We’ve all heard the buzzwords, like marketing strategy and content marketing plan, but if you’re like me – and didn’t grow up dreaming of spending 150K on an MBA program then you might be asking “What is a marketing strategy?”
And…”How do I create a marketing strategy?” And…”Is creating a marketing strategy really worth it?”
So here’s a deep-dive into this often referenced, but often confusing aspect of sales: the marketing strategy.
Question: What is a Marketing Strategy?
Answer: Wikipedia, that bastion of truth and accuracy, defines a marketing strategy is the goal of increasing sales and achieving a sustainable competitive advantage.
But this is like saying “breathing” is the goal of taking in oxygen and not dying. It doesn’t tell us WHAT a marketing strategy is.
Generally speaking, a marketing strategy, is some kind of formalized plan – usually broken out by year, month, and week – that outlines:
a) The GOALS of the business. (This should include things like sales, leads, conversions, visitors, subscribers, unsubscribers, etc.) What the HELL are we aiming for here.
b) The MARKET DEMOGRAPHICS of your customers. (Where the MARKET actually lives – not just where you THINK they live.)
c) The METHODS we intend to use, both in terms of paid and much free, to reach that market.
Question: What Does a Marketing Strategy Look Like?
Answer: Oftentimes these marketing strategy documents are created with upside-down funnels for the purpose of visualization. (Usually by people who have way too much free time and know how to use Photoshop.)
The idea being that we start, at the top, with the LARGEST number of possible leads/customers/fans and then slowly we filter them down to the bottom where we have our most passionate, rabid customers. (Who end up buying the most premier, high-ticket items we have to offer.)
For those of us who had trouble passing 10th-grade graphics, these marketing strategy plans can be as simple as a word document with a list of the marketing initiatives for that given year, month or week.
What is important – far more important than your ability to make shiny pie-chart diagrams – is to nail down EVERY single marketing action to a specific GOAL that actually brings in moolah for your business. (Either directly or indirectly.)
That’s the whole point of a marketing strategy – to make sure you don’t waste your time on crap that doesn’t make your car payment.
Question: Do I really NEED a marketing strategy?
Answer: The conventional answer is yes. Of course you need one. And you’re a total moron for not having one!
If you don’t have the energy, manpower, mental bandwidth, or free time to actually follow through on any of the action steps then the prettiest, most detailed marketing strategy won’t do you a bit of good. (As a business owner, you hardly need one more to-do list item that makes you feel overwhelmed and guilty.)
That being said…even a right-brained, English major like me has found it indispensable – not to mention stress-reducing – to connect my marketing effors to a long-view goal. (Rather than just an immediate daily sales tally.)
Question: Okay, you’ve answered “What is a marketing strategy.” So, how do i create a marketing strategy?
Answer: Ah…that’s the big question, isn’t it?
Well…there are many high-paid consultant-types – who seem to all shop at Nordstrom – who will design a customized 25K marketing strategy for you.
But here’s how to save yourself some cash:
1) Figure out what TYPE of customer you want. (Not necessarily the customer you already have.) Think about not only demograhpics, but also hobbies, interests and emotional state.
2) Figure out how THEY like to consume stuff. (Slick videos on YouTube, motivational quotes on Facebook, in-depth manifestos on LinkedIN, sales brochures in the mail.) If in doubt, just ask ’em.
3) Determine WHERE you want to capture leads. (Opt-in form, voice mail, billboard, etc.)
4) Using a calendar, come up with one marketing message each week. (Try your best to choose a different form of media for each week of the month.) Example: Week 1 – Print ad; Week 2 – Email blast; Week 3 – website Banner ad; Week 4 – Facebook Video…)
5) Go through your marketing strategy and MAKE SURE every marketing message has one of the following:
a) An irresistible (they’d be an idiot not to grab it) offer
b) Something funny or entertainineg
c) Something super helpful
…anything that doens’t feel like marketing.
Don’t worry. Creating a marketing strategy is more fun than it sounds. (You can even get spouses and family members to help you.) And before you know it you’ll be answering the question…what is a marketing strategy with a firm “The THING that helps me RULE the world!”