deeply integrated with another industry, such as sportswear companies that rely on outdoor athletes. Perhaps your business has a particular strength that competitors don't have.
You need to know exactly what makes your brand different. It might be something that you use to market your products or services. It might be something organizational or structural. It might be an integration or connection your brand has. Whatever it is, how does it become your selling point or aid your selling point?
3. What are your channels?
Do you focus on sponsorships? Social media engagement? Content marketing? Email marketing? Events? Chances are good you have a few specific marketing channels that your brand is very good with. Know what they are. Are these the best channels to reach your audience?
What channels do you need to expand to in order to reach your audience more effectively. If you're not good at them, what digital marketing agency can you ask for help?
Do you have long-term goals, and nothing but short-term strategies? You need to lean harder on content marketing and social media engagement. Identify where your audience is that you haven't reached. Whether you can do it in-house or with help, reach that audience.
4. Is your brand consistent?
Be consistent with the information and opinions your brand presents. People value brands when they feel informed by them and have some access to transparency. If you make a mistake, be accountable to it. Especially when dealing with Millennial and Gen Z customers, acknowledging a mistake and seeking to correct it is more valued than denying it and letting it fester.
Ensure your content uses the same terms when referring to specific products or the history of your industry. You don't want to confuse the customers who are taking the time to read across all your content. Keep a consistent voice from content to social media. Edit – make sure that your site, its content, emails, social media posts, and anything else written is spelled correctly and uses proper grammar. It communicates professionalism.
5. Do you know your market segmentation?
Part of knowing an audience is knowing that they aren't all the same. Do you have a way of communicating to different marketing segments? One of the easiest ways of doing this is by email lists. When you gate an article or white paper, segment emails that are provided according to the nature of the content.
This ensures that you can send content to a list that was first drawn by similar content. It's more likely to see engagement. You segment by almost any factor you've gathered information on – age, social class, region, the list goes on. Just make sure you aren't asking for extraneous information. People grow wary of this quickly. Only ask for information that's going to be immediately useful to you.
6. Can you communicate?
A marketing department needs to be able to communicate with each other. People can't be at cross-purposes, doing redundant work, or drawing opposite conclusions from the same data. Communication needs to be stress-free and easy.
If you partner with influencers or other organizations, they need to feel comfortable. They won't if they hear different things from different people, don't know who their point person is, or can't get a conversation with them.
If you work with an outside agency, their experts and your marketing staff need to be on the same page. It needs to be clear who's working on what.
7. Are you engaging your customers?
One of the biggest pieces of social media marketing is community management. This includes responding to comments. It helps people feel engaged with your brand, it helps them perceive your brand as accountable, and it helps them feel part of a community built around your brand. Are you engaged with your social media communities?
You don't need to write a novel in response to every comment, and you don't need to engage every single angry comment or troll. It is helpful to respond regularly, at the very least to top comments and best customers. Even a quick, “Thanks!” in response to a compliment goes a long way toward building customer loyalty – not just in the person who made that comment but in people who read it.
Genuine concerns can be asked to communicate with you by private message, at which point you can have customer service staff take over. A good product review online is a free testimonial that can help visitors feel more confident in making a purchase – ask if you can use that review.
8. Have you built in flexibility?
Effective marketing strategy has to accommodate for the unexpected. The unexpected isn't always bad. It might mean a particularly successful campaign requires the attention of your marketing department – so much so that you re-double on that campaign and delay work on a later one. You need to have some flexibility built in to afford this.
That flexibility also reinforces the positive. In this example, if you're crunched because of an inflexible marketing strategy, you could respond by reminding everyone they're now late on a different deadline. That doesn't reinforce success – it punishes it. It doesn't recognize or reward all the additional work that was put in because something was successful. Leave room in the plan to capitalize on success without undermining it.
9. Can you measure success?
Do you have the tools and expertise available to measure the efficacy of your marketing strategy? Is there time afforded to make adjustments to your strategy based on these measurements?
Any marketing strategy is going to have places where it over-performs and under-performs. An effective marketing strategy utilizes success metrics and analytics tools to identify where these places are.
This means having the information on how social media shares, site visits, lead conversion, backlinks, content marketing, and every other piece of your integrated marketing strategy intersect. You'll be able to tell what's working well, what needs an adjustment on the fly, and what might need a rethink when you assess your strategy.
10. Do you have stretch targets?
There are doubtless elements in your plan that may need to be cut depending on budget and time. That's a normal expectation for any department. You always plan for something to go a little worse, and you know what's core and what can be left on the cutting room floor. Do you know what you can add in if things go a little better than expected?
Your team might get their work done a week early on a deadline. A successful campaign could see additional budget come your way earlier than expected. Just as you'd identify the cuts that can be made in a plan so that you aren't caught unprepared, identify a few additional goals or projects that you'd implement if you had a bit more time or money. This lets you build on moments of success and efficiency immediately.
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