integrated digital marketing agency

Steps To Plan a Complete Marketing Strategy

Today’s business landscape is evolving dynamically, and whether you are a small business owner or part of a larger team, flourishing in this space can be an exciting challenge. While several factors come into play, one crucial aspect of thriving in this new landscape is bridging the gap between your products/services and customers. And it is here that a robust marketing strategy makes all the difference.

To help you close this gap and, in turn, succeed in this competitive business space, we have put together a step-by-step guide that will help you create an effective marketing strategy. But first, let’s get the fundamentals right. 

What is a marketing strategy

A marketing strategy is a structured long-term plan of action that entails the collaboration of promotional efforts across multiple platforms/channels and promotes the business in a given market to increase sales, gain a competitive advantage, help customers understand the value of the product/service and improve the bottom line of the business.

Without a well-rounded, defined marketing strategy, you will be playing darts in the dark, costing you your time, money and resources. 

We have put forth seven key steps that describe how to create a marketing strategy.

Step 1: Build a marketing plan

Yes, a marketing plan is very different from a marketing strategy, although both play a crucial part in your business’s success. A marketing plan includes concrete, actionable steps for undertaking a marketing campaign. It is typically a short-term vessel for campaign-level tactics that support your overall strategy. The marketing strategy is a blueprint that forms the DNA of your marketing plan.

However, before building a marketing plan, it is essential to outline your marketing mix

What does marketing mix mean?

The marketing mix refers to the 4 Ps: Product, Price, Place and Promotion, which helps businesses understand what they will be marketing and where and how they will be marketing it. You can then expand this information into a full-fledged marketing plan. However, don’t forget to outline your marketing mix in broad strokes to align with the overall direction of your marketing strategy. 

Step 2: Create buyer personas

Next is creating buyer personas. This step is important as it will help you create content personalized to different target groups to resonate with them. 

Your buyer personas have vital demographic (age, gender, education, location, and profession) and psychographic (personality traits, beliefs, and values) information. It also includes lifestyle traits (hobbies and interests or entertainment preferences) and behavior (brand loyalty, channel preferences, and other shopping habits, needs and challenges. Long story short, it is a picture of your ideal customer.

Here, market segmentation and targeting are integral to understanding your audiences’ preferences, pain points and consumption patterns. Market segmentation will help you pinpoint key characteristics that will split your larger audience into separate segments based on demographics and psychographics. Meanwhile, identifying your target markets – from those who have never heard of your brand to your existing repeat customers – will let you focus on the right audiences. 

You can define which customer segments:

  • would potentially bring higher profits
  • have a longer life cycle
  • be more compelled by your product

and target them.

Step 3: Establish a brand identity

Create a clear and distinct brand identity in conjunction with the previous step or right after. It involves defining your brand’s mission, vision, and value proposition and crafting a consistent visual identity, including logos, color palettes, and typography.

Market positioning is the backbone of this step. Market positioning is how you want your target market to perceive your brand compared to your competitors. It will not only help position your brand as the solution to your customer’s needs but also help you  build a consistent brand identity that resonates with your target audience.

Creating a strong brand identity across both online and offline channels will help increase brand recall, resonate with your customer and set the tone for your marketing efforts. You must also craft brand guidelines which cover logo usage and other visual aspects alongside tone of voice and imagery style to ensure that all marketing materials maintain a cohesive look and feel and align with your brand’s identity. This consistency can help you create a memorable impression in the minds of consumers and stand out from competitors.

Step 4: Identify your goals

Your marketing goals reflect your business goals. So, if you haven’t already, define your business goals before you start mapping your marketing goals. 

Marketing goals are wide-ranging. Here are a few examples of marketing goals:

  • increasing brand awareness
  • generating high-quality leads
  • growing and maintaining thought leadership in the industry 
  • or increasing customer value. 

But whatever the goal, ensure they are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) to drive a greater impact. Remember, you can always revise your goals as your priorities change.

Step 5: Creating your marketing content

It is crucial to undertake this step strategically because 1) you don’t want to publish content randomly, and 2) you will want to capitalize on emerging trends for higher visibility. And while you’re at it, ask yourself – Are you launching a new product/service? You can then leverage the following two types of marketing content strategies depending on how your customers respond to them:

  1. Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing has a “pull power” and creates reasons for the potential customer to come “inbound” to you. This entails value-laden content, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media and lead-generation strategies.

  • Website Design, SEO & Blogging

Before you use inbound strategies, ensure that you have a well-designed website with the right elements. An effective marketing strategy revolves around your website. It’s where you can nurture your bottom-of-the-funnel leads for more conversions. So, your website should be visually appealing and provide a seamless user experience to visitors. 

