In this article we will explore the process of building an effective marketing strategy from the ground up. Whether you are a newer business owner, experienced entrepreneur, or part of a marketing team, it never hurts to review the fundamentals of marketing.
At Loop Strategic Marketing we've had the pleasure of working with dozens businesses of different sizes, skill sets, industries, and knowledge. This depth of experience has enabled our team to develop a systematic approach to building out marketing strategies which we are able to implement for clients no matter what stage of their business they are in.
Over the years, we've seen countless businesses get stuck in the rut of doing things the way they always have been done—and this can be detrimental to the results an effective marketing strategy can produce.
Keys to success when building an effective marketing strategy:
- Approach your market strategy with a systematic and methodical mentality
- Align your marketing strategy with your business goals
- Understand your market and customers, while also understanding your teams capacity
- Document your strategy, share it with your team, update it when you feel the need to do so, and keep track of your progress
- Have the plan, work the plan, and know when to adapt your plan
When building a business, it's key to leave as little to chance as you can. By following a plan, and getting advice where needed, you can reduce your risks as an owner. A marketing strategy is one of the most important parts of a business, and it's necessary to have a plan in place before you can hope to get results.
Always start with your business goals
Marketing strategies always have to relate to the goals of your business. If these objectives are not clear for you or your team, how will you ever accomplish them? This seems like common sense, but this couldn't be further from the truth. As companies grow it is so easy for teams to lose touch with the actual purpose of the organization. The goal as an owner is to keep everyone rowing in the same direction.
When we begin working with clients, one recurring theme is that marketing and sales are not in sync. There's little to no communication, few cross team goals, and often a lingering tension between the two departments. If your teams are disconnected, the customer experience suffers, because there is no continuous flow from every interaction they are experiencing with your business.
As an organization, your business goals need to be clear; the team needs to know the goals, and every individual team's goals need to roll-up to the main company goals. We all have to win together. Once you truly understand your business goals, then you can move onto developing a strategy that will help you achieve those goals.
Understanding Your Market
The next stage to developing your marketing strategy is to understand your market and your customers. There are recurring themes in business, but every industry is unique in some way. Whether it's customer purchasing behaviours, personality types, education levels, trust in the market, or otherwise; there's no silver bullet strategy that works for every business. So you need to consider the industry specific variables and factors that impact your strategy.
Conduct a channel analysis to identify the ways that your customer likes to be reached. This can be over the phone, via email, in person. The best way to get this information is to look at your current customers. Who are they? And when possible just ask them! They will love taking their time in talking with you and telling you about themselves.
Next, look at the state of your market. Is there a lot of trust in the market? Do consumers choose solutions quickly or is the purchase cycle longer and drawn out? Make an effort to understand the customer's decision making process specific to your industry. Work towards understanding which tactics are the most common sense for your business.
Finally, look at your competitors. What are other people doing? The biggest takeaway here is this: just because your competitors are doing something, doesn't mean you have to do it too. Your competitors are necessarily doing everything right, but it's important to be aware of the strategies used by others in your industry. The best reason to monitor your competition is so you can identify opportunities to stand out and be unique.
The key takeaway from in this stage of working through your plan is to also be realistic about the abilities of you and your team. There are always limitations in the world. These can include, time available, budget available, team experience and knowledge etc. Be realistic with your goals and keep your strategy grounded in real world actionable things. Your plan should be aggressive, but not impossible or unrealistic.
Document Your Strategy
Write it down, save it, and look at it regularly. If your strategy exists only in your head, that's just an idea. Documenting your strategy means that you are committed to this plan and it's not just a fleeting thought. Establishing your baseline will also enable you to track your progress. You and your team need to be held accountable to the strategy. There is no room for miscommunication.
Share your strategy with your team, have everyone read it, and internalize it. Your team is your most valuable asset in business. They should know the goals, and how they fit in to help you get there. Revisit your strategy every fiscal quarter to keep your finger on the pulse.
Have a Plan, Work the Plan
Once you have developed your strategy, you need to be prepared to follow through and do the work so you can achieve your goals. Big goals are intimidating, so make sure that you break it down into manageable tasks. Just like the great Canadian athlete, Terry Fox did with his mile markers on the Marathon of Hope.
- Review your marketing strategy
- Break it down into actionable tasks
- Assign tasks to your team members
- Set deadlines and hold everyone accountable
- Regularly hold team meetings to review progress
- Celebrate milestones with the team as you achieve pieces of your strategic plan.
Know When to Take a Look Around
If you feel like you're banging your head against the wall, have more information than you had when you created the plan, or feel like it is no longer relevant: there is no need to scrap the entire plan! Update it, adapt it, allow it to evolve. Businesses are not rigid entities. They need to grow, change, and evolve. So your plan needs to do the same.
Just be sure you are adapting the plan because of relevant factors, not that your team isn't committed to the plan, or that you've missed a milestone or two. It's okay to adapt the plan when new information comes to light that calls for an update; it is not okay to adapt the plan when lack of action results in poor execution.
All businesses need a marketing plan, if you do not have one get on it immediately. Make sure your plan and everything you're doing in your business rolls up to your main company goals, and involve your team as much as you can in the process. You're all in this together, if you want your team to help support your goals, have them help create your goals, and buy into the activities needed to achieve your goals.
If you've made it this far thanks for reading, and we hope that we were able to give you a few pieces of insight from our experience developing marketing strategies for businesses across Canada. If you have anything you'd like to add, or any feedback on the post. Hit us up on our site chat.