7 Steps of a Marketing Strategy Process
A robust marketing strategy will reach your target audience – this includes those who have never heard of your brand all the way to repeat customers.
Without a defined strategy, you’ll essentially be throwing things to the wall to see what sticks. And it’s costing you cost, time, and resources.
1. Build a marketing plan.
Wait, I have to make a plan for my strategy? What's the difference?
Your marketing strategy provides an overview of the reasons why your marketing team will need certain resources, take certain actions, and set certain goals over the year. Your marketing plan is the specific actions you'll take to achieve that strategy.
The right template can help you build a marketing plan that identifies your budget for the year, the initiatives your marketing organization needs to tackle, and the marketing channels you'll use to implement those initiatives.
Plus, it’ll tie everything back to a business summary, to keep you aligned with overarching company goals.
2. Create buyer personas.
If you can't define who your audience is in one sentence, now's your chance to do it. A buyer persona is a snapshot of your ideal customer.
For example, a store like Macy's could define a buyer persona as Budgeting Belinda, a stylish working-class woman in her 30s living in a suburb, looking to fill her closet with designer deals at low prices.
With this description, Macy's Marketing department can picture Budgeting Belinda and work with a clear definition in mind.
Buyer personas have critical demographic and psychographic information, including age, job title, income, location, interests, and challenges. Notice how Belinda has all of those attributes in her description.
3. Identify your goals.
Your marketing strategy goals should reflect your business goals.
For example, if one of your business goals is to have 300 people attend your annual conference in three months, your goal as a marketer should be along the lines of boosting online registration by 10% at the end of the month to stay on track.
Other marketing goals might be to increase brand awareness or generate high-quality leads. You might also want to grow or maintain thought leadership in your industry or increase customer value.
Whatever your goals, identify what they are and how your marketing organization can work to achieve them over the next year.
4. Select the appropriate tools.
Once you have your goals identified, make sure you have the right tools to measure the success of those goals.
Online software like social media schedulers gives you analytics to help you keep track of what your audience likes and doesn't. Alternatively, you might consider Google Analytics to measure blog and web page performance.
Additionally, make your goals SMART – to do so, take a look at How to Write a SMART Goal [+ Free SMART Goal Template].
5. Review your media.
Decide what you already have in your arsenal that can help you create your strategy. To streamline this process, think of your assets in three categories – paid, owned, and earned media.
- Paid media means any channel you spend money on to attract your target audience. This includes offline channels like television, direct mail, and billboard to online channels like social media, search engines, and websites.
- Owned Media refers to any of the media your marketing team has to create: pictures, videos, podcasts, ebooks, infographics, etc.
- Earned media is another way to say user-generated content. Shares on social media, tweets about your business, and photos posted on Instagram mentioning your brand are all examples of earned media.
Gather your materials in each media type and consolidate them in one location to have a clear vision of what you have and how you can integrate them to maximize your strategy.
For example, if you already have a blog that's rolling out weekly content in your niche (owned media), you might consider promoting your blog posts on Twitter (paid media), which customers might then reTweet (earned media). Ultimately, that will help you create a better, more well-rounded marketing strategy.
If you have resources that don't fit into your goals, nix them. This is a great time to clean house and identify gaps in your materials.
6. Audit and plan media campaigns.
Cleaning house segues straight into this step. Now, you must decide which content is going to help you.
Focus on your owned media and marketing goals. For instance, will updating the CTAs at the end of your blog posts help you increase RSVPs to your event?
Next, look at your buyer personas. Let's say you work for a video editing software company. If one of your persona's challenges is adding clean sound effects to their videos but you don't have any content that reflects that, make a 15-second demo video for Instagram to show how great your product is at solving that challenge.
Finally, create a content creation plan. The plan should include topic clusters, goals, format, and channel for each piece of content. Be sure to include which challenge it's solving for your buyer persona.
For ideas on content creation or a more in-depth look at how to create a content plan, check out our post, The Ultimate Guide to Content Creation.
7. Bring it to fruition.
At this point, your market research and planning should help you visualize how your strategy will be executed – and by which teams.
The final step is to bring that all together and assign actions to your plans.
Create a document that maps out the steps you need to take to execute your campaign. In other words, define your strategy.
Think long-term when creating this document. A standard strategy document is 12 months. This structured timeline should be the home base for your strategic marketing efforts.
To paint an example, let's go back to the video software company.
Maybe in January, you will launch a software update that improves the exportation process for users. In April, you want to publish an ebook that explains editing terms to your buyer personas, and in September, you plan to launch an integration with other software.
Remember, your digital strategy is unique to your business, so the document should be as well. As long as the strategy includes the pertinent details outlined in previous sections, you'll be set.
- Queen City Media