A marketing strategy is imperative to any business’s overall plan to reach and convert prospective customers into paying consumers. This means that for it to fulfill its function, your strategy needs to be adequately detailed so that it can offer you the assistance which you need to reach your desired outcomes.
A marketing strategy refers to a business’s overall game plan for reaching prospective consumers and turning them into customers of their products or services. marketing strategy contains the company’s value proposition, key brand messaging, data on target customer demographics, and other high-level elements.
The Marketing Plan
The most important part of a business plan is the Marketing Plan. To keep one’s business on course this plan must be geared toward the business’s mission—its product and service lines, its markets, its financial situation and marketing/sales tactics.
♦ The business must be aware of its strengths and weaknesses through internal and external analysis and look for market opportunities.
♦ The business must analyze its products and services from the viewpoint of the customer—outside-in thinking. What is the customer looking for and what does the customer want (benefits)? The business must gain knowledge of the marketplace from its customers.
♦ The business must analyze its target markets. What other additional markets can the business tap into and are there additional products or services the business can add?
♦ The business must know its competition, current and potential. By identifying the competitor’s strengths and weaknesses the business can improve its position in the marketplace.
♦ The business must make decisions on how to apply its resources to the target market(s).
There is no single “right” way to approach a marketing plan. Your marketing plan should be part of an ongoing self-evaluation process and unique to your business.
1. State the purpose of the marketing plan.
2. Review business goals and objectives as well as specific strategies to reach them.
Everything your company does should be guided by and consistent with your Mission Statement. This is a short (one or two paragraph) statement of the fundamental nature of your business, answering the questions: “What business are we in?” and “Who do we serve?”
The mission statement is the one place you can be general, rather than specific. This is your vision of the business: it’s philosophy, and what makes it different from any other business.
If you don’t already have a mission statement, write one down. Refer to it often as you develop your marketing plan. An opportunity that takes you away from your business
mission is not a good opportunity for you. A strategy or tactic that does not carry the business towards fulfilling its mission is faulty and should be revised.
The goal of marketing is to connect your business’ value to the right customer
base. It’s a simple concept but it can take on a million different shades.
There is no magic bullet
- What demographics make up your customer base?
- Where do they live?
- Where do they hang out online?
- How do they look for products in your niche?
- Who do the listen when making decisions relative to your product?
The answers to these questions determine which marketing strategies will be viable and which will be a waste
1. Facebook Advertising
Two million small to medium sized businesses advertise on Facebook; it’s an inexpensive and effective way to market to virtually any audience.
Image Credit: ibisinfotech.com
Facebook ads excel at advanced targeting. They allow you to target a specific audience based on location, interests, age, sex, online behavior, and many other factors.
Creating Facebook ads is very easy. You just need a solid headline, a bit of descriptive copy, one image, and a link.
Promote your app icon here as well.
The Facebook Ads Manager also makes it fairly simple to run and test multiple ad sets, allowing you to hone in on a winning formula and reach profitability without needing advanced technical expertise.
That said, many new users have a lot of difficulty succeeding with their initial campaigns. It takes some persistence, but on the plus side, Facebook’s popularity has produced numerous 3rd party tools that can help you succeed.
If you decide that Facebook is the right channel for you, I’d recommend using a tool like AdEspresso to run your campaigns and speed up your journey to positive ROI.
If you run a business that has a strong visual component, it might be worth trying out Instagram Ads instead. As a subsidiary of Facebook, Instagram Ads benefit from the same data base and targeting options, while allowing you to connect with an audience that is better primed for visual sales.
- Facebook Advertising Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide by Neil Patel
- How to Run App Install Ads On Facebook by Aki Merced
2. Google My Business
Ranking your Google My Business (GMB) listing is one of the most powerful things you can do for your business.
In fact, if you run a local business targeting local clients, I would dare to say it is THE most powerful strategy available to you.
For example, if someone searches for a “Portland contractor”, this is what they see:
What you are seeing here is one paid ad, followed by THREE Google My Business listings before we even see the normal organic search results. If you can rank your GMB listing in these top 3, you can pull in large numbers of highly qualified leads day in and day out without needing to spend a dime on ads.
Google My Business combines all your different Google platforms into one central place, which includes your Google+ profile, Google Maps profile, your Google reviews, access to data on Google Analytics and Google Insights, and more.
If you have a unique brand name, you can even get a large display like this to show when people search for that name:
GMB immediately gives your business credibility and visibility, and as I said before, if you run a local business, it should be #1 on your priority list.
And best of all, ranking your GMB listing is really not that hard. It simply requires you to optimize your profile and then collect reviews and citations.
- How to optimize your Google My Business listing: expert tips by Graham Charlton
- 7 SEO Mistakes That Leak Money From Local Businesses by Jacob McMillen
3. Google Adwords
There are more than 40,000 search queries on Google every second. No other advertising method has the potential to get your business before that many pairs of eyes.
Google Adwords is sort of the godfather of online marketing channels. It’s been around a long time. It’s competitive. It’s expensive. And if you know what you’re doing, it can work very, very well for you.
Despite being a paid channel, Adwords’ goal is still to deliver relevant search results to users, and as a result, it will be less expensive for you when you are utilizing proper on-page SEO.
Google assigns a quality score to your ad, which is dependent on CTR (Click Through Rate), relevance and the landing page your ad sends traffic to. This quality score factors into the bid rate you will need to get an ad displayed, with higher scores lowering the bid cost.
