As a business owner, investor, or marketing specialist you’ve probably heard at one point or another, “What’s our marketing strategy?”. Sometimes the follow up to that might be, “We’re going to do a giveaway to build interest and customer base.” or, “Let’s do 30% off to increase sales.” or, “We’ll boost posts on Facebook and Instagram to get as many eyes on our products as possible.” While these ideas might sound familiar, are they a true marketing strategy, or are they just tactics that someone randomly thought of that might sound like a good idea? And if there’s a little more meat to them, how can you be sure that it’s going to work?
At SLTC we can never stress enough to our clients or even prospective clients the importance of why you should clearly define the following 6 things in order to make for a clear, successful marketing strategy that will work for your unique business needs.
So stick with us, because this is gonna be good.
1. Define Your Goals
Hmm, goals. That could mean so many things for a business, right? The important thing to remember about defining your goals is to make them SMART.
Specific - Clear, not ambiguous
Measurable - Is it trackable? How?
Attainable - Is this too easy, or too big, hairy, and audacious?
Relevant - Does this make sense for your industry? Would people care?
Time-bound - When do you want to achieve this goal by?
For those of you who like a little plug-and-play, use this mad-lib we put together to make your goals SMART.
Increase __[metric you want to impact]__ by _[insert % change or number]_ by _[insert time frame] __.
Increase email subscribers by 15% by 2nd quarter. Increase winter collection sales by 100 orders placed by end of month.
Consistently decrease average website bounce rate to 45% by June 2021 for 3 consecutive months.
Now, based on your knowledge of the industry, your products or services, and what you know your business can handle, you’ll have to make educational guesses on whether or not, these are attainable or relevant. For example, if your goal is to increase winter collection sales by 100 orders placed by the end of month - and there are only 3 days left of the month… is that really attainable??? Most might say, that’s a hard sell - pun intended.
If you’re starting fresh and don’t have any history to run off of, that’s okay. You can start small and build and adjust as you learn. That, people, is what we call the nature of a start-up. Enjoy 😏
So, go ahead. Take a few minutes to put your SMART goal together. And yes, it’s okay to have more than one.
Okay, when you’re ready, number 2.
2. Know Who Your Competitors Are and Who’s Not
Competitors can be super insightful. Therefore you should prey on their every move. Alright, well maybe not stalk them but you should perform a small audit of your own. Get to know what they sell, what channels they use to communicate with people, what they are really good at, and what they aren’t so great at. Then, put together a SWOT analysis.
What is SWOT?
Strength - What are they aces at? Is there something they absolutely dominate in?
Weaknesses - Where do they do or don’t do that would make you turn away as a potential customer?
Opportunities - Take what they are terrible at and make it a chance for you to steal the spotlight.
Threats - If they are aces at something or have way more money to put towards resources, make note of it and keep watch.
For example, say we were a veterinarian office and our specialty was on farm animals (cows, chickens, horses). Our SWOT with a regular veterinarian office that takes it all types of animals might be something like this…
Strength - Takes in all types of animals, including the ones we specialize in, and has a 91% success rate in treatment.
Weaknesses - Their emergency wait time can be hours long, and their appointments are almost always a week out for weekdays and almost 3 weeks out for rare weekend appointment scheduling.
Opportunities - Our successful treatment rates are 93% and our vet appointments can be scheduled for same-day, and we can perform house calls for a highly specialized and personalized service.
Threats - Our practice is young and only known among a small local group, while theirs is part of a larger conglomerate that is well-established and has been nationally recognized for decades.
Easy enough, right? Now you might recall, we said to know who your competitors are and who’s not, yeah? So what do we mean by those who are not? More often than not, we have prospects come to us and tell us that someone is a competitor of their company, so when we do our research and see who this competitor is, we think to ourselves - No wayyyyy. This is aspirational!
It’s okay to have companies you look up to! That’s what aspirational companies are for. The best part is they don’t have to be a part of your industry, say you’re in a hotel but you aspire to be similar to a clothing company in your overall voice and content strategy. They’d only be a true competitor if they were selling something very similar if not the same as you are.
