We’re already halfway through 2018. Did you create a digital marketing strategy for this year and beyond? If not, then did you at least consider the importance of a marketing strategy this year?
Don’t worry, it’s not too late still. In this post we’ll show you the key reasons that highlight the importance of a marketing strategy for your business in 2018 and the years to come.
The Importance Of A Marketing Strategy For Business
Many business owners haven’t discovered the importance of a marketing strategy. In fact, having a marketing strategy is so useful that you can think of it as having a road map (or a cheat sheet). It will guide you in just about every business decision that you make.
But what exactly does a marketing strategy entail?
In short, your marketing strategy will highlight the path you’re taking to achieve your specific objectives and goals.
This may sound simple, and it is. But it’s not always easy to ask the hard questions that come with creating a marketing strategy.
And this is the main reason why many businesses don’t recognize the importance of a marketing strategy.
Consequences Of Not Having A Marketing Strategy
Why do most small businesses fail? Why do 50% of companies fail after 5 years?
Remember that common saying? Failing to plan is planning to fail.
If you fail to recognize the importance of a marketing strategy and don’t fully integrate digital marketing into your marketing plan, then these will be the consequences:
- losing out to competitors
- losing market share to existing and start up competitors
- gaining and retaining fewer customers
- missing out on opportunities for better targeting and optimization
- Lack of planning often leads to suboptimal execution. This means that competitors will pose more of a threat, filling in the gaps of the lackluster service you offer.
And finally, given the effectiveness of digital marketing, many businesses don’t allocate enough resources towards it. This presents an opportunity for the wise business owner.
Knowledge is power, and after you finish reading this post, your business will have a leg up over the competition. You’ll also be ready to overcome the initial hurdles that are common when trying to come up with a marketing strategy.
Challenges Of Creating A Marketing Strategy In 2018
The most common challenge that business owners face when creating a marketing plan is “where do I start?” In fact, this is the most common obstacle for just about any goal in life really.
And like with many other things in life, the key is to make this large task manageable by dividing it into smaller pieces. We’ll talk more about that later.
The scope and scale of digital marketing in 2018 is quite large. In order to break it down, you’ll need to plan out a do-able number of digital marketing activities that will fully cover the Customer Journey.
Along the way you’ll discover tools for beating the competition and increasing sales and profits at the same time.
Below you’ll learn how your business can benefit when you embrace the importance of a marketing strategy.
So let’s get right to it.
Find Your Target Demographic
It’s common marketing knowledge that you should create a marketing strategy focused on specific audiences and serving their needs. In order to do this, you have to identify your target audiences’ interests as well as their pain points.
Your target demographics will also dictate what social media marketing strategy you use.
For example, if you’re targeting seniors, then boisterous Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat accounts likely won’t work very well.
If you aren’t sure who your customers really are, then try the following:
- review all your product orders
- do an assessment of your followers on social media
- “eavesdrop” on social media to build up an accurate Buyer’s Persona
And if you think that Google Analytics is sufficient for learning who your target demographic is, then think again.
GA is good for getting raw numbers, but not raw emotions (i.e. customer sentiments). To do this you’ll need to use website feedback tools.
Finding your target demographic is a key part of creating your marketing strategy. This is because when creating your marketing strategy, you must be as specific as possible.
You should be asking specific questions such as:
- If you want more sales, how many?
- And from what demographics?
- And by what time?
- And why do you want to market to those demographics?
If you don’t intimately know who your target demographics are, you won’t know who your online audience is. And you also won’t know what your share of the market is.
Remember that online communications based around your competitors and customers will be different compared to your traditional marketing channels. If you don’t know who your online audience is, you won’t have an optimal digital marketing plan.
A suboptimal plan might lead to you underestimating online demand for your online product or services. As well as missing marketing opportunities.
But the great thing with digital marketing is that each digital marketing platform has its own tools that will help you figure out customer demand. A couple examples are:
- Search gap analysis with Google keyword planner. This helps you figure out visitors search intent, or in other words what attracts them to your website.
- Facebook IQ – helps you see how many interested prospects you can reach.
Utilize The Proven SMART Strategy
SMART is a useful acronym to know and it has taken on many different but similar meanings over the years. This is particularly so with marketing (just try doing a Google image search of SMART marketing).
In this case, we’re referring to the traditional meaning of SMART:
Without a SMART marketing strategy, you’ll be directionless. You’ll have no actionable path to follow for gaining new customers or maintaining relationships with existing ones.
Your goals must also be SMART-ly translated into marketing initiatives. Otherwise you likely won’t put enough resources into reaching your goals, or you’ll put your resources into the wrong things. That’s what happens when you don’t set goals and measure your success through analytics.
In order to be SMART, you must first be honest with yourself. Perform the steps below to incorporate SMART goals into your marketing strategy:
- Benchmark where you are now and compare this with where you want to be in the future.
