I hope the year has been good to you so far! But regardless of how your year has started, in this post I want to introduce a topic that could make all the difference to the rest of your year, ‘Marketing strategy’. Now bear with me, I know strategy isn’t the most riveting of business topics, but lack of strategy is one of the key reasons many businesses fail to grow – so address it we must.
Here’s the thing, when it comes to starting and growing a business most people understand that marketing is a crucial part of business success, and that’s spot on! But where most small businesses and start-ups miss the mark is where they start. Most begin with a website, social media or perhaps an event, without having a clear roadmap for success. They begin with action (short-term tactics) instead of a long-term plan (strategy). This amounts to putting the cart before the horse or as I often say:
Tactics without strategy is like building a house with no foundation.
Taking action without a plan may work in the short-term but it won’t be sufficient to build a business that has longevity and stands the test of time.
So here are 6 elements of a successful marketing strategy that will ensure any marketing activity you engage in actually leads you to success:
1. Vision and goals – Be crystal clear about why you’re in business and what you aim to achieve. All your marketing activity should stick to the story. Here’s what I mean, if your vision is to make bespoke footwear for high flying business women, having a Twitter account and tweeting every day will most likely not get you to that goal. Whereas having a Pinterest page with content specifically aimed at your target audience could help, because many high-income earning, professional women in their 30’s and 40’s use Pinterest. Think of your vision and goals as your filter for your decision making. If a particular course of action isn’t going to get you any closer to your vision and goals it should be dismissed immediately, no matter how popular a particular marketing activity is. Your vision and goals set your trajectory for success, so it should be the first thing you focus on.
2. Branding – branding isn’t just about your colours and logo, it’s an outward expression of what you stand for inwardly. It sets the tone and narrative for your entire business. Ask yourself these questions:
What values underpin my business?
How can I express my uniqueness through my brand?
What tone of voice does my brand have?
When you answer questions like these the visual elements of your brand become clearer.
3. Pricing – people infer a lot about your business by what you charge. Pricing is a key marketing component that affects the way your brand is perceived in the market and should reflect your brand values in some way. For example, if you want to be perceived as high-end that should be reflected in your pricing, flash sales and discount offers should be used sparingly. For example, brands like Apple and Mac Cosmetics maintain their high price tag and never go on sale. On the contrary if accessibility is a key brand value for you, you may have offerings in a range of price brackets, so that people can access your brand on a range of budgets.
4. Channels and tactics – Marketing channels are the platforms you use to promote your business (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Interest) and tactics are the methods you use to promote your business. Choose the channels and tactics that best fit the audience that you are trying to reach, in a nutshell; wherever your audience is, that’s where you should be. However, your audience like to receive information that’s how you should deliver it, and if you’re not sure ask them. Don’t choose your marketing tactics based on your favourite social media channel or what’s most popular. Our customers aren’t that interested in what we like, they just want to be served the right message, at the right time, in the right place and that is what effective marketing is all about.
5. Planning – have a written marketing plan. Download my free marketing plan template here.
6. Execution – Last but not least take action, none of the above really matters unless it results in action. The key thing is to make sure your actions are purposeful, so here’s my last 3 tips Measure what works – track your results.Pivot - If it doesn’t work stop doing it and try something else.Adjust the plan – improve your plan as you learn, be agile and move with your market.I host a free webinar where I delve into these 6 pillars a little deeper, to find out more register to attend here.