A marketing plan can make or break a company’s efforts to grow. But I’ve found that many organizations don’t actually have a written, updated plan, so they’re more-or-less shooting from the hip. Marketing strategies are not easy to create. They can take a lot of time and there are conflicting views on what should be included (just Google “Marketing Plan Example”).
To make things easier we created a Marketing Strategy Checklist which provides an overview of the steps, tactics, and tools in a format that allows you to check off the items at your own pace. The checklist is divided into three phases: Foundation, Tactics, and Measurement. Here’s a quick summary of each phase:
Establish a Foundation
Before spending money and resources on marketing tactics, make sure you have a solid foundation in place: Prioritized goals, identified personas, established brand identity and positioning, and a thorough understanding of your market.
1. Prioritized Goals
The first step is to review and prioritize your business goals (i.e. generate more sales/revenue, add more customers, increase profitability, expand market share, etc.) and then identify which ones require marketing. Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T.— specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Prioritized goals give your marketing a clear focus, and help define your marketing budget.
2. Identify Personas
A persona is a detailed description of your ideal customer or target audience which helps focus your marketing. Each persona includes information about their needs, issues, goals, demographics, and phrases used in search engines. For more information about personas including examples, see our article How to Increase Awareness and Leads: Start with Personas and Positioning.
3. Strengthen Your Brand Identity and Positioning
Make sure your brand identity (logo, etc.) is professionally designed and differentiated. Positioning is what comes to mind when a prospect thinks of your company and includes benefits and what makes you unique. The answer to this question is the foundation of your positioning—“Why should a prospect choose you rather than a competitor?”
4. Conduct a Market Analysis
Make sure you have a good understanding of the industry, market size, segment, trends and target markets. A market analysis also includes:
- Situational analysis
- SWOT analysis
- The 4 Ps (pricing, product, promotion, and place)
Identify the right mix of tactics for each goal. Don’t spread yourself thin trying to implement too many tactics. It’s better to be consistent and focus on a few tactics, and do them well. Here’s a list of tactics to consider:
1. Create Content
Publish and share relevant and insightful content that helps your target personas meet their needs and solve their problems. Content marketing provides you an opportunity to showcase your expertise while building authority and trust. Content formats include blog posts, case studies, white papers, articles, summaries, videos, testimonials, and slide shares.
Tip: Make sure your content formats match where your prospects are in the buying process.
2. Website and Landing Pages
Stand out from the crowd with a well-designed site that is mobile-friendly, easy to navigate, and clearly states your key messages (including your brand positioning). Landing pages are focused on a specific product or service and help convert visitors to leads. For more information about effective landing pages, take a look at our article, Is Your Website Helping or Hurting Your Lead Generation Efforts?
3. Email Marketing
Email continues to be one of the most effective marketing tactics. It’s a great way to stay top of mind, target specific audiences and drive people to your website. Email helps you stay top of mind and helps you convert raw leads into qualified leads for your sales team. Email marketing platforms offer marketing automation features that will save you time.
4. Search Marketing (SEO/SEM)
Identify which keywords the target audiences are using and create corresponding content and landing pages for each keyword phrase. Keep pages updated and optimized so they will rank higher in the search engines which will lead to more traffic. Supplement hard-to-rank (competitive) keywords with Google Adwords.
5. Social Media
A solid social media strategy can help build brand awareness, drive more traffic to your site and enable one-to-one conversations that lead to more potential sales and higher customer satisfaction. The most popular business platform, LinkedIn is commonly underutilized, so spend some time and learn how to tap the power of this network. For more information on LinkedIn, see our article, How to Generate More Awareness and Leads Using LinkedIn
6. Video Marketing
Adding engaging video into your marketing campaigns build awareness, customer rapport and promotes your brand, services or products. Video is an excellent attention grabber and is easier to consume and retain than reading text. Consider replacing your text-based testimonials with video.
Webinars are live or recorded virtual online events that are educational and help to showcase your expertise and to build trust. They also offer your prospects the convenience to watch them on their own schedule and at their own pace. Analytics can be used to show you who is truly interested in your product or service by the amount of time they spent on the webinar. Webinar software enables the sharing of slides and interactive participation through chat and Q&A features.
8. Public Relations
PR can be used to enhance your company’s reputation through the media, social media, or self-produced communications. Good PR analyzes your company’s unique selling points and the market in order to communicate key messages and translate those messages into positive stories. There are very few marketing tactics that can be brought to bear when something bad happens (i.e. your company starts getting torched for quality, delivery or customer service shortfalls).
Other Tactics to Consider
- Print collateral such as brochures, catalogs, case studies, and articles help support your sales team and can be used as “leave-behinds”.
- Personalized direct mail can turn a cold lead into a warm lead. Personalization increases response rates.
- Trade shows are a good way to meet prospects and partners in your industry. It’s important to track leads and new customers against the cost of the show.
- Events such as lunch-and-learns, open houses and meet-ups can showcase your expertise to a targeted group of prospects and potential partners.
- Promotional items can be used by your sales team as leave-behinds and to keep your name in front of customers and prospects.
- Packaging is important not only because it’s usually the first thing that customers see, but because it provides an opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition. How many times have you purchased a product because you liked the packaging?
Tip: As you can see there is a myriad of marketing tactics available to us today, so it’s best to focus on a few tactics and do them well and consistently rather than trying to implement too many tactics which may strain your time, budget and resources.
All marketing tactics should be able to be measured in order to identify what worked, what didn’t, and where improvements can be made in order to produce a positive return on investment (ROI).
It’s important to know how users are interacting with your website content so that you can make the necessary adjustments to increase engagement and conversions. We use Google Analytics which allows us to view metrics such as:
- Number of visits
- Number of page views
- Most popular pages
- Bounce rate
- Average time on site
- Average pages viewed per visit
- Conversions (downloads, email sign-ups, form submissions)
It’s a good idea to view your analytics at least once per month. Using the information, you can assess if your website content is engaging and effective. If users are leaving your site without converting, then most likely you need to enhance content and/or design.
To make your job easier and more efficient, consider using web-based marketing software like Hubspot, Marketo or InfusionSoft. These platforms not only centralize your online (digital) marketing activities, they also include robust analytics and reports to help you measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.
Customer relationship management software, which integrates with your marketing software, helps you manage contacts, nurture leads, and engage with existing customers. Your CRM also provides insights into a variety of metrics such as sales trends, marketing campaigns, activity reports, and team performance.
As you can see, there are several factors to consider when creating or updating a marketing plan, but hopefully, this checklist makes things easier for you.
If you have any questions or to schedule a free marketing strategy review, please contact me.