The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Strategy

The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Strategy

What is a marketing strategy?

To create an effective marketing strategy for your business, you first need to understand what that looks like. 

A marketing strategy is an overarching plan you use to move your company into the best position for success. It’s an essential tool for planning and executing all your marketing, and it will form the blueprint for effectively selling your product or service.

A fruitful marketing strategy may utilise tools like Brand Communications Marketing, Digital Marketing, Content Marketing - or all three. 

How to speak to your ideal customer?

Oftentimes, when people market their product, they tend to advertise the direct delivery of their product rather than addressing the outcome the customer will experience. If you can learn to speak to your customers in a way that clarifies how your product or service will change their life, your product becomes a problem solved - or a dream realised.

Every business has a model with a product or service they deliver to people who want it. So, to get in touch with people who want your service or product, you need to properly articulate what you offer - and do it at the right location. 

What should my marketing strategy achieve? 

You should:

  1. Discover who your customer is.
  2. Pinpoint their motivations and pain points.
  3. Check where your competitors are succeeding - and struggling.
  4. Properly analyse the data your marketing is producing.

And remember, you can’t be all things to all people; there is a precise marketing strategy that will garner great results for you; you just have to identify it.

How important is a marketing strategy?

Even if your company is functioning well, has grown organically, or works on a need-and-demand model, you will discover that a marketing strategy has a tremendous clarifying and focusing effect. 

The benefits of marketing strategy include learning to properly articulate your core offer, pinpointing your brand position, and ensuring that your messaging is crystal clear. By building a marketing strategy, you will understand what problem your business solves for your customer and connect more authentically.

Another critical reason to invest in market strategy is to ensure you are delivering the right messages at each stage of the buyer journey. When you understand where your customer is on their journey towards buying your product, you can more clearly articulate how you will meet their need.

Understanding your customer’s stage of awareness is a significant factor in the planning of your marketing messaging. For example, when you speak to a prospective customer that has never heard of your brand, your messaging requires a different approach than when your customer is already loyal but doesn’t know about a special offer. 

Where should I focus my marketing efforts? 

A core tenet of your marketing strategy should be “know thyself” because to speak authenticity to your customers, you must first pinpoint precisely what it is you have to offer - and how it differs from similar offers on the market. 

It’s imperative that you identify and relay your core message clearly. Suppose you lack clarity on what you offer, how you differ from your competitor - or have several different offerings that are not being described coherently - you may be creating confusion for your prospective customer without realising it.

Looking at your business through a market strategist lens allows you to grow or change in ways that address what your customer wants from you, what they really see in you - or to discover what they would prefer you to offer. It also allows you to create a hierarchy within your messaging that spells out exactly what is on offer in succinct terms.

A marketing strategy will ensure that you focus your efforts on speaking to the right people in the right place, and what you say will allow them to see how you will add value to their lives immediately.

How to know what marketing channel to choose

Putting all your advertising eggs in one basket or diversifying heavily across multiple online marketing platforms may be the right solution for you. But if you don’t spend the time and money upfront to do your marketing strategy research, you are shooting blind.

Research done right is one of the keys to creating a successful marketing strategy. It will save you time and money on wasted content and will likely play a significant part in your ongoing success.

Companies with a loyal customer base have a goldmine of information that can be used to build strategy, and all businesses are able to utilise marketing tools to experiment and discover the approach that will best serve their marketing budget. It does take time to learn how to utilise online marketing tools, and you may need to outsource this vital task.

A good marketing strategist will first speak to your customers because they are the best people to relay where they are on the scale of awareness. Planning your approach takes the guesswork out of your marketing and asking the people who already use your product or service what they think is the logical place to start.

How do I set KPI’s and measure results?

Monitoring your progress is a natural extension of having a robust marketing strategy in place. If you know precisely what steps you have already taken, you can track how you got where you are. Then you can use your collected data to pivot, extend or make a U-turn if that's what your marketing strategist recommends.

Begin by placing some marketing content on platforms that you have identified as places your ideal customer frequents. It’s wise to start with channels that produce easily readable conversion stats before you commit to your full budget. Your marketing should be planned out at least three months in advance, and ad stats should be checked monthly. 

A well-focused marketing strategy will include some contingency planning and will be flexible enough to shift focus without tipping the whole thing over. 