Alright, on to number 3.
3. Who Are You Trying to Reach? Who’s Your Customer?
Based on what you are selling, this might be easily defined. A high-end bridal shop might cater mostly to women in their 20’s and 30’s within a certain house-hold income. An aftermarket car parts & accessories store might focus their marketing efforts towards men in their mid-teens to late 20’s that have recently shown interest in certain types of cars. But not all of you will have such an easy road in defining these individuals.
Think of your ideal customer a little more deeply than the basic demographic like gender and age. Think about what your product or service will do for them. Ask yourself questions like:
What does my product or service solve for this person?
Why would this person choose my product or service over someone else’s?
How does this person find a product or service like mine?
These types of questions can help you start to empathize with your customer making for a deeper connection when you develop your brand and marketing message; more importantly, it’ll help you determine number 4.
4. What’s Your Unique Value Proposition
Your UVP, or Unique Value Proposition. This is your “purple cow”. It’s what makes you different from your competitors. It can be about your exceptional customer service or the quality of your products that are unique to what other competitor products are made of. It’s whatever makes you out beat everyone else and it should resonate well with your target market (a.k.a your customer personas). Brands that can deepen their connection with customers beyond the basic demographics have a one up on those who don’t.
5. Define Where’s The Best Place to Communicate to Your Customers
Now that you’ve done your research, how are you going to market your business to the right people? B2B leads will on different channels than B2C leads. Younger demos will be on different channels than older ones. Fashion-forward individuals will be in places that gaming enthusiasts may not be. By learning as much as you can about your audience/target market, you’ll then best be able to determine which channels to use in order to find more of the audience you want and how to stay top of mind to bring back returning customers.
Think of it this way, there are 3 different types of media that you can tap into - owned, earned, and paid. Having a healthy mix of these 3 can help evenly distribute your marketing efforts across channels that would be best suited not only to reach your target but also your budget.
Owned media for example are channels you own like your website, your blog, and your email subscriber list.
Earned media are things like reviews, testimonials, awards, press, social shares, comments, likes, and SEO.
Paid media buckets channels like social ads, Google ads, magazine ads, out-of-home efforts (billboards, flyers, the like), and radio or TV commercials.
Depending on how aggressive you’ll want to make your strategy and how much budget you have in place will determine which channels you’ll want to focus on. Owned media tends to be highly cost-effective and clearly showcases your brand and voice. Earned media is also cost-effective and a way to organically show up based on people searching for a product or service, however, time must be invested in it to get the results you want. Paid media on the other hand is known often as performance marketing. This is because you’ll see results fairly quickly after a month to 3-month ramp-up period.
That should go without saying that every channel is worth testing. Therefore prioritize what you think will do best based on your research and go from there.
6. Define Your Budget
Your budget plays an important role in your marketing strategy. Without a clear budget, it’ll be difficult to prioritize which channels you’ll need to focus on. So for instance, if you know your audience is mostly on Facebook and Instagram but you want to target new audiences through Social Media Influencers and Google Searches, and only have a budget of $2000 per month for just ad spend, then you might want to consider investing on Facebook and Google first, then once you’re happy with your results, add in Instagram, then Influencer marketing.
Generally, we always recommend a marketing budget that’s 20% of your total annual revenue. If you don’t know what that number is, start with $1,000 per channel you plan to test and work your way up. Also, don’t be afraid to invest in a good marketing agency that will share their ideology behind the marketing strategy they develop for you. Make sure they are willing to educate you on their process so they aren’t talking over you with reports and numbers but rather talking with you on what it all means and what the next steps will be to move forward as a team and as a company.
At SLT Consulting, we come from educational backgrounds and have over 200 years of combined marketing experience in Google, Ecommerce, Social Media, and Email Marketing. Check out our services or contact us to talk through how we can help you reach your unique business goals.