Planning, strategy and execution — your marketing roadmap.
Effective marketing will deliver measurable ROI with smart planning, analysis and optimization.
We’re all familiar with marketing and its various activities, options and channels involved — all for the express purpose of gaining the attention of your target audience, creating awareness, driving traffic and ultimately, boosting activity.
Marketing execution without strategy however, is not smart. Marketing strategy makes your marketing better — driving efficacy and a far higher return on your marketing spend. After all, that’s the point. You want your marketing spend to pay you high quality dividends in the form of more sales and ultimately, more profit. Or, perhaps you are marketing for better candidates or new business partnerships, etc. — the goals for marketing messages are endless. But we need the right strategy in order to ensure any marketing will be effective, specifically for the goal at hand.
Effective planning, followed by tactical execution, helps drive the exact traffic you are seeking, precisely when you are looking for it — whether that traffic is new leads, repeat customers, brand advocates, potential partnerships or candidates to employ.
Some very basic steps to create your marketing strategy followed by marketing execution and measurement, are outlined below.
1. Identify your business goals.
What specific business outcomes are you seeking from your marketing efforts? Defining the goal is a vital input to the research that will be performed to help outline your marketing strategy.
2. Document your customer personas and target messaging.
These are very important elements — who are you marketing to (your audience) and what is the message (your copy and content) that you want to communicate to them? These are vital to inform the research. The research will focus on the profile of your targets, how to speak to them and where to effectively find them.
3. Conduct the research.
Combining your business goals together with the who (audience) and what (message) is where the research starts. This is the most time intensive part of building your strategy, but it’s also the most important part. You may include specific research on your competitive set here as well.
The research results help inform us on how best to combine the business goals, the targets and helps to identify the types of communications that will be most successful. The output of the research yields critical insights which then form the basis of the strategic marketing approach.
4. Build the marketing plan frame/format.
This is a practical framework to help you to first, organize the research, and later to execute and monitor your plan. Your marketing plan should include objectives, findings and insights together with budget and timeframe and channel options that will be finalized throughout the balance of the planning process.
5. Identify the mix of media options, matched to your audience and messages.
The output of the research will consider multiple kinds of media options which should work together for maximum impact. Note, you’ll want to leverage as much earned, shared and owned media as possible to help drive up marketing ROI and more generally, to effectively support your paid media efforts.
Paid media is any channel you pay for in order to advertise your brand and your offer to a specific audience (print, digital, radio, TV, etc.).
With paid media options, the marketing strategy research will be matched against paid media channel options’s identified target audience and the associated demographics and include details by industry/category, reach for readership/members/followers, expected engagement rates, various ad format options, available inventory and costs.
Earned media is content others create or share about your business and brand. Earned media includes free placements from media relations campaigns, press releases, bylined articles, newsjacked placements, investor relations pieces, blogger relations and link building, plus word of mouth.
Shared media includes organic social media content built for and posted as curated content, reviews, forums and from other online communities.
Owned media refers to organic content you create and utilize on controlled channels including wholly-owned content like articles, blog posts, podcasts, videos, ebooks and other visual content.
6. Finalize your budget, marketing calendar and design each campaign.
Once you know the who, what and where results of your strategic research, coupled with the when and how options of your media selections, you can begin to build your planned marketing calendar along with your budget and the associated campaign designs — verbal messaging and supporting design and images/assets — that will be used for each media channel.
7. Execute your marketing plan.
It’s time to operationalize your plan — this is where you place your insertion orders and prepare all marketing assets for each selected channel. If you are using website landing pages to support your campaigns (highly recommended), be sure those are completed and ‘live’.
It is important to audit each channel to ensure that your marketing is (a) appearing when and where it should, and (b) each media outlet has gotten all the details correct based on what you supplied them and also what you signed up and paid for. In all cases, you want to know what others are seeing in your ads and campaigns and you can correct any issues immediately.
8. Measure the results.
This step is critical. The point of creating your strategic plan was to plan for the highest quality spend to reach your audience with your message, successfully. Now, with data and results, you can perform the analysis to ensure that the plan was effective and that your marketing is driving results. These results will best inform refinements and future marketing plans.
9. Refine and optimize your marketing plans forward, to maximize ROI.
You may find your planning for one marketing message and approach is highly effective for say, boosting sales, and another approach wins every time when you are seeking new business partnerships, for example. The results should be documented and thus will help guide your team forward to optimize future marketing spend and garner effective results for all types of communication purposes.
Marketing is not one size fits all. For maximum ROI, you need to analyze the results and do more of what works well and less of what doesn't.
An effective marketing strategy is a highly intentional approach, informed by research and the resulting insights, documenting the needs of your audience together with the most effective messaging and channel options to create a distinct competitive advantage.
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