- Identify the basic marketing goals that you want to accomplish this year. Now set clear objectives for each goal so that you can measure your progress against the attainment of these goals. Use the SMART approach with each goal!
- Involve your business’s key players (or just yourself) and ask the following questions:
-what are your revenue goals for 2018?
-what percent of revenue will be from existing customers compared to new customers?
-what percent of leads will come from your marketing?
-what is your average sale size and deal closing ratio?
-how many leads do you require to reach your goals?
Keep Everyone On The Same Page
One of the key parts of the importance of a marketing strategy is keeping everyone in the organization on the same page. This means that everyone should understand the marketing strategy.
That way no matter who’s in charge of the social media posts for the day, they will all have the same consistent message.
When everyone is on the same page, your organization will also be able to effectively utilize the skills of all employees and stakeholders.
But what happens when everyone isn’t on the same page? One word: duplication.
What is duplication? In the worst sense, duplication means inefficiently doing the daily tasks that need to be done.
Duplication will waste your time and money. If everyone in the organization purchases/uses different tools and different agencies, but are performing similar online marketing tasks, then duplication is probably happening.
Staying on the same page also means keeping everything integrated. This includes your digital marketing activities and your traditional marketing activities.
You want your traditional media marketing and response channels to remain consistent along with your digital marketing channels. This requires integration and embracing the importance of a marketing strategy for your business.
Keep Everything Timely
Following the train of thought with keeping everyone on the same page, you also want to keep everyone on the same timeline. And you must create a timeline in order for this to work.
The importance of a marketing strategy is highlighted by the timeliness of its plans. As we all know, timing is critical when it comes to business.
But before you can create a timely marketing strategy, you have to fully commit to digital marketing. You must accept that it will require consistent and constant attention. If you think that don’t have the time or patience, then hiring a digital marketing agency is always an option.
Consistent and constant attention implies the following:
- Being responsive to questions and messages.
- Being responsive to likes and tweets.
- Putting yourself out there with your own likes and tweets. In other words, being social on social media!
- Always responding to feedback, whether good or bad.
- Responding in a professional manner.
You must also be adaptable enough to keep up or catch up with the newest trends.
See how the top companies do this? They keep up with newest methods to increase or maintain their target audience.
When you’re committed to staying adaptable, then you’ll be all set on the path to optimization.
And with the right marketing strategy you’ll get the basics right. Then you can continue to improve upon the key aspects of your digital marketing strategy. For example, search marketing, social media marketing, etc.
Now, to tie all this together, it’s of course essential to write down dates/deadlines and your objectives. It’s best to do this on a marketing calendar. It will detail your timelines to achieve your objectives. You should check this calendar on a weekly basis at least.
There are many different marketing calendar templates that you can find for free via Google search. For example, here’s an annual marketing calendar template. There are also weekly ones, monthly ones, calendars for social media marketing, calendars for content marketing, you name it.
Your list of tasks should address these 3 key aspects:
- Leadership roles for producers and reviewers in your objectives
- Basic details of the campaign: a working title, main elements, target demographics, etc (you can flesh out the rest of the details during the planning stage of the campaign)
- What are the key dates: for example, conference dates, when campaigns are launched, etc.
Finally, you’ll want to integrate real world events that relate to your business into your marketing strategy. For example, you could run a promotion off of Valentine’s Day or National Donut Day. Even though Edible Arrangements doesn’t sell donuts, they capitalized on National Donut Day by offering cored out granny smith apple slices dipped in chocolate.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure it’s right for what your business offers to your target customer. You can play off of the popularity of the holiday, or against it – use your imagination!
You Can Make Your Brand More Authentic
Benefits of making your brand more authentic online:
- attract the right employees to your business
- find the right marketing initiatives
- distinguish your unique selling point (USP) better
- Improve the effectiveness of your brand’s marketing message to your customers and your business partners
It goes without saying that the online marketplace is extremely competitive. Only by accepting the importance of a marketing strategy will you be able to come up with a plan that will help your business stand out in the crowd.
This means creating a unique and powerful value proposition.
So how do you do this?
Great question – here’s how.
Clearly define your customer value proposition (or in other words, why a consumer would benefit from purchasing your product or service). Do this for all of your target customers’ buyer personas. This is the key to differentiating your online services. Doing this will also encourage existing and new customers to engage with your business and stay loyal.
Now in order to cater to your different buyer personas, you’ll need a very competitive content marketing strategy to stand out in the competitive online world. That’s because content is the best way to engage audiences on most digital marketing channel.
But when presenting your brand online, it’s important that you don’t do something that doesn’t resonate with your target audience.
Only a company that specializes in content marketing will be able to present your brand personality with consistency and authenticity across different digital marketing channels.
Our company specializes in social media marketing and content marketing. Give us a call or contact us online and we will help you reach success in 2018 and beyond!