There’s a long journey from concept to a fully grown business. To stand out in a dense market, having a valuable product is not enough – marketing a product or service is essential for survival and for profit. Communicating the right message to the right audience, increasing visibility, a proper analysis of the competition, the branding and the tone of voice are just some of the topics we will address in the following. These are the marks of a marketing strategy with real results.
The demands, desires and needs of a target audience are ever-changing. In the age of speed, you have to quickly adapt to these needs, or a competitor will. Adapting your product or service to the needs of your target audience pertains to marketing, which means a process of research and promotion that targets the satisfaction of your target audience. A marketing strategy means the action plan that we follow seeking profitable results. Metaphorically speaking, if the end of our journey is the growth of our business, the marketing strategy is the journey itself.
If it is well-balanced, consistent, and meaningful, a marketing strategy brings on a series of real business benefits:
- outlines an overall picture of priorities
- increases profit
- consolidates the business
- maximizeaza experienta clientului
- brings added value to the business
- maximizes customer experience
- gives you better visibility within your niche
- enhances the quality of your product or service
- factors in awareness of possible risks
- clarifies right from the start what are the resources, advantages, strengths, and weaknesses.
The marketing strategy may be defined as the process by which your company understands its market and the methods by which it can trigger profitable actions from its customers. In other words, a marketing strategy is about:
- knowing your target audience
- motivating the target audience to undertake profitable actions
- understanding the competition
- measuring marketing activities and constantly adapting to the needs of the target audience.
There is often confusion between marketing strategy and marketing tactics – it is vital to understand that it’s not the things that marketers do that make up for a marketing strategy, but the actual planning. A marketing strategy means a proactive, consistent, and relevant plan of attack, while marketing tactics are the specific actions we take to execute the strategy.
Each type of marketing strategy is unique and requires solid information to be properly understood – marketing includes both online and offline instantiations of the brand, and it applies to B2B and B2C contexts. Below are some types of marketing strategies that can be applied according to our needs:
- Social media marketing strategy, which can include both organic and paid strategies
- Email marketing strategy
- Inbound marketing strategy
- Content marketing strategy focused on creating attractive content
- Editorial strategy – a must for media organizations
- Marketing communication strategy – focused on key messages sent by your business
- Digital marketing strategy – includes a wide range of digital marketing tactics
- SEO strategy
- Offline marketing – includes informative campaigns, fairs, events, brochures, and flyers.
Technically, there is no right way to plan and write a marketing strategy, but there are effective methods we can employ for certain results.
1. SWOT analysis
To begin with, it is essential to understand the competition through SWOT analysis. To be successful in marketing, you need to know your niche. You can start by identifying the following four aspects:
- Strengths: What makes your business the best?
- Weaknesses: What are your business’ most vulnerable points?
- Opportunities: What can your business evolve into?
- Threats: Are there external factors that can affect your success?
Many people do their SWOT analysis, but few use it. Its purpose is to identify a gap and come up with a solution.
2. Defining and understanding the target audience (Core client profile)
Businesses exist to meet the needs of the target audience. It seems obvious, but we can’t stress enough how vital it is to define and understand the target audience correctly. Getting to know your target audience is not a limited-time task, but rather a constant and ongoing process.
The more you instill certain rhythm and dynamics into this process, the easier it will be to position yourself correctly for your customers to choose you, and not one of your competitors. To define and understand the target audience we need to consider two phases:
- Analysis and audit – questionnaires, interviews and audits of you and your competitors to understand where the interests of your customers lay
- Building buyer personas – research-based profiles that depict the ideal customer. The data we include in the buyer persona is twofold: demographic and psychological.
Building buyer personas – research-based profiles that depict the ideal customer. The data we include in the buyer persona is twofold: demographic and psychological:
- demographic data: age, gender, income, level of education, occupation, location, marital status;
- psychological data: lifestyle, passions, career, political affiliations, religious values, priorities, aesthetic sense, obstacles, fears.
