Written by Terry Ouimet, with curated information from Foundr.com Nathan Chan
Link to original artricle https://foundr.com/marketing-strategy/
SIMPLE TAKEAWAY-A Marketing Strategy is your big vision game plan and it enables you to reach your potential customers and turn those interactions into sales. It aligns with your top business goals and helps you create a sustainable competitive advantage which results in profits.
SIMPLE ACTION STEP- Set time aside to conduct some exercises to: 1. Know yourself, 2. Know your target customer, 2. Learn your competitors strategies, 3. Select your marketing channels, 4. Create marketing goals, 5.Select Marketing Channels, 6. Create marketing tactics.
RELEVANT BOOK-Building A StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen, by Donald Miller.Click this link below to go directly to Amazon and check it out. Full disclosure, I am affiliated with Amazon and receive a small referral reimbursement if you buy the book through this website. Your price is not any higher, but you help SimplifierBlog to stay up and running.
WHY Do I Need This Information For My New Business?
Marketing is an essential tool in your new business toolbox. If you want to beat the odds and keep your new startup in business for years to come, marketing is an essential component to achieving this goal. You have to get the word out to your customers about what you do, why you do it better and why they need it. Marketing is more than advertising, or hitting people senseless over the head with your message. And its not aimlessly blasting your message out on social media with a hope and a prayer. “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” –Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon
Here’s the problem, in today’s noisy online social media jungle it’s extremely difficult to make your message stand out. There are other marketing avenues but one has to admit, most of our customers are hanging out online, most of the time. I don’t want to stress you out by asking you how your email marketing campaign is going and what your conversion rates are? Or how effective your website is at driving traffic with SEO and content? As well as what the analytics are? But these are the things we as new business owners need to understand and excel at if we want to succeed.
I want to simplify this topic and share seven steps with you that will help you develop a strategic marketing plan for your new small business.
WHAT Are The Key Takeaways of This Article?
The 7 Steps To A Marketing Strategy
Know your customer
Know your competition
Know your market
Create marketing goals
Select your marketing channels
Create marketing tactics
Helpful Considerations When Creating Marketing Goals
Create a budget
Write down your marketing goals
Revisit your goals and track ROI
Many entrepreneurs are great at inventing products and services as well as starting a business. However, many are just plain inexperienced and lack the “know how” when it comes to marketing and sales. Additionally, many new entrepreneurs wear all the hats and lack of time is a very real reason that marketing .
Many new businesses report marketing challenges such as:
We don’t have a marketing strategy,
We need more qualified leads.
Our sales should be stronger.
We lack the budget for marketing.
We have no focus to our branding or marketing.
No time for a marketing strategy as a new entrepreneur.
According to modern day marketing genius Seth Godin, the way to business growth is to first select the smallest viable market in your niche. Then, serve the heck out of them, create products and services that matter and tell them to the stories that they want to hear from you.
Since lack of marketing leads to lack of sales which ends up in a lack of a business, we need to figure this out and over come some of these obstacles. There’s no way you are going back to that miserable 9-5 so let’s learn how to create and implement a profitable marketing strategy!
A Marketing Strategy is your big vision game plan and it enables you to reach your potential customers and turn those interactions into sales. It aligns with your top business goals and helps you create a sustainable competitive advantage which results in profits.
Now the main article !
The 7 Steps For Your Marketing Strategy
Understand what you and your product or service bring to the table. I am big on conducting a Self Assessment Inventory prior to starting a business. Your biggest asset in your new business is you.
This exercise will help bring in to focus who you are and what unique traits, experiences and abilities you possess. Knowing your strengths and weakness will help you market and operate your business more effectively. Moreover, I strongly believe in matching up your personality with the market you will be selling in. By that I mean know what drives you and what motivates you.
Take an honest look at your weaknesses. For example, it took me years to figure out why I thrived in certain industries and jobs and wilted on the vine in others. I am a “Creative” which means I like to start new things, I enjoy change, a diverse work environment, and new challenges. That right there is very useful information. “Marketing is really just about sharing your passion.”–Michael Hyatt, Virtual Business Mentor
You want to know what I struggled with the most in my job as a salesman in the oil and gas industry? The monotony of the product and the job was almost enough to make you want to quit and start your own business. So I did. The only thing I had a passion for was the high pay checks. I felt like I was rarely bringing value to anybody.
