One of the fundamental tools for marketeers is a marketing strategy. As well as helping establish your department’s plan of action and key measurables, it can act as a powerful internal document to help ensure that senior leaders understand the focus of the marketing team, and where they may have to play their part. Emma Cooper, our Director, explains how to approach your own marketing strategy.
Creating your marketing strategy is an important step. It gives you the opportunity to plot your course, based on your organisation’s overall aims. And in these circumstances a certain amount of navel gazing can be useful! Plan ahead, give yourself time, involve those you need to – but try to avoid decision by committee or you could find yourself in a rather lengthy process.
How often should you write or update your marketing strategy?
There’s no hard and fast rule on when your marketing strategy should be written but for most organisations it’s useful to take a look at an overall plan each year in line with the start of your company or calendar year and review things quarterly. What’s critical for a marketing strategy is a clear goal from your organisation as to what the business is aiming to achieve over the next year or longer. You can then design your strategy based on those over-arching strategic business ambitions.
What to include in your marketing strategy
There are a number of key areas which it makes sense to work through in your marketing strategy. These include:
- Identity – start your plan with a confirmation of the purpose and vision of the business, taking into account your core values and the sector you work in.
- Competitive review – think about your place in the market and any trends and challenges which currently affect both the sector and you as an organisation. It’s useful to have a sense of self-awareness – what are the key issues which affect you, and which you need to address, or which you are unable to change?
- Key differentiators – what is it that your organisation does which sets it apart from others in the sector? You might find it useful to think about the 4P’s of the marketing mix here: product, place, price, and promotion.
- Audience – have a think about who you are talking to and how you can meet their needs. Don’t forget this is not just about your customers or clients – you’ll need to consider all of your stakeholders including staff, shareholders and your local community, amongst others.
- Targets – a marketing strategy should be built around any core targets. How are you determining your department’s growth and success based on these? Consider your key goal, whether it be brand awareness, number of leads secured or something else. There may also be some softer targets that require focus and dedicated messaging e.g. moving to a greener way of working, B Corp status or internal organisational development.
Make it measurable
Marketing has traditionally been seen as a cost centre. Creating measurable targets, on which your impact can be assessed, is a very important element of any strategic plan. As you begin to set your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) it can be useful to work through the following areas. There are lots of KPIs can you decide upon but these are a good place to start!
- Customer base – is there a particular demographic or market segment you want to target?
- Leads – what number are you aiming for over a year or quarter? How does this relate to last year? Don’t forget to determine how you categorise a prospect or suspect
- Current sales – what’s the bottom line and by what percentage are you expected to help grow that figure?
- Web traffic – are you looking to grow your visitors? Reduce your bounce rate? Or increase the length of time people spend on the site?
- Social media – what proportion of followers are you looking to increase by? What engagement are you looking to achieve?
Keep it relevant
Keep in mind that a marketing strategy is a high level document explaining your focus and the reasons why you are embarking on a particularly course of action. Once your marketing strategy has been agreed by the Board you’ll then need to translate it into a more detailed plan – perhaps with key actions to be managed each month or each quarter so that you and your team can have more of an operational schedule to follow to deliver your strategy.
Give yourself time
Developing a marketing strategy is a very worthwhile process, but it’s important not to underestimate the work involved. Challenging your own thinking, and that of the leadership is an important step, and it will be vital to question your approach, understand your organisation’s aims and check everyone is on the same page to make certain that your strategy is effective. So be collaborative, work closely with Board and other departments and create a strategy which can help you all deliver success.
It can be useful to consider using a consultant or external support to help plan your marketing strategy. To discuss your own plans please get in touch.