How to create a marketing strategy

An effective marketing  strategy is comprised of five core elements:

  1. The Brand (who is making the offer)
  2. Products & Services (what you deliver)
  3. The Proposition (what you promise to sell)
  4. The Problem (what you're promising to solve)
  5. The Market (who you're selling to)

In our experience, when all these five core elements are present, strong, clearly understood, and in alignment, you have the basis of a robust marketing proposition.

Steps for a successful marketing strategy

Conduct an Audit

Audit your current online presence up front. Is your website up to date? Does it accurately describe your offering? Many businesses will need to start with a website and brochure refresh before they begin directing traffic to their online home.

Create your Goals

Write up some goals that identify exactly what you want to achieve with your marketing - is it 5 new customers a month? Increased brand awareness? Or would you like to get 20 people to sign up for a newsletter? You should figure out your ideal endgame before you start drawing up the roadmap to get there.

Ask Some Questions

To get started, make a list of questions that apply to your business. You should have at least ten – even if you don’t use them all. If your list includes several dozen benefits, organise them into groups. You can use headings such as safety, appearance, prestige, value, cost, performance, etc.

Now, create an opening statement that comfortably gets the conversation going in a fact-finding direction. You should also look at what marketing - if any - has already worked for you.

When you examine your past activities, you can see where you might garner some success again. Plus, it’s important to work out the metrics in advance - it doesn’t make sense to spend more money to attract your customer than their potential spend will be worth to you!

You must also get to know your competitors; this is how you identify your point of difference - and yes, you have one. It doesn’t need to be a fancy circus trick, just something you really care about that you can weave into your messaging to relay your core values.

For instance, you may be great at forecasting shortages in your market, so you keep your stock levels high to ensure your customer continues to receive their goods in a timely fashion. Or you may pride yourself on your supplier relationships - or have a proactive follow-up service. 

Each business has a USP (Unique Selling Point) and hanging your marketing strategy off this is one way to attract new business, shift your brand focus, or underline your credibility with current clients.

The importance of understanding who your audience is

If you are already in business, your customer holds the insights you need to grow, pivot, or clarify your messaging. Interview as many as you feasibly can, or for a more accurate response, get someone else to ask them why they use you. Find out precisely how they see you, and what they may like you to do differently. 

Ask them who they are and where they like to hang out online, and use this opportunity to learn what they think you are offering them. Get them to use three words to describe you, and really listen to their responses. The more nuanced information you can collect, the better. If you can use your marketing content to describe the problem your customer is experiencing and then articulate how you will solve it, you are on the right track.

Once you have explored where your customer feels you are doing a great job and where your product or service can better serve their needs, you can begin to solve their problem by reaching out to them in the places they go online. A good marketing strategist will be able to advise you on the level of demographic engagement you can expect for your particular offering across the various digital platforms.

For instance, Instagram is unlikely to work for you if you are selling financial services or farm equipment. However, if you are looking to book clients at your cosmetic beauty therapy clinic, this may be a great place to start rolling out some test content to track clicks and conversions.

Once you know your audience, you can begin creating meaningful content that addresses their pain points, solves their problems, or educates and entertains them. And you will know where to find them.

Does your marketing strategy address your business goals?

Do you want to win awards for your marketing material? Do you have tight revenue goals? Are you looking to expand your subscriber base? Many companies want to create a passionate community around their brand or position themselves as a charitable enterprise. 

These goals are all valid, and each will require a tailored approach. Once you have identified your goals, you can test them for viability by applying the SMART formula.

SMART goals are:

Specific - pinpoint exactly what you want, use detail and numbers.

Measurable - choose methods you can measure.

Achievable - be realistic!

Relevant - is this the right goal for your business?

Time-based - nail down specific timeframes.

Once you have nailed down your goals' specifics and viability, you can move on to the next part of drawing up your marketing strategy.

The importance of competitor analysis

Observing your competition can educate you on audience response and brand positioning - and help you to uncover your own USP. Suppose you can see where your competitor is strong. In that case, you will gain valuable insights into what your industry champions; if they are struggling, they may present a valuable case study as a cautionary tale. 

SWOT analysis

When highlighting how to create a marketing strategy from a traditional formulaic standpoint, the tried-and-true SWOT analysis is still a handy tool.

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It’s a way to investigate your business that will help you build a realistic picture of where you stand (strengths and weaknesses). It also allows you to identify the opportunities and threats you may come across to prepare you for action, eventualities, and potential outcomes.