When I started my first business as a fine art oil painter, I really got discouraged with things like the unpredictability of income, the longer sales cycle, and the amount of time it took to make product. This is why I highly encourage you to spend a day “in the field” prior to opening your business with an entrepreneur that is actually doing what you want to do.
My point is that it’s better to understand yourself prior to opening up so you can operate and market your business from a position of strength. And on the flip side, recognizing your weaknesses so that when they hit, you don’t get discouraged and lose your focus. But instead give yourself some grace and patience, pressing on and remembering why you are doing this in the first place. What is the hill that you are fighting for?
2. KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER
It’s not about you, it’s all about your customer. If you agree, then we must understand who it is we are serving and why they are coming to us for business instead of the company down the street. Once again, if you have followed some of my articles, most of this research should have been done already in your Idea Generation Phase. Now you just need to take the gold nuggets and key takeaways and plug them into your marketing strategy.
Also, the smart marketer will know who their top customers are. They put their time, money and energy into them. They are your bread and butter, your VIP’s and Most Valuable Players.
Remember, your customers sometimes buy what they need, but most of the time they are buying what they want. So our job is to figure out what they really want and develop our marketing strategy around it. For example in the auto industry a customer buying a BMW wants something very different than somebody buying a Toyota Prius. When you buy a BMW you want elite status, luxury and the best car in the world. You get the picture.
“Whether B2B or B2C, I believe passionately that good marketing essentials are the same. We are all emotional beings looking for relevance, context, and connection.“-Beth Comstock, CMO of General Electric
Ways to Understand Your Customer
If you have not already completed your customer research, here are some good ways to gather information and understand the people you are marketing and selling to. Even if you have, look this over in case there is an idea in here that you may have missed. For example have you completed a customer avatar or buyer persona?
Demographics– These are cut and dry stats on people. Age, gender, race, marital status, education, geographical location, income, ethnicity, occupation. If you have existing sales and customers, you can access some of this information. Linkedin and facebook are good ways to find this.
Psychographics-These are a little less concrete and in some ways tougher to obtain, but still necessary. Personality traits, lifestyle, attitudes and interests, where they hang out on social media, what they like to do in life. And I think most importantly, what motivates their buying decisions, their hopes and dreams, their problems. Again, Linkedin, facebook, phone interviews or in person heart to heart talks can help you find this information.
Face to face interviews-Early on as you perfect your idea, you should be speaking with potential paying customers and key decision makers in your industry. This is called the “Proof of Concept” or” Idea Validation”. This is where you gain valuable insight on the buying habits, needs, and problems that your customers have.
This can be done in person or over skype or a similar app for example. Find ways to get in front of your customers and use that time to better understand their pain points and problems. Ask them for 5 minutes of their time and tell them you “need a little help.” Live webinars, although not completely”in person” are becoming more and more popular as a way to meet “face to face” and interact in a productive fashion. Q&A sessions where you purposely avoid marketing or selling in an effort to listen and understand can pay off tremendously.
Surveys or email questionnaires-Asking your customers questions should not stop after the proof of concept or customer research stage. Since the business begins with and centers around the customer, we should always be taking their pulse and picking their brains periodically throughout the life of our business. This information will enable us to make wise business decisions. A very important decision is how to best market to them.
One of the first things you should do in your business is build an email list of potential customers. With all the online websites and apps available to us, email marketing is still top of the list for effectiveness. Use that platform to interact with and learn from your audience.
You can also use social media such as twitter and Instagram to connect with your tribe and ask them quick questions. Just a simple “What are you struggling with right now?” can yield valuable insights for your marketing efforts. If you need to throw in a freebie, coupon or some kind of incentive, do it.
Social media connections-Facebook groups, direct messaging within the Instagram app, Twitter tweets are all examples of ways to directly interact with your customers. Again, simply ask for their help and tell them you are trying to serve them better and make a better product. Ask them what their biggest challenges are right now. Find out what the like or dislike about your product as well as your competitors.