To make your website a powerful marketing tool, use inbound strategies like populating it with engaging blog content and optimizing it for search engines. 

Yes, blogging is still very much relevant despite the content overload on the Internet. It helps build brand awareness and bring value through relevant knowledge about your business and products/services. Blogging attracts more traffic and turns that traffic into customers. However, it is only effective with the right SEO strategy.

A robust SEO strategy can significantly increase the chances of your website appearing on the first page to be discovered by potential customers. You can improve its ranking and attract organic traffic by conducting keyword and topic research and optimizing the meta tags, website and content with relevant keywords. If you need expert SEO solutions, then Pop Communications can help you create an SEO and content strategy tailor-made for your business.

  • Emerging Inbound marketing trends 

You have to be where your customers are. And in the digital age, everybody is online. So, having a robust online presence is important to meet your target audience where they interact. Some emerging high-ROI trends you can include in your strategy are social media marketing and short-form videos. 

Social media marketing is all about ensuring that your target market interacts with your brand online. But your strategy will differ based on the social networks where your audience spends most of their time. Is it Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter (or Musk’s rechristened X), LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest or a combination of these?

To read actionable tips for Facebook marketing,
click here.

Meanwhile, the growth of short-form platforms like TikTok, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts is causing attention spans to become shorter. Attention is the new currency, and leveraging bite-sized short-form videos will ensure your audience “spends” theirs on you. Short-form videos are quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of social media content for lead generation and engagement. In fact, 96% of consumers prefer watching short-form videos to learn about a product/service. You can use short-form video trends like brand challenges, product teasers, user-generated content (UGC), and explainer or educational videos in your strategy.

Pro-tip: When creating your promotional strategy, don’t dilute content marketing to just blogs and reels. Be creative and leverage not just blog posts and articles but also infographics, videos or podcasts to attract your target audience and make them keep coming back for more.

To know more about the 10 best AI tools for content marketing, click here.

  1. Outbound marketing

This is where you reach out to your (potential) customers to attract them to your brand. It is usually done through traditional channels like cold calls or email marketing. Other (paid) routes in the digital era include digital advertising or influencer marketing and gifting.

  • Influencer marketing 

Collaborate with online influencers resonating with your brand’s niche to market your products or services as part of your outreach content strategy. They lend a more authentic voice to your brand’s story and can improve brand recognition amongst their highly engaged audience (who coincide with your target audience). You can also leverage short-form videos for outbound marketing via influencer ads. 

  • Digital advertising

Digital advertising primarily aims at generating leads or sales while also showcasing and promoting your company, brand, products or services online – but through paid channels. You can activate digital ads across social media platforms, search engines, websites, emails or podcasts.  

Step 6: Choose your sales and distribution channels

If you are creating a go-to-market strategy (GTM) to launch a new product or service to the market, you will also have to develop a concrete sales and distribution strategy besides the above steps.

There exist several types of marketing strategies like affiliate marketing, direct marketing, guerilla marketing, etc. A good GTM strategy is specially designed to mitigate the risks inherent to entering a new marketplace or launching a new product or service. To ensure that your product enters the market with the best possible chance of success, developing robust sales and distribution channels is essential. 

Whether you are creating a GTM strategy and thinking about your sales and distribution channels or just about your content publication channels – consider where your target market shops. Whether you decide to sell your product in-person or online, D2C or to a wholesaler, depends on this as well as your product’s unique needs. Take your pick, but keep in mind that the buyer’s journey should be seamless to reduce friction and increase sales. Allocate budgets to different touch points as per your sales funnel.

Step 7: Set metrics and monitor your performance

The success of your marketing strategy depends on achieving your goals. Make sure you have the right tools and metrics to measure your success. It is also important to keep track of your metrics and make any necessary adjustments as you go along. Apart from Return on Investment (ROI), key metrics you should track are:

  • SEO metrics like website visitors, bounce rate, page views, top queries by click, first-page keyword rankings
  • Engagement metrics on social media like likes and comments, number of subscribers, impressions, amount of content shared 
  • Paid marketing metrics including conversion rate and click-through rate (CTR)

A successful marketing strategy doesn’t lean towards any one tactic but is a healthy mix of what works, depending on your target audience and industry. You may need to adjust this mix for optimal results. Moreover, knowing where to allot the most resources, especially with a limited budget, is important when creating your strategy.

If your business needs support in building a marketing strategy from the ground up and executing it, Pop Communications can be your one-stop integrated marketing agency. You can reach us at [email protected] or call +1 647 846 6601.

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