Your strengths may include the resources you have at your disposal, the market advantage you already hold, or the marketing that you have tried that has been successful. You want to identify where investing your time and energy is reaping positive results because it feeds intelligent decision-making in the future.

When you explore your weaknesses, you flip the game. Is your messaging unclear? Where is your marketing investment proving less fruitful? Are you working under-resourced? Where are your competitors outstripping you - and why?

Opportunities and threats generally come from outside your business, and while you may not be able to control them, you can certainly anticipate them. This may mean positioning yourself to capitalise on opportunity as it appears or keeping an eye on the media and your competitors to offset any potential threats to your ability to connect with your customers.

What is confident brand positioning?

Confident brand positioning is an essential part of your marketing strategy. Who are you? Make sure you are the one who gets to decide! Are you cheap and cheerful, premium and exclusive, or do you have something middle of the road that will appeal to a mass market?

Being discoverable online can make or break your business. With so many competing for a relatively small market in New Zealand, your digital marketing strategy must cut through the clutter and motivate your target customer to action. 

Properly identifying and clarifying your brand position will help you understand where you should be concentrating your marketing budget. You wouldn’t advertise a kebab shop in Vogue Magazine. However, you might sell a luxury handbag on Tik Tok. Positioning is part science, part art and part magic - and achievable with the right marketing strategy - it’s also a bit of a tightrope walk if you don’t know what you’re doing and is generally best left to the experts.

Your marketing strategy should place you where your business will get noticed by the largest number of people who need your product or service. This can be confusing in today’s digitally saturated marketplace, but reading the overwhelming number of choices available to your brand as opportunities, and learning exactly who you are and where you need to be is empowering.

Creating an effective market positioning strategy should establish your brand succinctly in the mind of consumers, and you should be deciding the ins and outs of who you are before you launch a marketing campaign. Otherwise, you can confuse people, which leads to turning your prospective customer away.

How to choose your marketing mix

To generate good leads, you will likely need to utilise a marketing mix. Deciding on the best mix for you is a complex process that needs to consider traffic, conversions and your budget. 

Your mix may include Adwords, Facebook, LinkedIn, or organic rankings through SEO content. It’s essential to home in on the best mix for your business, and you should be certain you have the skills to measure your results as your campaign progresses. You must audit, research and experiment before you commit, and remember, be sure to check your metrics!

A marketing strategy can be multi-layered, or it could be as simple as a well-placed blog. For example, to attract migrant clients to a new business website in New Zealand, Creative Content’s marketing strategist ordered content that described how difficult it was for NZ businesses to attract certain essential workers. This article was linked to a Facebook snippet in three countries - targeting people of a certain age in professions including aged care, nursing, and engineering. 

By placing the snippet where those in specific jobs of a particular age in these countries would be likely to click on it, this informational article - with just a line at the bottom inviting a signup - garnered 250 sign-ups in one month!

Each digital platform has pros and cons, and you will need to factor in a chunk of time to do your research here, as it’s imperative to choose wisely depending on the age, demographic, and activities of your customer. Of course, you can start by asking your current customers.

You will need an individualised marketing strategy for each platform specific to your business. When you start, you should clearly define your audience and tailor content for each stage of the conversion funnel. Before you commit your full budget, you should begin by publishing one or two pieces of experimental content in places you have targeted as likely to produce good results. Once you have these results, you will be in a stronger position to make firm decisions about what your next move should be.

Some businesses are so niche that they need to utilise direct marketing. This means that in some cases your best marketing strategy will be to connect to your customers with a phone call.   

Speaking to a professional marketing strategist will give you a distinct advantage in learning where you should be committing your budget and what mix of channels will give you the best chance to attract and convert prospective customers. 

How to create a marketing calendar

Creating a strategic marketing calendar is indispensable to ensuring your marketing is productive and this calendar should be intrinsically linked to your goals. You should have an actionable plan to keep your projects moving and, importantly, a person designated to follow through on the items in your calendar. 

It’s wise to do your customer insight research first, and it’s likely that this will uncover some changes for your website and brochure that will need to be addressed before you start rolling out your marketing materials. Be certain that the place you are sending your customers is clean and credible, include some SEO content and be careful with your grammar and spelling.

The initial process of discovery is about where you see yourself now, what has motivated you to begin strategising and what results you hope to achieve. You should speak to your customers, research your competitor's offerings, and really nail down the position you inhabit before you decide which channels are best as a jumping-off point for your marketing strategy. 