Studying the competition– If you are brand new and have no customers or leads, research (spy) the websites, blogs, and social media platforms of your competitors. Troll the comments sections and other forums or wherever you can see their customers commenting, giving feedback and asking questions. Understanding their customers is the next best thing and will give you valuable insight.
Customer Avatar -Create a document that organizes all this customer information in one place in a succinct fashion. Similar to a Resume or Bullet point one pager with all these gold nuggets of information. It’s called a buyer perona or customer avatar. Basically you create a fictitious character that is an exact representation of your ideal customer. This will serve as your north star or anchoring point if you will with all your marketing and sales efforts.
There are many avatar templates available online. Just download one and start filling it out the demographic and psychographic information. This article from Optinmonster gives several good examples for you.
When you have gathered all this valuable information, answer these questions below to simplify the data and bring things into focus:
WHO ARE MY CUSTOMERS?
WHAT DO THEY BUY NOW?
WHY DO THEY BUY THIS PRODUCT OR SERVICE NOW?
WHAT ARE THE CUSTOMER PAIN POINTS OR PROBLEMS?
WHAT WILL MAKE THEM BUY FROM ME? HOW AM I DIFFERENT? WHAT IS MY SOLUTION?
Answering these questions above will undoubtedly give you a thorough understanding of who your customer is and what it is that they want. At that point you can start to formulate ideas on how you will differentiate yourself in the market.
Check out this ad by De Beers, one of the most successful advertising campaigns ever. These words have been in every single De Beers ad for seventy years. Simple, but effective. The customer wants the marriage and the diamond to last forever.
3. KNOW YOUR MARKET
Know your terrain. Before you attempt to market and sell your product or service do some homework on the market that you will be making a living in. Perhaps its like a football player studying the field conditions, weather, the opponent, and crowd noise prior to a big game. Similarly, we have to understand the parameters we are operating within and how we are going to score. Learn the market size, potential value, consumer demand, market saturation and every other detail that you can get your hands on.
A thorough understanding and analysis of your market will equip you to make wise decisions about how to best promote and sell. The flip side benefit of this is you are also minimizing risk as a new startup. Your analysis of the market will enable you to come up with a smart strategy and gain a competitive advantage which will in turn make you profits.
If you read my article titled 7 Imperative Steps On How To Start a Business, you should have already completed your primary and secondary market research. https://easuccess.com/startup
Also, you should have completed a business plan with a summary of your market analysis information. Additionally, make sure that you have performed a break even analysis. It will help you formulate numbers for the TAM (Total available market) SAM (Serviceable available market and your TM (Target Market). Remember, a huge mistake that entrepreneurs commonly make is failing to calculate costs and profit margins prior to launching their product. That means you are likely on your way out of business. Figure out how much it’s going to cost you to launch your product. This involves knowing your customer acquisition costs, manufacturing costs and other costs of doing business.
4. KNOW YOUR COMPETITION
Learn everything you can about your top competitors. Simply put, your job is to reach more customers in your niche with your marketing message than your competition, and steal their market share. Many experts including Jeff Bezos the owner of Amazon agree that the best way to market your product is to focus on your customers and make the best product and experience for them possible. And to not be preoccupied with what other companies are doing. However you still need to know who you are competing for customers with and you can use that information to serve your customers better.
Go on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram and study their marketing campaigns. What is their brand? Who are they marketing to? What age, demographic and psychographic data (aspirations, opinions, activities and lifestyle) are they targeting, and at what price range? What is their unique value proposition, secret sauce, or winning position?
You want to make sure that you are not just another face in the crowd. Knowing your competition will enable you to tighten up your own brand messaging. Moreover, you will deliver a clear consistent marketing message and your customers will hear the message and stories from you that they want to hear. Last, you will be better at competitive selling. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”-Simon Sinek, Author and Marketing Consultant.
5. CREATE MARKETING GOALS
The easiest way to develop your marketing goals is to think about the end result that you desire, and work backwards. Then you can create smaller daily and weekly activities (tactics) to support those end goals. Last, you just prioritize those smaller tactics in order of importance and or time. Now you have a game plan and the outline of a marketing strategy. To get the wheels turning and get more specific ask yourself:
Who do I want to market to?
