Successful Marketing Starts With A Strategy

Marketing and sales professionals share a unique characteristic to their jobs—at the beginning of each year there are virtually a limitless number of possibilities in front of them that could increase customer awareness and potentially drive sales. So how do savvy marketers process the mountain of opportunities to select which ones best drive sales objectives and make sense within their budgets? In a word—strategy.

As much as the marketing landscape has changed, there is one thing that remains the same: the importance of an overall marketing strategy. You may have the best product in the world or the most stellar service, but without effective marketing strategies, no one will know. Let’s face it, you can send out more tweets than a bird sanctuary; you can post, blog and produce award-winning videos, and still not achieve the results you want, which are typically better ROI, higher sales and business growth. Even the most fabulous trade show or webinar is meaningless if it doesn’t reach the right targets at the right time, and there are no means to follow up with prospects. The truth is, without an overall plan, it’s highly unlikely that you are optimizing your resources. It’s a bit like shooting a bunch of arrows into the sky and hoping they hit the right targets—without injuring or annoying anyone in the process.

Creating a Strategy
It may sound old school, but a good overall marketing strategy begins with the basics. Remember the “four P’s” or marketing mix—product, price, placement and promotion? Today, some would add the importance of a fifth “P”—positioning. These are still relevant, because you can’t market what you don’t fully understand.

Though marketing plans can differ greatly from company to company, they generally include the following elements:

  1. Executive Summary.
  2. Business Description.
  3. Company Vision or Mission Statement.
  4. SWOT or SCOPE Analysis.
  5. Company Goals
  6. Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)
  7. Environmental Analysis
  8. Marketing Objectives and Performance
  9. Marketing Strategies and Implementation

Obviously, this is a brief overview of a complex task. It requires input from many departments, customer feedback and research. It may also be wise to enlist the aid of an outside agency to develop an overall strategy or perhaps revamp an existing strategy (you know, the one in a long-forgotten binder sitting on a dusty shelf!). A third party can bring a fresh perspective to the table and oftentimes provide a “reality check”—offering suggestions that employees can’t see (or don’t dare comment on).

An Ongoing Process
Keep in mind, once you develop your marketing strategy, you’re not done. An effective strategy should provide a daily, monthly, and yearly roadmap for your business, gauge performance and create accountability. It should remain flexible to changes within the marketplace and may require tweaking, just like a machine requires regular maintenance. A well-developed plan can also help outside vendors, such as marketing automation companies, build systems to match company goals.

Marketing has always been part art and part science. It involves creative, innovative thinking, as well as solid research, data analysis and metrics, because when all is said and done, results should be measureable. Marketing has also always been multi-faceted—we simply have more tactics and channels at our disposal. This abundance of choices makes an even stronger case for having a clear direction, because as Yogi Berra once said, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going because you might not get there.”