Fix Your Marketing With A Strategy

In this three-part series we are exploring the common small business problem of “broken marketing”. In Part 1, we discussed how to determine if your marketing is broken, and how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a program in need of help. 
 
In this article we discuss the development of a marketing strategy and a plan that will help to focus your company on success. 
 
Who should develop the strategy?
As the business owner, strategy development should start with you, because you are ultimately the person responsible for both its execution and overall results. But we strongly encourage owners to create a strategy team that includes key stakeholders such as sales managers, product development leaders, customer service directors and, of course, any marketing team members. The best strategy takes in a wide perspective and many opinions, and the business owner alone can’t provide that. Seek out those who are qualified to view your marketing with perspective, either to how it should work for their area of the company, or for the company in general. For a strategy to be effective, it needs a wide perspective as well as a focused effort. 
 
Your strategy team should be comprised of doers as well as thinkers. Providing ownership of the strategy leads to better execution. Consider including the parties who will be directly responsible for executing, evaluating and measuring the results of your programs. If someone wants to contribute to the strategy, make sure they know that they will have a hand in its execution. This ensures that they are not only looking at the whole picture, but that they will focus some of their energies on a day-to-day basis to your marketing initiatives.
 
If you have a smaller business, or don’t have team members who are qualified to prioritize the marketing strategy, you can consider bringing in expert help at this stage. Outside experts offer a third-party perspective as well as the potential for expertise in the areas where your marketing suffers most. If you need extra hands with execution, you’ll have a qualified partner who understands your goals that you can rely on to carry out your marketing tactics with knowledge and care.
 
What do I do with this strategy plan?
Once you have a clearly defined strategy, one that includes buyer personas, awareness stages and clearly defined goals, it’s time to delve into tactics. 
 
Great marketing isn’t an accident, it takes a plan. Now that you know what you want to achieve, you can start to plan the tactics that will get you to that goal. You may need to include tactics such as event marketing (e.g., trade shows, conferences), print materials (flyers, catalogs), a digital program (email, blogging, social, website), and a host of other marketing vehicles and efforts that may be appropriate for your budget and market. It’s important to realize that all of your marketing channels must work together to achieve the end goals you set for your strategy. No program is independent of the rest, they must work in concert to help you realize results.
 
Planning your tactics
We often ask clients to visualize the gears of a clock or machine when they are developing their tactics. Each gear or cog turns and makes the others do the same. Understanding how unrelated programs work together helps to build both coherence of message and consistency in presentation.
 
Let’s say, for example, you want a prospect to read your blog post to help lead them down your marketing funnel, here is how that could play out:
 
  • Prospect stops by your booth at a trade show or hears you speak at a conference
  • Prospect receives an email follow up, but sees only the subject line as they are too busy to read an email that week 
  • Prospect later connects with you or your business from an invitation on social media
  • Prospect sees a social post about a blog that you wrote
  • Prospect comes across another email promoting your blog post and opens it
  • Prospect visits your website where your blog post is presented 
 
You can see from the scenario above that a single “touch” to the prospect did not bring about the desired result. It was the repetitive action across various marketing channels that encouraged your prospect to visit your website and read your blog. If you were only thinking tactically, you might have concluded that email was not effective because the prospect did not open the first one, or  that the social media post “wasn’t working” because it didn’t receive a like or comment. However, when examined from a more strategic perspective, you realize that the prospect just needed a little “nudging” to get them to your goal, encouragement that was provided across several different channels to achieve the desired effect. 
 
 
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Now that you understand how to build your marketing strategy, it’s time to implement a fix. Watch for our next blog post to learn how to implement your plan.