As a business owner, you may be tempted to succumb to the shiny bright marketing tactic of the week. Let’s face it, you have hundreds of things you have to do in your business, so it’s the easy route to take. However in this blog post I will investigate the importance of planning your marketing strategy before tactics, to help you attract the right kind of clients and differentiate yourself from your competitors.
You can create your marketing strategy yourself, or you can outsource it to a marketing strategy consultant.
What is a marketing strategy?
A strategy is not simply a list of objectives, a marketing strategy is your businesses overall plan of action to reach your ideal customers, and turn them into loyal customers of your product/service.
So you really need to understand who your ideal client is as a fundamental ingredient for building a successful strategy.
Why it’s important to develop your marketing strategy
Your marketing strategy is the most important aspect of your marketing. Without developing your strategy, you will be throwing away money at the latest tactic of the week, and you won’t even know if that tactic is working, without a clear marketing plan.
Your strategy needs to be built on relevant research, and planning, this will be the key to your success. If you get your marketing strategy right, you can surround it with just about any set of marketing tactics, once they are actioned and measured consistently.
Marketing strategy and tactics go hand in hand to build momentum in your business, and grow your business.
4 parts to your marketing strategy
The first thing you need to do is set some business, sales and marketing goals for your business. Then once these have been set, there are four key elements to your marketing strategy and these are:
- Ideal client – You need to narrowly define your ideal client, so you understand which clients have a problem that you can solve. Build your buyer personas. At this step you need to do market research with your ideal client.
- Point of difference – What makes your business remarkable and unique? What do you do better than your competitors?
- Brand promise – What’s your core message, and what’s content will you produce to deliver this brand promise in a consistent way?
- Buyers journey – How does your ideal client make purchase decision that you want to influence, and what are the key touch points along this journey that you need to be part of.
Ok now let’s delve a little deeper into each of these four steps in developing your marketing strategy.
1. Define your ideal client
It’s very tempting to be all things to all people, and take any customer that you can get. However most businesses, are best suited to serve a narrowly defined market segment. There is an ideal set of clients for most businesses, and this can grow and evolve over time. An ideal client may be:
- A customer has a need that you can help with in a unique way
- It would be a subset of people who can afford what you offer
- It could be a customer at a certain life stage
Once you have discovered what your ideal client looks like, then you can build your entire marketing strategy around attracting more of these types of clients.
In order to understand your ideal clients you need to do some market research with clients who are ideal, and from your market research findings build your buyer persona.
You may have more than one buyer persona for your your business is you offer a range of different services/products.
2. Differentiate your business
It’s really important to figure out a way to differentiate yourself from other players in your industry. This is a key part of your marketing strategy. You may already think what you do is unique; unfortunately competitors often claim to do the exact same thing.
One of the most important pieces of marketing research you can do, to find your point of difference, is to sit down with a handful of your existing customers, and ask them these questions:
- What made you decide to use our service?
- What’s one thing that we do really well compared to other similar businesses?
- What’s one thing that we could do better?
- Do you refer other businesses/people to us and if so what do you say when you refer us?
Now bear in mind that a customer may say you provide great service or fair pricing, but these are market expectations, not a point of difference. So dig a little deeper, ask for specific examples. Once you do this research with a handful of existing customers your point of difference will become evident, as you will see reoccurring themes and words being used to describe you.
Look at your competitors, what do they offer, what do you offer that’s better. All of this will help you craft your point of difference.
3. Brand promise – Your core message
Once you have narrowly defined your ideal client, and clearly mapped out your point of difference, you then need to build your core marketing message around these and communicate it clearly in all that you do.
Your core message will convey what you do, who you help, what’s their pain point and how you can help them overcome that pain point.
Next you build a content plan for your business, as content is the voice of your strategy. So plan content format, topics and plan across each medium.
Remember that potential clients like to consume content in different formats such as audio, video, written etc. So plan your content across each of these styles.
4. Understand your buyers journey
When your ideal client realises they have a problem that they need to solve and they search for a solution, where do they start their search? What triggers their search?
You need to clearly understand your buyers journey, and once you do understand this via market research, you can then start to plan your marketing activities and tactics to help move the buyer further along the buyers journey.
And ultimately arrive at the decision that your business is the perfect solution for them.
So there you have it the 4 key components of building your marketing strategy. Use the marketing strategy template to help you build your strategy and plan for your small business, so that you can watch your business thrive.