create a marketing strategyAs a marketing consultant, I have helped lots of companies successfully create a marketing strategy. Marketing Strategies are an integral part of any businesses plans for growth and sit at the heart of any successful marketing campaign.

How to create a marketing strategy

Whether you’re a small business, a start-up, a sole trader or you work in-house in a marketing department, hopefully, you’re all too aware of the importance of having a marketing strategy. As I discuss in my previous article, Why you need a marketing strategy, a marketing strategy is your plan of action to promote your business and every company, small or large should have one.

Over the last ten years, I have designed and perfected a sure-fire framework to create a marketing strategy suitable for any company, regardless of the size, or marketing budget. In this article, I will give you break down of the 3 key elements you need to explore in order to create your own marketing strategy. I am hoping that by the end you will feel inspired to take the first steps to hitting your goals and take control of your own marketing. So without further ado let ‘s get started and create a marketing strategy just for you!

1. Lay out your objectives and set your goals

When I sit down with a client to help them create a marketing strategy, one of the first questions I ask is what do you want to achieve? What does success look like for you? You’d be surprised at how few companies can answer this question without further exploration. This is quite alarming as if you have no idea what you want, then how will you know when you get it? Clearly laying out your objectives will give everybody involved clarity of what you are trying to achieve and also allow us to start to quantify your goals.

Core Objectives
The first thing we need to do is lay out your core objectives. What is it you want to get from marketing? is it more sales? more leads? brand awareness? Don’t worry if these are very vague at this point, we will make them specific to the next step.

Whatever you went for, we now need to quantify. Let’s just say you went for leads, how many leads do you want? if you are struggling with this, think about how many you currently get. How much more would you need for you to consider your marketing efforts a success? 10%, 20%, 50%? What does a successful campaign look like for you?

Goals
Now we have your objectives, try to drill down and identify some tangible things that would get you there. So, if you decided you wanted to increase sales by 25% what would you need to do to achieve that? what is 25% more sales made up of? e.g £10k revenue per month. An extra 50 leads per month. 5,000 more visitors to your website? What Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) do you need to hit to reach your core objectives? What are the key components required to make sure your marketing strategy is successful?

Resources
As you start to create your marketing strategy, you’ll quickly realise that you’re going to need one of two things, either time or money. It’s unlikely you will have both and if you do, that’s awesome. At this point, we need to identify what resources you have at your disposal. It may well be that as a start-up or small business, you don’t have a huge marketing budget, instead, you have a little bit of time that you can block out each week to work on your marketing. You may have no spare time whatsoever, but are lucky enough to have a budget available to bring in some help.

If you’re lucky enough to have both, it is still good practice to define the resources you have at your disposal.

2. Define your audience

define your target audienceWe’ve all heard the saying “people buy from people” and “know your customer” well they’re true. Very true. In both offline and online marketing, the better you know your customer, the closer you can match your key messages and gear your customer journey. A common mistake I see businesses make all the time is selling how they want to sell rather than how their customer wants to buy. You master that and you remove barriers, barriers that are stopping your customer from buying. The net result… More sales!

A recent Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) research showed that if a number of businesses were pitching for the same business, the proposal most likely to win the business was the one that best understood where the customer was now and NOT the solution they offered.

In order for us to understand our customer, we first need to know who they are. Who is your target audience? What does their demographic profile look like? What are their interests? What age groups are they? The more information you can put down the easier you will find it to create your marketing strategy. Trust me, you can never know, or have too much information on your customer. You could even try creating persona’s, or pretend customers and look into the life they lead. I love this exercise. When I help my clients create their marketing strategy and map their user journey, I often do a persona walk though. I take the persona through the customer journey we have mapped out. It really allows you do get a deep understanding of what life is like for your customers.

3. Identify the best routes to market

This is the bit where we start to get some kind of idea about where we’re heading. I often talk about the marketing minefield and how to gain clarity and direction and here is where your marketing strategy starts to come together. The first part of this section is to simply list every single route to market you can think of. It doesn’t matter how irrelevant you may think it is, just pop it on the list. Your list may include things like leaflet drops, SEO, paid search, social media, telesales, direct marketing, absolutely anything you can think of.

The next step is to go through the list and explore it on merit. I like to use a simple risk-reward analysis here. What is the risk i.e cost or use of resources compared to the reward or potential return? I categorise both the risk and the reward as low medium and high. So, this is where your understanding of your customer will come in really handy.

Let’s use my good friend Stuart the window cleaner as an example, as he has recently decided he needs to create a marketing strategy in order to grow his business. Stuart would look at something like a leaflet drop and conclude that he could get some leaflets printed a very low cost, he has a few hours a week spare to spend on marketing, so can distribute them, so it is quite a low-risk strategy. He decides that the rewards could be medium to high so his risk-reward analysis suggests that it is low risk/high reward. Let’s take a look at another example. Also on Suearts list was radio advertising on his list. This would be high risk (very expensive) and low reward (not targeted enough). As you can see Stuart’s best chance of success would lie with the leaflet drop.

After you have explored every item on your list, you will hopefully have some items that are low risk/med-high reward? Unsurprisingly, these are the items you should be focussing on and where you should be spending your time and efforts. Try arranging the items in order of risk, with the lowest risk/highest reward activities at the top of the list and the highest risk/lowest reward items at the bottom. This forms your higher level to do list and is the order in which you should do things.

The final step is to put time-scales on things. What things do you want to do in the next 3 months, the next 6 months and the next 12 months?

There you have it, pretty simple hey? You now have everything you need to enable you to create a marketing strategy specific to your business needs and in line with the resources you have available. I really hope you find this useful and I’d love to hear how you’ve got on with creating your own marketing plan.