Before you can even think of creating a marketing strategy, you MUST have a corporate strategy. These are sequential in the design process. Why? If you create your marketing approach without your corporate direction, you could make a lot of mistakes and waste a lot of marketing dollars chasing targets that are not what the company wants.
So, let’s assume that you have a corporate strategy and are asked to create the marketing strategy. Depending on the size of your company, the marketing strategy might change per business unit. Assuming that you are a startup or smaller company, one marketing strategy is most likely sufficient.
Key components of a marketing strategy
Obviously, a marketing strategy will be different from industry to industry so I cannot be too specific about one industry in a general blog post. However, keeping in mind your industry specific needs, the following components must be included in any marketing strategy.
- Alignment with the corporate strategy and goals. You must show how your plans will align with the overall organization and its desired path. For example, if the company has decided to focus on being the best within a niche market, that gives you very specific marketing targets and buyers. However, if your company’s goals are broader, then you have more complexity to acquire your targets.
- Name it. I’ve always found that a good and catchy name for our ‘big hairy audacious goals’ work. They get the team rallied around and it allows you to make it fun, too.
- Define your risks and challenges. Your strategy should stretch your team(s) and the goals should not be too easy to achieve. On the other hand, they should be attainable. If you limit your strategy to your marketing team or expand it to cross-functional participants, make sure they are growing along with your company. The risks should be written and communicated to all involved. There is no need to hide them; be upfront and create risk mitigation plans.
- Update your presence. Does your tagline, logo or website need an update to match where you are going? You should always look like you’ve achieved your goal. People who meet you or visit you online will make judgments based upon the look and feel of your brand. If it looks old or dated, they may turn away even though your strategy is modern.
- SEO, SEO, SEO. If you are changing your strategy, you’ll need to need to conduct new SEO analysis and update the keywords for which you want to rank. SEO analysis MUST be done with your strategy and not done as part of execution or as an after-thought.
- Prioritize. You can’t do everything. It is your responsibility to give your team priorities. Define what the number one goal is to achieve and, if possible, prioritize the other goals. If you communicate this to your team effectively, they’ll understand and make better decisions to meet that goal. If you don’t have a good project manager, get one to stay on track.
- Roles and Resources. This is always one of the most difficult considerations because marketing teams are typically constrained by the number of hands they employ. I suggest that you turn this around to think about what you need rather than how many people you have. Once you focus on work, you can consider how to take the budget you have and extend it. Consider outsourcing to extend your dollars and getting more done. In your strategy, you should define roles and responsibilities that you have and/or need to meet your goals.
- Use an editorial calendar. There is a reason that newspapers and magazines created the editorial calendar – it makes you think about integrating your marketing. Each campaign and channel should be interconnected. Social media channels can showcase different communities of interest and communicate in the manner that they like, however, by integrating what you are communicating at a higher level, you can ensure that it is aligned with your overall strategy.
- Budget. You have to map out a budget for your strategy and plan what you can get accomplished with the dollars that you have. There is nothing more aggravating to a CEO than receiving an exciting marketing strategy that the organization can’t pay for. Don’t be that CMO!
- Buyer Persona. Who is your buyer? This sometimes changes over time as your organization launches new products or services. The more specific you can be about your buyer, you can design marketing approaches to touch them. This will also allow you to be more cost effective with the budget that you have because you won’t waste campaigns that don’t produce the exact results you want.
- Data. This is another area that must be refreshed continually. Marketing produces a plethora of data, but information is what is valuable. Based on your strategy, what key performance metrics are critical? Update your dashboard to ensure that you are receiving these on a real-time basis. And don’t get enamored by campaigns with lots of clicks that don’t move the needle on your goals.
- Expand your brand ambassadors. Once your strategy is complete and approved, communicate it and train your organization to support your team. Don’t put it on a shelf or tell only your marketeers. Let the product development team and the customer service team know the plan. Make your relationship with sales even better by bringing them very close to your plans and keep communication open. If your brand management has been updated, train the company on a new elevator pitch or tagline. They are also your brand ambassadors and need to be kept in the loop.
- Finally, think differently. This might entail that you physically work on the strategy in a different location than your normal office. You have to find a way to clear your mind from the day to day execution to reconsider how to create value to match your organization’s strategy. I’ve always found that the week between Christmas and New Year’s when the office is closed is a perfect time to step back and strategize.
Keep these key points in mind when you create your marketing strategy and you’ll have a good foundation. Remember to separate strategy from execution. The execution of the strategy is a separate plan! Although they are integrated, you must start at the top level and then work down. If you want help creating your marketing strategy, book an appointment with Sandra to get started on the right path.
You may like to take my online course, Applied Marketing Strategy and Decision Making Tools on Udemy.