A well-thought-out marketing strategy serves as the guiding force that pushes your brand forward, connects with your audience, and ultimately drives business growth. Here are key steps to consider when building this foundation.
1. Start with research
Before diving into marketing initiatives, thorough market research is essential. Understanding your industry, competitors, and target audience will set you on a journey of success. The insights from the research will inform your marketing strategy and set the stage for effective marketing campaigns.
Competitor research will help you understand how others present themselves, what channels they use, what messages they deliver and even how much they focus on paid marketing.
Although an effective marketing strategy always requires a level of uniqueness, it will speed up understanding the market if you learn from those who play in the same field. At the same time, it helps to define your own unique value proposition.
By collecting insights about your consumer habits, motivations, and expectations, you can start making informed decisions about how and where to address your customers. Customer research can be done through various methodologies, including surveys, interviews, and data analysis.
One of the best ways for truly understanding your customers is talking to them directly. Data can help you understand averages, but it doesn’t tell you why people do what they do. You can read further why customer research is important from our previous article.
Audit your own brand and channels to build your marketing strategy
Customer research can surely give you a great overview about how your brand is perceived. Competitor research informs you about how others are perceived. But auditing your brand will help you understand what influences the perception in your activities. Auditing your own brand can go as deep as looking into the processes, how marketing activities are managed. Do you have a brand book that everyone follows? Are your activities aligned with your brand book and if not, why is it so? It can be either lack of information or outdated guidelines. Either way, this will help you set up your activities in a well thought through manner. This step often requires an external party to step in to get a fresh perspective.
2. Define the core principles of your brand and the marketing activities
Once you’ve collected insights, it is time to start defining your own strategy and make sure that relevant principles are in place.
Define your target markets and the customer persona
Clearly defining your target audience is an important step – where are your customers located and what motivates them? As part of this step it is also good to map the customer journey. During the research phase you should keep in mind to collect all relevant info to define the persona and their journey. This information will help you or your marketing partners to tailor the messages, select appropriate marketing channels, and create content that resonates with your audience. For example, the channels and messages to B2B customers are largely quite different to those you’d use for B2C.
It’s also crucial to list the countries or locations you are targeting as part of your marketing strategy. Different countries use different channels and certain locations surely require translations!
Brand book: core messages and the visual language
A brand book, also known as brand guidelines or a style guide, is a comprehensive document that outlines the key elements of your brand’s identity. It is a crucial companion to your marketing strategy. It serves as a manual and includes the brand’s core messages, brand positioning, tone of voice as well as visual elements, including logo usage, color palette, typography, graphic elements, imagery, and more. These principles should be applied across all mediums.
A brand book will help you maintain brand consistency, ensuring that every communication piece, whether it is a marketing material, social media content, or internal communication piece, aligns with the brand’s intended image and values. The brand book serves as a reference point for employees, designers, and anyone involved in creating content to uphold a cohesive and recognizable brand identity.
Channels: define your channels strategy that works the best for your business
Choosing the channels as part of your marketing strategy will help you be present in places where customers will find you. The channels are the various platforms and mediums through which your business communicates and engages with your audience. However, it is always smart to leave room for experimentations. The suitability of certain channels (for example, should you use Meta or LinkedIn or both?) can only be confirmed by testing various strategies.
Channels in your marketing strategy generally fall into two categories.
1. Those that help to attract traffic through content on your own channels (known as inbound marketing)
2. And those that allow spreading your message to a wider audience (known as outbound marketing)
Inbound marketing revolves around creating content to attract your audience naturally. This can be anything from blog and social media content to webinars, podcasts, and SEO. Outbound marketing on the other hand involves actively pushing a message out to a broader audience to generate awareness and interest. Some examples include printed media, TV commercials and social media paid advertising. Most marketing strategies combine elements of both approaches.
Setting the goals
If you don’t know where you’re headed, you can’t plan accordingly. Therefore, a crucial step in defining your core principles is defining your goals. This should be done in collaboration with the business development, sales and marketing teams so the sales and marketing funnel would be aligned across teams.
3. Create your Marketing Playbook
Insights from the research and the core principles make up your company’s Marketing Playbook. This is a collection of knowledge as well as guidelines that will help anyone working on your company’s marketing and branding to align the activities with the strategy. You are then ready to launch your channels that communicate your brand. In real life, of course, some of these steps are often done in parallel – for example, creating the principles and building your website that carries the brand.
Cohesive principles that are followed properly help your brand stand out within the tough competition of the modern marketing landscape.
4. Pick the right tools to streamline your workflow
Marketing plan, timeline and budgeting
In order to follow a more detailed marketing plan that is laid out on a timeline you will need to choose the right tools. For small marketing teams, a spreadsheet is often enough. For larger teams it makes sense to work with project management tools. This will allow you to keep a to-do list where assignees, deadlines and budgets can effectively be managed.
Tracking the results
You are about to set up your marketing campaign. But how do you know if it works? To work smartly, it is crucial to set up proper tracking as well. For online marketing, this can be in a very detailed manner, with the help of Google Analytics and other online tools.
A company data dashboard is a useful tool both for the marketeer to understand the result as well as for the management. Analytics dashboards can be built to serve a larger need than only tracking marketing results, as the company targets are often intervened. You can collect your online and offline leads as well as successful sales all into one dashboard.
Building a proper dashboard usually requires an analyst to work with your company.
Managing your leads and marketing contacts
Marketing strategies often include moments, where you are collecting leads. These are people that interact with your brand but have not yet become customers. In order to be able to nurture your leads, it is smart to choose a tool, where you can collect, tag and manage your contacts. The same tool will help you also keep these contacts, that are already your customers and are interested in staying in touch. The usual platforms for managing your contacts are email marketing platforms but there are also CRM-s that have similar functionality. Choosing the right tool depends on the type of business you are.
In conclusion, establishing a strong foundation for your company’s marketing activities requires a strategic approach. All of these steps listed in the article are something that we, at Rethink, are dedicated to helping our clients succeed in. Whether it is the full foundation or a section that your company needs, get in touch and let’s discuss how we can help you grow!