What do I want say?
What marketing “channels” or platforms should I use?
By creating marketing goals you are just stating in written form what you want to accomplish with the promotion and sales of your product or service, that’s it. Having a marketing strategy enables you to evaluate the relevance and importance of all the activities and choices that are thrown at you every day as a new business owner. When you have crystal clear business and marketing goals, it makes it easier to say yes or no to those activities in question by simply asking, “Does this contribute to our goals?“
Helpful Considerations When Creating Marketing Goals
Situational Analysis-Understand your current numbers and your current situation. If you fail to grasp your current sales, growth rates, website traffic and other metrics, you risk making your goals too difficult to attain or not high enough to challenge you. Understand and evaluate your starting point and set goals that are challenging but achievable.
No, Thor is not a new L’O’real spokes superhero, but this ad probably got your attention.
Brand Promise-Hopefully you have already identified your “winning position”as I like to refer to it. This is your secret sauce or unique value proposition. Now use that in your branding to show your customers how you are going to be the solution to their problem. . Branding is simply how your customers perceive you. Your brand is more than a logo or tag line. Those are simply visual descriptions of who you are and what you stand for. More so, it’s the unique and desirable traits of your product or service that resonate with your buyers.
“Give them quality. That’s the best kind of advertising.”-Milton Hershey, Founder of Hershey Chocolate Co.
What do you stand for and why are you different from other companies that do what you do? So get that messaging down on paper and of course create a logo and a tagline. (eg. “The best entrepreneur content simplified.”) More importantly, deliver on your brand promise consistently to your customers. They will be expecting it. Furthermore it’s an excellent way to build a strong brand. An example of not delivering on your brand promise is when you go to McDonald’s and they serve you cold soggy fries. Or if you go to Starbucks and they serve you coffee that tastes like it came from a Super 8 motel. Last, keep in mind that your branding needs to align with your top marketing goals.
Story Telling-Some of today’s leading marketing experts are recommending “story telling” as an effective way to create engagement and communicate your message to your customers. Take the recommended book for this article for example, Building a StoryBrand.
Everybody loves a good story. Something about them hits our emotional triggers and creates a bond or connection that is memorable.
Try telling stories in your marketing copy about what you are passionate about or why you are passionate about your product or service. This will resonate with your customers and make your brand memorable, which in turn will lead to sales.
Another idea is to tell stories about your customers. Customer success stories about what their life or business situation was like before you helped them with your product or service. What their experience as like with your company as well as what life is like after working with you.
Similarly, use stories to paint a picture of how your product or service can take your customers from point A to point B. What is the change that you are promising them? Use some imagination and describe what you are selling in a unique way that takes customers on a journey that they want to be on. Show them through story telling what they are getting with your company and they will relate to you instead of your competition.
Create a Budget-Calculate what you will spend on your marketing budget. Your marketing budget includes all expenses related to advertising, marketing, public relations, and promotion of your product or service. Examples are many but Google AdWords, Website costs and print media are a few.
Some companies will take a percentage of gross yearly profits and decide how much to allocate toward marketing. The US Small Business Administration says “Many businesses allocate a percentage of actual or projected gross revenues – usually between 2-3 percent for run-rate marketing and up to 3-5 percent for start-up marketing. But the allocation actually depends on several factors: the industry you’re in, the size of your business, and its growth stage. For example, during the early brand building years retail businesses spend much more than other businesses on marketing – up to 20 percent of sales.”
The US SBA goes on to say “As a general rule, small businesses with revenues less than $5 million should allocate 7-8 percent of their revenues to marketing. This budget should be split between 1) brand development costs (which includes all the channels you use to promote your brand such as your website, blogs, sales collateral, etc.), and 2) the costs of promoting your business(campaigns, advertising, events, etc.).”
Having said all that, remember what Seth Godin says. Marketing is not an expense, good marketers realize it’s an investment.
I thought this ad by Weight Watchers was an effective attempt at visual “storytelling.” A lighthearted but direct approach at showing what the product can do for you.