3. Competition analysis
When your competition makes a move, make sure you don’t imitate it – that will not bring success. The dynamic between you and your competition is like a dance: when the competition takes a step, you move in the opposite direction or a complementary one. You go someplace where you have room for doing something different. When the competition makes a decision, it gives you the opportunity to tackle unknown areas. You can understand this process more easily if you know your competitors closely. That means:
- identifying your niche competition
- knowing their strengths and weaknesses
- better planning and execution of the marketing strategy: when you understand the competitive landscape, you can easily identify what makes you different and what your opportunities are; it becomes natural to communicate your message to the target audience with full efficiency.
4. Set a budget
You spend money to make money, but a marketing strategy will be tricky to implement if you don’t set a budget. You have to decide from the very beginning how much money you are willing to invest and for what exactly. Without a specific budget, a marketing strategy cannot give results. Usually, you set your monthly budget for next year at the end of the year, based on your business strategy. This budget will give you a clear picture of the strategy and tactics you are about to employ and will help you a lot in planning.
5. Branding, Voice & Tone
Every business has a voice that impacts how your potential customers perceive everything you do. You need to have a distinct identity and a special voice and tone when speaking to those who need your product or service.
Branding and tone of voice are part of the emotional math of your business: how does my product make customers feel and how am I perceived as a business? A well-established branding strategy and tone of voice help to build the brand’s personality. That is what differentiates you from the competition.
Consider an alignment of the three elements – branding, voice & tone, and if you don’t know where to start, call us for help!
6. Set your marketing goals
To be real, success must be measured. That’s why marketing always starts with what the goals are. Goals should be set according to the SMART model:
- Specific: goals must be clear and concise
- Measurable: goals must be measurable
- Achievable: goals have to be realistic for the given context
- Relevant: goals should bring real value to your business
- Time-Bound: goals have deadlines.
7. Marketing channels
To make a purchase decision, potential customers need to see your message in the right place and at the right time. For this, we need to have an understanding of the marketing channels at our disposal:
- ATL (Above The Line) – channels through which you reach a large mass of people
- Print – magazines and newspapers
- BTL (Below The Line)
- Marketing contests
- Direct marketing – channels through which you reach individual customers
- Personalized sales letters
- Mail-order catalogs
- Cold calling
- Email marketing
- SMS marketing
- Website and blog – your brand’s assets on the internet, where sales actually happen
- SEO – 5.6 billion daily searches on Google, a competitive space in which you fight to get traffic
- Email marketing
- Social media – paid or organic
- Youtube – considered by many the second largest search engine, Youtube is responsible for more than a third of all web traffic
- PPC (pay per click) – even though organic traffic is relevant and vital, PPC brings just as many conversions
Perhaps the most handy and least costly option, a business card remains a formidable tool to promote your business. You can offer them to collaborators, people you interact with at various business events, and anyone who might one day become a customer. For such a small object, it has enormous potential. Some of the main qualities of a business card:
- Promotes the name and the brand to potential partners or customers
- Provides useful contact information
- Sends a message about your activity, your style, and your personality
- It can be unusual or attractive, strange or funny, triggering in the minds of those who receive it a similar effect to that of a successful radio or television commercial
- It can be reused, and transmitted from one person to another, circulating the business message to those who come in contact with it
Donations, vouchers, giveaways
Participate in various charities and if you can, donate. You will be able to create a connection with your audience and it will be for a noble cause. Also, at the events that are suitable for such an action, you can offer vouchers for your products or services, or organize contests to offer these goods or services as prizes.
Stay updated on all the events within your industry and try to be one of the speakers. A coherent and interesting speech can leave a lasting impression, and the physical presence of the representative of a business humanizes the brand, increasing its trust.
Even if you do not feel that you have enough authority to give a speech, it is still useful to participate in such events. You will be able to interact with the representatives of other companies and create solid business relationships that will prove useful in the future. Don’t miss any networking moments, talk to the other participants, find out what business they have, and exchange business cards. In other words, be proactive and curious. Where applicable, you may put up a stand, which allows you to discuss with the participants in the event about your business, hand out free samples, etc.
You can organize events yourself when you have a solid customer base. This way you can promote new products or features, encourage the exchange of opinions between your customers, and invite appealing speakers to arouse the interest of the audience.
