“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future”
-John F. Kennedy
With a new year, we get crazy ideas of what is right and wrong when it comes to a business’ marketing strategy. The truth is, you are the only one who knows your business to the core - the one who knows all the good and bad and ambiguous things about the current strategy for your business.
When we talk about this “marketing strategy,” we think it is a very difficult, complex thing to sit and develop a plan for an entire year. But we will let you in on a little secret: an effective marketing strategy doesn’t have to be long or arduous to create. Above all else, the most effective strategy is the one that you complete and stick to.
How do you create an ideal marketing strategy? We’re glad you asked!
Here are 5 simple steps to get you started:
1. Try to understand EXACTLY what your business does. This sounds simple, but it’s the most vital step in creating an effective marketing strategy or campaign. You may be a coffee shop but what makes you different from every other coffee shop? What makes you different from, say, Starbucks? Your answer may be something like this:
We travel the world looking for that single-origin, specialty coffee to bring the customer a new experience with the highest quality cup of coffee. We offer coffees from Brazil, Honduras, Columbia, and Ethiopia and we work directly with the producers. We are certified coffee roasters and all of our baristas are certified to bring you a cup of coffee that will change your life every day.
2. Set a marketing goal for your business. The fact is, if you don’t know what you’re driving toward, you’ll quickly lose traction and cohesion in your strategy. We all want to increase our sales, but what do you expect your marketing strategy to deliver?
Do you want to engage with more people? Do you want to create more repeat business? Do you want more people to know your business statement or company values? What about your business partners? Once you have a marketing goal set, the rest of the strategy should feed that ultimate goal.
3. Crunch the numbers. That’s right - it’s time to set your marketing budget. This is a very important step, as you will need to be specific. This will dictate not only what resources you will use, but how to make the best of them. Can’t come up with a number for the whole year? NO PROBLEM - focus on a shorter period of time. Set a budget for a quarter, a month, a week. Whatever works best for your planning.
4. Focus your spending. There are a number of ways you can spend the money you’ve set aside for marketing. While you don’t need to invest equal amounts in all areas, it’s important to understand that some investment should be planned for each of these categories
Web Page - It may seem like it’s not “that necessary,” but this gives your company credibility. Your business web page tells more about your business to the world - it’s the first impression online for your business and will show not only your customers but your future business partners and investors, that they can and should trust you.
Social Media - In today’s business world, social media is a MUST for every business. Chances are your competition is on social media. Your customers are on social media. YOU should be on social media. Whether it’s a simple profile or a robust media plan and targeted advertising, Facebook is a necessity for any business. Other platforms may also fit your business, like Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, and YouTube. Where your web page gives you credibility, your social media presence gives you a personality - a voice.
Influencers - If you are new as a marketer or new as a business owner, this may seem a bit overrated. The truth is, working with influencers will build your brand awareness, recognition, and favorability more than a spokesperson. Influencers are known for sharing the truth - and are focused on bringing their followers their honest opinion - which is more favorable than a spokesperson who is paid for their endorsement. You can find all kinds of influencers that would be happy to review your business and products - and there are as many influencers as there are segments in business. Look around you - who are your followers following on social media? What are your ideal customers interested in? Are there natural pairings for your products (like our coffee example and a bakery). These people may be natural influencers to grow your customer base and build credibility.
Activities - This is about engagement. Offering opportunities for your customers and business partners to have more interactions with you is key in this marketing investment. Whether it’s teaching customers how to change a tire or check their own oil or creating events for them to attend and experience your products with other products (like tasting events or coffee and food pairings events), the idea is to offer unique activities to set you apart. This will allow you to connect, create buzz and discussion around your product, and create loyalty with your customers.
5. Analyze Your Results. At this point, we’ve set a goal, created a budget, and focused our spending. Now it’s important to understand what’s working and not working. If your goal is to create new customers, did you have new customers visiting your business? If your goal was to create more loyalty, did your customers come back time and again based on your marketing strategy? Did you create more followers and fans on your social media profile? If we don’t look back, we’ll never know if our investment is working. Look back every 2-3 months to check those goals - and tweak your plan, if needed.
Feeling overwhelmed by creating a marketing strategy for the year? It can feel overwhelming and time-consuming - we know! When in doubt, you can always bring in marketing experts to help craft a strategy and implement the pieces so you can spend more time doing other activities to grow your business. We at CIS Agency would love to help - email, call, or reach out to us on Facebook anytime!