How do I develop a marketing strategy?

In the last blog we explained what a Marketing Strategy actually is. Hint, it’s a tool to help you cut through the crap, and decide what kind of marketing you should be doing. And then we questioned whether it’s actually necessary? Hint, if you want to grow your business the answer is yes.

And so now, we felt it’s only fair that we give you an idea of how to go about it.

So how DO you develop a marketing strategy?
Well, we’ve been doing this a long time, and we’ve developed a process called a Marketing Strategy Blueprinting that we take all our clients through. It’s a logical, methodical process that’s helped our clients launch new products, sky-rocket sales, enter new markets they’d never even considered before, the list goes on.

The first phase is called Immersion & Research, and unsurprisingly, it’s about analysing the business (as well as its competitors) and where it is right now. Getting a hold of all the facts, statistics, knowledge and insights required to make an accurate assessment of the situation.

This is the ‘input’ part of the process, while the next two phases – Workshopping & Articulation of the Blueprint – are all about ‘outputs’. We’ll blog about them next time.

For now, let’s look at that first part in more detail now. Here are three components:

Revenue Growth

1. Your business plan & objectives

The key, right here at the beginning is that your marketing strategy has to deliver on your business objectives. So you need to be crystal clear about what you’re trying to achieve, before anything else.

Please more specific than ‘make more sales’! Not that we have a problem with that, however, do you want to sell more in your existing market? Or, have you saturated the market already, and need to look overseas, or in different states? Maybe it’s time to squeeze out a competitor, to grab their share of the market too. Or perhaps you want to increase sales, by developing new products to sell into the market you already know?

All of these objectives are perfectly valid, and all could apply to the exact same business.
But if you lay each one down, as the foundation stone of a marketing strategy, each would send you off in a different direction.

And, dare I say it, making more sales isn’t always the best thing to do. What if you could make more money, quicker, from the same amount of sales to begin with? Maybe you can increase your margins by upselling for example.

In that case, a marketing strategy centered on communicating value to your existing client base might be more appropriate, before increasing costs across the board.

And what if you needed to recruit the right people, to support your planned growth? Maybe your marketing strategy, then, would include promoting your employer brand.

Telling a compelling story based on your purpose or vision that your ideal future employees will be drawn to.

So that’s the first step. Determine your business objectives, and then keep all that in
mind as you progress – because that’s what you’ll look back on to determine whether you’ve been successful or not.

2. Marketing activity & data

Next, it’s time to review any past marketing. What have you done that demonstrably worked? What was it that worked; an offer? A channel? The creative execution? How’s your website performing: Site speed? Traffic? Engagement? Enquiries? Sales? Do you know why any peaks are happening?

Combine all the data you possibly can. And not just empirical data either. Talk to your sales people, they’re face to face with customers every day and often have a sense of what’s going on better than anyone else. Anecdotes can be revealing, helping to explain trends in the data you’d never have figured out otherwise.

Questions will arise, and when you follow those threads looking for answers – you’ll probably find where you’ve been going wrong. Then you’re one step closer to doing it better the next time.

I guarantee, focussing on data (and getting someone to explain what the stats mean if you don’t quite get it) WILL improve your results. Yes, it’s not always easy to figure out what’s working in marketing, but the data IS there if you set up its collection properly.

3. Competitive landscape

Now it’s time to look around, and see what your competitors are up to. If you do this on a regular basis, great, and if not, start by having a look at all of their websites. Someone may have a launched a new product, or service that your unaware of. They might have repositioned their brand, and now they’re targeting your specific niche for the first time ever.

Join their mailing list, make an enquiry, even consider placing a few orders, see what their process and customer service are like.

You’re bound to pick up something you can learn from, or adopt as a practice for your own organisation. Pay particular attention to any who are doing extremely well. So long as you don’t breach their copyright, there nothing wrong with ‘borrowing’ a bit of process, or an approach that you like.

Even David Bowie agrees!

“The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from.”
David Bowie

4. Stakeholder insights & views

This is the last part of the ‘input’ phase of the process, and it involves informal one-to-one conversations with key internal people as well as a selection of clients.

Try to get under their skin and have a really honest chat about find out what they think the business could be doing better? Where do they see room for growth? What barriers do they see to making it happen? What gets them up in the morning? What do they worry about?

You’re sifting for nuggets of gold, sure, but also – as with the other steps – eventually patterns or themes will emerge, and when you put it all together you’ll have an amazing picture of the business, the market it operates in, and ideas may already be starting to form.

Ideas that could change everything.

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We get it! The problem with all of this, as ever, is time. Having the time to properly dedicate yourself to the task, generally means not attending to a range of other tasks.

Which is why organisations that don’t have dedicated professional marketers, but still need professional marketing, ask for help in the process.

And if you think you fall into that category, please give us a shout, we can help.
That’s literally what we do, every single day.

Read more about Inside-OutHouse services here. Inside-Outhouse was created by specialist SME marketing consultancy Permission. Read more about Permission here.

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