Advertising Agency: DraftFCB, Germany
Write Down Your Goals-Keep your marketing goals to 2-3 goals total. Especially if you are just launching or in your first couple years of business. Otherwise you risk overloading yourself and losing your focus. Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time bound. (SMART Goals). Also, your marketing goals are tied to and supportive of your top business goals and objectives. So make sure you have those in place first.
Common Marketing Goals
Build brand awareness.
Grow market share.
Launch new products or services.
Increase google search engine rankings
Target new customers.
Enter new markets internationally or locally.
Improve stakeholder relations.
Increase conversion rates on your website, webinars, email marketing or wherever you are selling.
Increase social media engagement rates.
Enhance customer relationships.
Increase followers on social media.
Increase website traffic.
Build an email marketing list.
Revisit and Track your ROI-Goals are useless if you don’t ever look at them or keep track of how they are working. Since you are new business owner you should learn that Return On Investment (ROI) is basically how much you are making back for your business from your investment. If we are talking dollars, it is usually expressed as a percentage or ratio ( ROI formula = Net Profit/Cost of Investment x 100. ) You should track your time and money related to your marketing campaigns and make decisions accordingly.
Again the US SBA says “Have a plan in place for measuring your spending and the impact that activities have on your bottom line. Compare tactics, analyze seasonal effects – was one quarter more profitable than another? Why? Above all, have patience and follow through on all your marketing efforts across the organization – it takes a village to build and grow a brand.
Some tactics are hard to measure, like the efficacy of print collateral, but you need to consider the impact of not having these branding staples in your tool kit before you reign in your graphic design and print funds.
Marketing plans should be maintained on an annual basis at a minimum, and revisited if you launch a new product/service, or if the market landscape changes.”
6. SELECT YOUR MARKETING CHANNELS
The article that I have researched, qualified and selected as the best to help us learn this topic of marketing channels comes from Foundr.com.
Article Source: Foundr.com, Foundr Magazine Jonathan Chan
How To Start A Business: A Complete Guide For Startup Entrepreneurs
Link to original artricle https://foundr.com/marketing-strategy/
In order to get the return on investment you want from your marketing strategy, it’s important to make deliberate, informed decisions about what channels provide the best ways to reach your target customers.
Remember, don’t invest effort into a particular channel just because you feel like you should be using it. It will take a little time and a bit of a feeling around in order to find the right marketing channel for you, so don’t stress if you don’t get it right from the get go.
The best approach to figuring out the right channels for your marketing strategy is to first break down all of your potential channels into three sections: owned, earned, and paid media.
It’s best to think of these three different types of media as three legs of a stool, with each type playing an important role in your digital marketing strategy, and all three needing to work together in order to cover all your marketing bases.
A good general rule of thumb is to follow the ratio of 2:1:1 when you’re starting off with your marketing strategy:
– 2 owned media channels
– 1 earned media channel
– 1 paid media channel
Owned media are the channels you have full control over, meaning your email list, your website, or your blog for example. In basic terms, any branded content that you produce yourself can be considered owned media.
The reason you want at least two channels of owned media in your marketing strategy is so you don’t ever need to rely on anyone else’s platform in order to promote your brand. Owned media should form the backbone of your digital marketing strategy.
This is why, at Foundr, we put a ton of effort into building our email list and growing our Instagram followers. These are channels we have complete control over, that reach our target audience, and generate us the majority of our leads and sales.
(Thank you to Foundr.com for this relevant information on marketing channels. )
7. CREATE MARKETING TACTICS
Implement the marketing strategy. Marketing tactics are the daily and weekly strategic activities that are implemented to support and achieve your primary business and marketing goals. This is turn leads to sales of your product or service.
Here are some common examples of marketing tactics:
Posting on instagram, Linkedin , facebook or other social media
Email marketing campaigns
Facebook ads or magazine ads
Improving search engine optimization of your content
Writing blog posts
Making cold calls in person or over the phone
Networking with Key Influencers
Creating a podcast
Creating YouTube videos
Co-Branding partnerships with other companies
Surveys, reports and white papers to educate your audience
Search engine optimization and website improvements
Pitching for media coverage
Reaching out to customers in person or through social media