As a brand, your marketing strategy is your long-term plan for success. If your leadership isn’t clearly aligned around a central strategy, anything you do—be it social media posts, blogging, field promotions, retail displays, TV commercials, or product development—will be little more than a shot in the dark. Follow these steps to develop a successful marketing strategy that increases brand awareness, cements trust, drives brand affinity, boosts sales, and assures a bright future.
6 Steps to Developing a Successful Marketing Strategy
Step 1: Identify Your Target Audience
Develop simple, one-paragraph or bullet point profiles of your ideal prospective customers. Are your buyers introverted or extroverted? Are they leaders or followers? Are they traditional or progressive? How often do they buy and how much do they buy? What do they care about?
In your assessment, consider:
- Age range
- Household structure
- Job titles / Industries
- Education level
- Annual earnings
- Geographic location
- Lifestyle / Interests
- Buying motivation
- Buying concerns
The best way to approach buyer personas is to conduct research of existing customers. Offer a discount, free product, or incentive to existing customers and prospects for filling out a survey or completing a brief interview.
Step 2: Make a List of Your Marketing Goals
Now that you know who you’ll be interacting with, consider what your vision of success looks like in a series of measurable, meaningful steps. An overarching goal could be to have a larger email subscriber list or increased awareness of a new product.
Though, the best marketing goals are SMART:
- Specific: Does the detail in your proposal reflect a real-world problem or opportunity?
- Measurable: Can a quantitative or qualitative measurement be attached to chart progress?
- Actionable: Will your company be able to take action toward improvement?
- Relevant: Does the achievement of this immediate goal fit with your long-term objectives?
- Timely: Have you set a benchmark date to determine whether you’re succeeding?
You may also want to consider breaking down your goals in terms of campaigns to help keep the big picture in mind. Consider developing campaigns dedicated to lead generation or increasing conversions, partner marketing, or a particular theme.
Step 3: Choose Channels and Research Marketing Tactics
There is a wide variety of ways to get your marketing messages in front of your target markets, from traditional modes like print ads to modern SEO content marketing. Healthy marketing mixes include a blend of both types, but you don’t have to do it all. To get the best return on investment, you will need to make informed decisions based on your prospects.
Brands can take advantage of online channels that are a blend of:
- Owned: website, mobile site, blog, social media channels
- Earned: social mentions, shares, reposts, reviews
- Paid: pay per click, display ads, paid influencers, social media ads
While earned media is the most affordable, owned media should remain the backbone channel of your brand’s communications, as it is completely under your control and not beholden to any outside restrictions.
Consider forming a marketing partnership with like-minded companies or key industry influencers such as bloggers or social media influencers. A collaboration could produce results quicker than a homegrown effort, not to mention expose you to expanded audiences. Shopkick offers one such partnership, allowing both brands and retailers to use the unique shopping platform to guide consumers down the sales funnel with fun rewards in exchange for brand engagement and purchase loyalty.
Step 4: Break Down Your Sales Funnel for Better Personalization
It can be all too confusing to decide which marketing channels and tactics to choose. One way of further targeting your efforts is to consider your sales funnel, which is also sometimes called “the customer’s journey.” Here’s a breakdown of a typical journey that turns a potential customer into a buyer.
|Answer||What do you sell/do? Who are you?||Who needs your products/services, and why?||What are the consequences of not having your product/service? Why you? Why now?||What should happen next? What is the benefit of acting now?|
|Tactics||blogs, ads, banners, customer testimonials, demos||blogs, newsletters, eBooks, buyer’s guide, landing page, news articles, webinars, events||content, demos, trials, videos, social media, promotions, seminars, references||emails, customer stories, presentations, topic sheets, competitor analysis|
You’ll want to also consider which points of the sales funnel might be the weakest for your brand and where you can intervene to keep prospects moving along.
Step 5: Set Your Budget and Make It Official
Whatever avenue you decide, you’ll need to break down a month-by-month schedule for your marketing strategy. You may want to break it down further to budget for a particular campaign or channel. Be sure to include a “red light” decision point, establishing metrics to alert you when the ROI is insufficient on a particular endeavor.
Once all moving parts are in place, it helps to have a written plan you can reference periodically, along with a marketing calendar that tracks important dates, product launches, seasonal campaign kick-offs, social media announcements, special events, and other campaigns.
Step 6: Look to the Future
Lastly, establish important tracking methods and metrics to measure your marketing performance. It could be as simple as comparing your budget and ROI on an Excel spreadsheet or tapping the power of Google Analytics to track website conversions. A/B testing over 30- or 60-day periods is a common method of evaluation for advertisements.
Charting progress will be an essential part of maintaining your successful marketing strategy.
Most companies use a more comprehensive marketing dashboard that makes it easy to define marketing success. These programs deliver key metrics matched to your specific objectives. Charting progress will be an essential part of maintaining your successful marketing strategy.
Shopkick helps our partners develop a successful marketing strategy that increases brand awareness, cements trust, drives brand affinity, boosts sales, and assures a bright future. To learn how we have helped other companies like yours increase sales, contact us and check out our success stories.
Image courtesy of Dusan Petkovic