Unlike many of the channels we will discuss today, Adwords is a remarkably symbiotic channel that can be paired with many other strategies to maximize output. As a paid marketing channel, it also allows you to obtain immediate results and can scale as far as your budget allows.
- The Complete Google AdWords Tutorial by Jerry Banfield
- The Iceberg Effect: How Your AdWords Strategy Is Slowly Drowning by Johnathan Dane
4. Content Marketing
18% of marketers say that content marketing has the greatest commercial impact on their business of any channel in 2021.
Image Credit: SmartInsights
Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience and drive profitable customer action.
Unlike paid advertising, content marketing focuses more on long-term results. The initial payoff tends to be low, but the long-term, sustainable growth in visitors, leads, and customers can single-handedly carry a business.
Content marketing is not easy, however, and requires every element to be done right:
- Quality content
- Relevant topics
- Optimized for SEO
- Optimized for readers
- Consistent content creation & promotion
Content is not limited to blog posts. It includes videos, podcasts, online courses, and a host of other mediums in which people consume information.
If you are considering this strategy for your own business, make sure you have the time and capital needed to get going with no initial ROI, and then DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Too many businesses these days are just wasting resources creating mediocre content with no payoff, now or ever.
- Getting Started With Content Marketing by Content Marketing Institute
- Why You Need a Growth Model For Your Blog (And How to Create One) by Devesh Khanal
- How to Start a Blog in 2020 (and Make Money): Free Easy Guide to Start Blogging Today
by Ryan Robinson
Using social media for business is really a non-negotiable.
67% of consumers use social media for customer support, and 33% prefer using social media instead of the telephone. If people can’t find your business via social media, they will look for your competitors who ARE present on preferred social channels.
The real question isn’t whether you should have active social media accounts, it’s how much time and resources you should be investing in growing your social audiences.
For some businesses, it makes sense to invest heavily in organic social media growth.
For example, Instagram users that follow fashion influencers are actively looking to purchase new styles. By building an active, fashion-savvy audience, a clothing retailer can build a consistent direct sales channel.
For other businesses, investing in Instagram might not make sense.
The key is identifying where your customers are and how they like to be approached. If social media is the answer to both those questions, it’s the perfect channel for your business.
- 7 Step Beginner’s Guide To Effective Social Media for Small Business by Jamil Velji
- The Ultimate Guide To Creating The Perfect Social Media Calendar by Sandrine Sahakians
6. Coupon Deal Sites
Whether you sell a product or offer a service, you can use coupon deal sites like Groupon to quickly promote your business.
Coupon deal sites amass massive audiences, grouped by location, and then allow local, regional or even national businesses to offer limited-time discounts to their members.
Benefits include mass exposure, targeted local advertising, increased brand awareness, and an influx of new customers. The cost comes in the form of low revenue per sale. In the case of Groupon, you are required to discount your product by at least 50%, and at least half the revenue goes to Groupon.
In other words, unless you are running a 300% markup, you will lose money on your Groupon deal. It’s essentially paid advertising.
The primary purpose for using coupon deal sites is not sales. The more significant your discount, the more popular your deal will be. The goal is to get people in your door or trying your product, and from there, your customer retention strategies kick in.
As an added bonus, many new potential customers will browse your website even if they don’t decide to purchase the deal.
But be warned!
If your deal gains traction, you can quickly be overcome by more customers than you are prepared to handle, and if you don’t do the math correctly, you can lose a lot of money. It’s important to be ready and to have a plan for handling different tiers of new business.
It’s also important to have flawless customer service during the period after running your deal, with the expectation that your coupon-driven customers will be even harder to please than normal customers.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Follow deals going on in your area and see how they play out. If you can, talk with fellow business owners who have run deals and learn from their experience.
And make sure – for the love of all that is good and decent – make sure you do the math.
- Doing The Math On A Groupon Deal by Jay Goltz
- The Real Cost of Groupon and What it Means to Your Marketing Planning by Mana Ionescu
7. Email Marketing
Email marketing is the cornerstone of digital marketing.
Most of the people who visit your site will not buy from you immediately. Capturing contact info for additional marketing and “lead nurturing” is the best way to sell in 2016, and email remains the highest converting channel for interacting with leads.
Email marketing funnels begin with a “lead magnet”. This is something compelling you offer your website visitors in exchange for their email address. Possible options include a free digital download, a free service trial, a “seat” at a webinar, site membership, a coupon, etc.
Here’s an example from HubSpot:
HubSpot offers a reliable and feature-packed email marketing tool that’s suited for growing businesses — for free. The tool allows you to create professional marketing emails that engage and grow your audience. You can start from scratch, with the easy drag-and-drop email builder, or use one of the goal-based templates available.
Other benefits of email marketing include:
- Low cost
- Global reach
- Easy to automate
- Easy to segment
- Immediate communication
- Easy to setup and run
- Easy to track and optimize
There are a lot of marketing channels that are hard. As you may have noticed from the above list, email marketing is one of the few that can be described as “easy”.
- 21 Powerful Ways to Quickly Grow Your Email List by Jacob McMillen
- How to Build Your Email List: The (Better Than) Ultimate Guide by Aaron Orendorf
When you go into business, you’re playing to win – and to do that, you need a strategy. Organizational strategy and strategic planning aren’t just for big businesses. Even a one-person business should consider its strategy and work towards meaningful goals. The key word here is “meaningful.” There’s no point in working towards something you don’t feel passionate about.