Once all the initial information has been discovered, collated, and examined, a phase of experimentation will be worked into your calendar to see where the best results will be achieved. Once the right channel/s for your unique offering have been established, you can set your calendar to roll out well placed content within the framework of your budget.

You should plan your marketing strategy at least three months in advance if you are a smaller company and try and set out a timeline a year in advance if you oversee marketing for a bigger company. You need to establish a cadence with your marketing strategy that includes checking the progress of all the advertising you have placed on your chosen channel/s. 

Measuring results should be factored in, and you need to leave space in your marketing calendar to make iterative improvements. A thoroughly designed calendar will also allow you to be flexible and dynamic, as events outside your control may occur that require a quick rollout of content or copy. 

Keeping a few pieces of marketing content up your sleeve is practical and keeping your finger on the pulse of upcoming local or national events and happenings can provide extra opportunities to engage your prospective customers.

Examples of an effective marketing strategy

Even if your business is small, clever strategic marketing can build trust, increase loyalty, and help you grow your client base now - and in the future. You could even highlight your offering in ways that make prospects choose you ahead of more prominent or well-known brands. 

Below are some examples of strategic marketing; these brands have addressed their Brand Communications Marketing, Digital Marketing, and Content Marketing in coherent and exciting ways that have produced great results

N2P Control Systems

N2P are an engineering company that resides in a specialist niche, supplying asphalt control systems and water/wastewater pumps. When they approached Creative Content to take a fresh look at their branding and marketing, Creative Marketing Strategist Theresa Brady 

took a three-pronged approach.

To begin with, the N2P team needed a website and brochure revamp. Theresa arranged and oversaw photoshoots, the Creative Content team restructured the site and brochures, and professional writing staff produced engaging copy for both locations.

Additionally, Creative Content created several databases for N2P to connect with each customer segment. This allowed them to target specific customers with emails that raised product and brand awareness and strengthened ongoing B2C communications.

Creative Content has provided cost-effective marketing solutions that get results by building loyalty and using engaging copy, professional images, and a concise structure to update N2P’s public profile as authoritative and approachable.

New Zealand Immigration Law (NZIL)

When highly experienced principal lawyer Aaron Martin started his own firm, he needed to increase his profile, build a new brand, and launch a website to connect with his clients online.

As an expert in his own field of NZ Immigration Law, Aaron realised the value of using a creative marketing specialist when it came time to formulate a marketing strategy. With the business in the capable hands of Creative Content, when the pandemic hit, Brady and her team turned a challenge into an opportunity, elevating Aaron’s professional profile across the digital landscape with high-quality thought leadership content, opinion pieces, and ongoing public relations.

Coming off the back of tremendous foresight - where Theresa had launched an employer accreditation campaign for NZIL in 2019 - NZIL was able to amplify its presence as educators and experts on the accreditation process.

Creative Content boosted website traffic and increased leads with a strategic digital marketing plan that included SEO, AdWords, and a Facebook funnel, ensuring consistent capitalisation was possible during challenging times.

Landmark Homes

With the help of Creative Content, Landmark Homes has made the move to results-based marketing, and they are now generating more leads with a lower marketing spend. 

Moving out of television advertising and redirecting its budget into the digital arena, starting with Google AdWords and Facebook Ads, Landmark had shifted to a more measurable results model; however, working on its own was not producing particularly promising conversion statistics.

When Landmark turned to Creative Content, the agency disseminated targeted content on Facebook and branched out into Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Theresa analysed the AdWords spend and advised a 50% scale back, then ran a Facebook funnel which produced half the leads in 6 weeks that Landmark had garnered across the entire previous year.

The Facebook funnel model drove such a large volume of qualified leads over a six-month period that the Landmark Homes sales team had to reformulate processes and systems to cope with the demand. Theresa provides monthly reports to keep the company up to date with website traffic results and advised Landmark to update the functionality and layout of their franchisee website.

Landmark has become more organised due to Theresa’s big-picture thinking; they have increased brand clarity and their social standing while tapping into greater cost efficiency.

Work with Creative Content and let us handle your marketing strategy.

Creative Content can help you navigate your way towards an exceptional marketing strategy for your new or established business. 

We want to get to know you, your customers, and competitors and tailor make a marketing strategy that works with your values and your budget.

It’s never too late to start strategising for your business, so if you feel like you could level up or want to take better care of the customers you already have, get in touch today.

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