Send free samples by mail
Even today, or even more so today in the midst of the Internet boom, sending product samples by mail can have a huge impact on your target audience. You would be surprised to find out how many people prefer the traditional mailing. It will cost you more, true, and you might lose a good deal of information that you could get from online campaigns, but you will definitely stand out through this personalized marketing campaign. You can send gift vouchers, product samples, brochures, and just about anything that would promote your business.
Participating in a trade fair favors direct interaction with your competitors. You can obtain extremely useful information regarding their marketing strategies, the way they present their business and in general, what their business strategy is. Also, these fairs are ideal opportunities to promote your own product and build business relationships with other professionals.
If you can afford it, sponsoring an event or collaborating with an NGO to raise funds can help a lot to strengthen your image. You will be able to distribute samples or vouchers, offer discounts and maybe give a speech to promote your business and your philosophy. Sponsorship helps build or maintain a positive image of your brand that people will respect.
Tactics represent the execution of the strategy. When we talk about marketing tactics, we refer to the actual projects that help you achieve your marketing goals and grow your business. Here are some examples of effective marketing tactics:
- strategic partnerships with those who may act as a gateway to your services
- publishing search-optimized landing pages
- promoting new products or services on Youtube
- influencer marketing campaigns
- sending newsletters
- building an online community
- PPC campaigns
- free customer tools: documents, ebooks, browser extensions
- content marketing or inbound marketing
- guest blogging
So you have set your goals, you know the channels in which your business will be active and you know your tactics. All you need now is to know what metrics you will monitor to assess how your tactics perform in the chosen channels, and how close they bring you to your goals. Metrics and KPIs – key performance indicators – are the most important measurable data, because they show you exactly the results of your actions. Metrics can be divided into:
- general marketing metrics: brand awareness, ROI, conversion rate, leads, customer acquisition
- website and blog metrics: referral traffic, organic traffic, total visits over a period of time, number of visitors returning to the site over a period of time, time spent on the page, top pages, unique visitors, bounce rate, device-based sessions, click-through rate
- SEO metrics: keyword ranking, search traffic, SERP visibility, domain authority, page authority, page load speed, organic clicks
- metrics for social media marketing: number of likes, comments, distributions, engagement rate, increase in followers, social media conversions
- email marketing metrics: newsletter subscriptions, number of email subscriptions, number of opened emails, email bounce rate, email forwards
- PPC metrics: cost-per-click (CPC), click-through rate (CTR), total conversion value.
In order to keep your marketing strategy organized and execute it efficiently, you need a marketing calendar that programs your actions. Action planning is necessary because it gives you clarity; this way you make sure that the tasks are performed in their natural order, and also measure in the end whether the execution of the strategy was successful.
Owning a business is not just about selling, it’s about making an impact. It’s about making an evergreen impression on your customers. The big companies of the world have understood this and are constantly implementing it. Here are 3 examples of marketing strategies that generate real results on a daily basis:
- Coca-Cola. Studies show that Coca-Cola is one of the most famous brands in the world. Their logo is recognizable worldwide. How did it become such a well-known brand? The answer is simple: they have kept their brand and product identity for more than 130 years. It can be tempting to change your logo following the latest trends, but consistency is key in any long race.
- Apple. Apple has created innovative products with a special aesthetic, which easily integrate into people’s lives. Products have become for the target audience something they can’t live without. Let’s look at Apple ads for example. There is nothing extravagant about them: they are simple, clear, clean, and they create the feeling of being ultra-modern and innovative.
- Nike. Nike not only sells shoes with special properties, it sells stories. From their website to their TV commercials, Nike promotes endurance fitness, and health – they don’t just sell shoes, they sell more than that.
- GoPro. The GoPro content on Instagram is generated exclusively by trusted users; focused on UGC (user-generated content), GoPro has resorted to a marketing strategy that created and strengthened communities around the world.
- Mercedes Benz. Mercedes celebrated Women’s Day with a video created in Sibiu, which reminds us that the pedal of the first car in history was pressed with a woman’s shoe – Bertha Benz; resorting to emotion, heritage and history, Mercedes understood that they do not sell cars, but travel, safety, trust, and tradition.