Every successful advertising campaign starts with a detailed marketing strategy. Period. The exact methods and tools may differ, but as I’ve learned over the years of being a marketer, this one thing stays the same.
In today’s post, I will help you check what elements you should include in your marketing strategy and how to make sure it will be successful.
Let’s dive in.
Start with the ‘why’
First and foremost, what you need to remember is that your marketing strategy must stem from how you’re building your brand and how you’d like your company to be perceived. This will help you keep all your communications consistent and easy to grasp by your targeted audiences.
The primary example of this approach to building an advertising strategy was and still is the technology mogul, Apple. Although you probably don’t need to follow their marketing plan to the smallest details, there are a few things that you can learn from their take.
One of the most important lessons is the fact that coherence is the key when it comes to advertising. Apple has been promoting their products in nearly the same way since the early 80’s. By now they have a huge base of followers that closely track their each and every release. What’s also really apparent when you look at the Apple’s marketing strategy is how consistent they’ve been with their strategy.
Let’s take a look at their ads from their early days:
And here are the visuals they’ve used in one of their latest ad campaigns from 2017:
While the fonts and formatting of the ad may look differently, I think you get the idea. Apple ad campaigns may be mocked by other brands (most recently by Ikea in 2017), but you have to admit that they have been following the same pattern since the very beginning, which has been clearly tailor-made to their prospective customers.
In addition to simplicity, other trademark elements of their strategy include strong significance of the visual side of their campaigns and building a 360° customer experience around marketing their products rather than treating them as a one-off transaction. This approach becomes crystal clear once you enter one of their stores:
All its elements, from the design down to customer service, are complementary to what you’ll find in their advertising campaigns and speak volumes about Apple as a brand.
This leads to another interesting thing with Apple’s advertising strategy. As Neil Patel writes in his article about 7 Key Strategies That You Must Learn from Apple’s Marketing, their approach also meant that in a relatively short time, they have been able to turn ‘casual purchasers into brand ambassadors.’ That’s what you should ultimately aim for while creating your own marketing strategy.
While Apple’s marketing strategy was built around consistency and simplicity, Swedish retail giant, H&M seems to be looking at advertising from a completely different angle. The most dominant element of their strategy is customer segmentation.
Unlike Apple, where the goal was to possibly unify all members of their targeted audience and turn them into an influential brand ambassador community, H&M heavily relies on diversifying their marketing messages. What’s significant here is the fact that they are doing it across their whole brand. The segmentation goes far beyond marketing, including their pricing, website copy, and even their designs.
As you may have noticed, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to creating a robust marketing strategy. Here’s a list of steps you should consider:
1. Decide on the goal(s) of your strategy
As I’ve learned from my advertising practice, this is the most critical element of a marketing strategy. Not establishing it as early as possible in the planning stage may result in the campaign not being successful.
The exact goal of your strategy will depend on your place in the business journey and how you’d like to grow your business (you may as well call it your overall business strategy).
Some of the most popular goals may be built around increasing brand awareness, acquisition, and retention. It’s important to make sure that the marketing strategy you create focuses on your business’ fundamental challenges and opportunities.
Don’t try to cover all bases at once with your marketing strategy and be of value to all imaginable customer groups at once.
Depending on the business development stage of your business, your primary goal also may be slightly different. While early phase startups may be interested in acquiring new users/customers and their activation in early days after signup, for more matured ventures, retention, and long-term customer engagement will be far more critical.
Also, make sure that you are 100% sure how to track these goals and how to measure the success of your strategy. What tools and resources you could use to assess it? You want to pick a few key performance indicators and focus on tracking these. Learn what KPIs you could choose in this article from our blog.
The exact methods will depend on your goals and channels you decide to use. I personally use Mention and Google Alerts for tracking any changes in brand awareness, and tools like Mixpanel and Google Analytics for measuring retention.
One of the most common mistakes when working on marketing strategy goals is setting them up at an unreachable level (kudos to you if you’re not guilty of this!). It’s safe to assess that you will be able to increase your website traffic by 5-10% in 6 months time, but a 200% spike may not be likely to happen in such short time frame. If you’re new to setting marketing goals I highly recommend checking KissMetrics’ article on how to set up achievable marketing goals.
2. Check what your competitors are doing
I won’t encourage you to spy on your competitors, but it wouldn’t probably hurt your business if you’d do some research. The first step is assessing who your rival companies are, and running a SWOT analysis on these to find out what niches and opportunities you could jump on. I’ve mentioned how to successfully conduct these in one of my latest articles on partner marketing, so you can have a look over there.
Next step will be to check what other businesses are doing when it comes to marketing strategy. Some of the elements you could look into are:
- what channels are other companies using,
- what are their primary communication channels,
- what are the goals of their campaigns and do they present a compelling USP,
- and what are their targeted audiences.
Again, once you have all of these analyzed, it’s time to review whether you can leverage any untapped channels and/or audiences.
3. Make sure you’ve got your USP
Marketing goals and your competitors business activities will also be important for deciding on your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
Go into good ol’ Wikipedia, and you’ll find this USP definition: A unique selling proposition (USP) refers to the unique benefit exhibited by a company, service, product or brand that enables it to stand out from competitors. The unique selling proposition must be a feature that highlights product benefits that are meaningful to consumers.
