Ten tips for building an effective marketing strategy
With technology creating colossal opportunities for marketing, there are still some fundamental or basic tenets to marketing that seem to be getting lost in the translation today. The Drum looked at some of the most important factors in a strong marketing strategy that have stood the test of time. They are the following.
1. Determine the Target Audience
One of the most important aspects of a marketing strategy is to determine who the target audience is. This is one of the basic principles for a marketer to adhere by in shaping an abiding marketing strategy. By determining ones target audience, the next question should be what the expectations are for any new marketing strategy. For some, the principals have remained the same for decades and those include making money, learning something new and having fun doing it.
Asking questions about the strategy are key. Deciding to spend a set amount on social media, because the target it to reach entrepreneurs in a certain area or starting a new project is all about staying on target with ones target audience.
When asking what the strategies if for achieving the outcomes, it is better to get down to basics. For example, is increasing the company's Twitter followers by 1,000 a priority? Is a key content marketing goal to increase leads or build up the brand as a thought leader? There are a myriad of strategies to consider as long as it is aimed for ones target audience.
2. Create and document your strategy
Marketing departments are constantly revisiting or reevaluating marketing techniques or strategies but having a clearly outlined plan in place based on conditions of satisfaction, can help alleviate any miscommunication with vendors or staff, as well as keeping the entire team on the same page.
By sharing one document, employees know their role and what they’re expected to bring to the table. It may seem simple, but in the end, it will help save you time and money. Using a worldwide marketing calendar divided by months and categories that are relevant for ones business is a simple technique. A tech startup’s list of categories might include product launches, audience acquisition, marketing, public relations, social media, advertising, and brand assets.
3. Make it personal
Before personalization became a brand in itself, marketing was always about making it personal. Keeping it personal is more of a challenge with marketing automation but the basics still prevail. In order to acquire and retain loyal customers, and keep followers engaged, personalized one-to-one marketing is no longer an option, but is a requirement.
Personal touches and one on one engagement results or is driven by the need to make an emotional connection above all else. Millennial in particular are looking for that emotional connection to a brand - which can result in brand loyalty - and word of mouth referrals and online reviews. Bring it down to brass tacks and consider what makes one a loyal customer. As an example, a seating host at a local pub may know ones favorite spot or the waiter may bring ones favorite scotch to the table. A restaurant owner always knows its best to personally address consumers while getting personal with consumers equates to more emotionally connected customers. It is human nature and despite massive shifts and advances in technology, the human touch still counts for a great deal in marketing and communications.
4. Remember: Content is (still) king
Content marketing is marketing and it is rising to flood tide levels. However, good writing and developing quality content should become the rule, not the exception, regardless of industry. Content marketing has emerged from being a part of a marketing strategy to one of the core strategies, yet it can be time consuming when done in-house; meanwhile, if you outsource it, it can cost between $2,000-$20,000 per month. It’s important to determine what the team can manage and when to hire a specialist. Have a team member with graphic design experience? Keep that in-house. Need someone to write copy? Hire a copywriter.
Whenever possible, try and use strategies that will save time. If the content resources are tight, don’t try and build everything from scratch. Good content marketing is time consuming to produce yet there are a few strategies that help speed up the process. Delegating the writing or research to competent team members, running regular columns that share the same basic format, and creating new content that supports or enhances existing content can save you time.
5. Build marketing partnerships
Marketing partnerships have a number of benefits to push a marketing campaign and build alliances. For starters, when collaborating with someone else, enterprises tend to deliver better content. Additionally, marketing partnerships are cheaper to create, see success more quickly, and expose the brand to a new audience.
For example, prior to being acquired by eBay, Half.com worked the town of Halfway, Oregon, to change its name to Half.com in exchange for stock, Internet access, and other giveaways. The tactic gained a lot of attention for the textbook rental company. Another example was when Converse teamed up with Guitar Center to record music entitled "Rubber Tracks." The content was then used to create a series of YouTube videos that focused on the musicians.
6. Start collaborating with Influencers
Another way to gain a new audience and extend brand awareness is by collaborating with the top influencers in ones industry. As an example, home improvement store Lowe's allowed "top designers and mom bloggers" to take over its Instagram account for a few days at a time. By allowing influencers to share inspirational content, Lowe's was able to tap into a new audience.
7. Be the solution - start helping customers solve a problem
As a way to build brand loyalty, providing solutions for customers is an excellent method to create a lasting impression on a customer. According to HubSpot, "You're in business because you provide solutions." Creating how-to content, offering exclusives that are relevant to customers, making their lives easier, responding and listening are all key techniques whether apps/tools, social channels, newsletters or outreach creates them.
8. Initiate a Forum - let customers interact
No matter the product or service you're offering, your customers want to interact with your company, or at least other customers. As an example, AMC created an online tool that allowed you to Mad Man Yourself. American Express connects small-business owners to each other and helpful resources through its OPEN Forum.
9. Get employees - outside of the marketing department - engaged and involved
Let employees be your biggest champions and brand advocates. Sponsorship and community outreach help introduce a company to activities or events that affect the entire company. Sponsoring a road race that raises money for cancer research or creating a video that taps into the allegiance of the brand, will motivate employees to share the videos with friends and family.
10. Use big data to target customers.
Big data is now helping retailers target specific customers and big data can be used to predict purchasing trends. As an example, Red Roof Inn uses canceled flight information to send messages to stranded travelers. A pizza chain uses data to send out coupons to customers who are experiencing bad weather or power outages. In short, big data can be used to predict purchasing trends. With this information, you can get in touch with consumers before they search for your products or services.