The term was coined by the television advertising trailblazer, Rosser Reeves in the 1940s. It has been used by thousands companies to help them assess their offer ever since.
Is having a Unique Selling Proposition still valid in 2018? The simple answer is: yes… and no.
While knowing what differentiates your product from those of your competitors is essential, it is also something that will probably change as you advance in your business journey. Your USP now may be very different from what will it look like in say, 5 years.
Once you start building your customer base, you may also notice that your users and collaborators may see your USP from few different perspectives. Based on their feedback, you may be able to give your overall this element of a marketing strategy a slightly revisioned spin.
What’s important here is the fact that as stated above, USP is not about your business goals and actions you’d like to encourage your users or customers to take. In short, it’s all about what your customers may want to get from and achieve by using your product or getting involved in a business relationship with you.
3. Choose your user personas
Now it’s time to focus on user personas. Imagine your ideal customer and create their detailed profile, including:
- and goals.
This is how your persona template may look like:
As you can see collecting all data in one place will help you laser focus on your marketing message and create a targeted pitch.
Don’t hesitate to add more specific details related to your business goals into your user persona templates. These could include a list of websites your ideal customers visit and get their news from, or where they see themselves in 5-10 years.
If you already have your first customers, things are even simpler than this. Check who is using your product or services using tools like Google Analytics and base your personas on these results. You can also base the personas on your loyal customers you had a chance to connect with in real life and include quotes from them in your documents.
4. Decide on the budget
How to quickly decide on a budget for your campaigns? Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to do it, and the response will largely depend on which channels you consider using and the competitiveness of your industry.
Let’s check what methods you could use when trying to decide what amount you should spend on your advertising campaigns.
One thing you should base this number on is the performance of your past campaigns. What were their goals and which channels did they employ? How successful were they, and how did they stack up against your overall marketing strategy? You may discover that, i.e., one channel worked better than the other and it may be worth investing a bit more in there.
Another approach you could take is deciding on a marketing budget for your campaigns based on your industry benchmarks. With a bit of research, you should be able to find data specific to your area of business activity.
There’s research available on what percentage to spend on paid advertising, paying your collaborators (like copywriters and graphic designers), and on distributing your content. You may also be interested in looking into this as well to make sure that you haven’t missed anything in your budget.
There’s one more way to go about your budget allocation too. You can assign a certain amount of money to each of your campaigns and then tweak it based on their performance and results. This method will be perfect for anyone who is just diving into the world of marketing and has no benchmarks to rely on. It’s also great if you’re already running ads, but want to try out a new channel or an improved marketing strategy.
5. Decide on the tone of voice
A tone of voice is sometimes overlooked while creating a marketing strategy, but that’s one of the most important things you can leverage in your advertising communications. Once again, your approach will depend on the numbers of factors, including your user personas, existing customer base, and channels you’ve decided to employ.
From my perspective, what you should strive for is closely matching your messages to the customers you’d like to reach and talking their language. This needs to be implemented across all of your communication channels too, including customer support and social media.
When you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur, the tone of voice can be a single-page document attached to the rest of your marketing strategy.
If you’re a seasoned marketer, you may want to create an all-including paper that will cover all of your communication channels and include example scenarios that your team can refer to anytime. To give you an idea of it may look like, you can take a look at how Mailchimp and Buffer handled their tone of voice documents.
6. Choose your channels
Choosing the right communication channel may be crucial to the overall success of your marketing strategy.
Which channels may work for your advertising strategy? Here’s a chart detailing which of these have been effective for other companies:
Once again, it’s important to remember that the exact strategy will depend on your business development stage, industry, and targeted audiences. Make sure that you research which comms channels are your competitors using and where your potential customers are before executing. While Youtube or email marketing will work great for some companies, it may be entirely ineffective for others.
7. Start implementing the strategy and test it out
After all of this planning, it does sound pretty straightforward, right?
Once you have your overall marketing strategy at the ready, it’s time to start planning your campaigns and decide on what type of assets you will need for each of your channels (be it content strategy for your blog or email campaign template).
Preparing these may take a few weeks, but with your goal, people you’d like to connect with, and key performance indicators in mind, it shouldn’t be complicated. Ready, set, go!
8. Review and tweak the strategy
As with all things marketing, reporting and revising will be as important as research and actual execution process.
We’ve talked about your goals and KPIs before, and these are precisely the metrics you should track. What I usually do for my marketing campaigns is setting up a spreadsheet where I check on these each week to see how are my strategy is being executed and if the key numbers I’m focusing on are increasing or going down (depending on what my main goal was). You may want to set your spreadsheet up before you get going. I also highly recommend automating at least some parts of it with tools like Zapier.
Make sure that you review your overall advertising strategy on a regular basis too (quarterly assessment would be ideal here).
Over to you
Ok, so that’s all for today. Let’s review what are the elements of a marketing strategy set for success:
- competitive analysis,
- user personas,
- tone of voice,
- a list of channels,
- a growth report.
Already have your marketing strategy? As always, I’d like to encourage you to include partner marketing in the scope of your advertising techniques. You can learn about and sign up for our own Partner Program on our website.
What are your techniques for creating a compelling marketing strategy? Share these in the comments below or on Twitter!