marketing strategy

The Importance of Marketing Strategy & How to Avoid Strategic Failures

Defining Your Marketing  Strategy

Marketing strategies are simple in theory. The more you begin to flesh them out, however, you’ll find there are a lot of details easily overlooked. More often than not, these overlooked details are what hold you accountable to a successful strategy, and also keep you honest to two very simple questions: one, did you successfully execute what you initially set out to? And two, did you achieve the goals you set? Addressing these questions is fundamental to reporting on the marketing strategy that you implement.

First and foremost, it is important to establish a clear objective for the account across all aspects that you work on with the client. Having a succinct plan of objectives for the business will lead to a clear vision for each objective and therefore allow you to tailor specific strategies to execute. Without a clear objective, each strategy will constantly be pivoting and it will be hard to evaluate the outcome based on the goals that were initially set. Ultimately, strategy is taking what we want to achieve for the account, our objective, and turning it into how we get there. Defining how we get there are the Tactics of how you will implement your strategy. It is important that when you go from Objective to Strategy to Tactics that there is a clear reason as to why each one supports the other. Without being able to answer “why?” at each level means that there are attributes of your strategy you will not be able to actively measure. By answering the classic who, what, where, when, and why, your strategy and tactics will present themselves.

digital marketing tactics

Targeting Your Audience

So who are you trying to reach? While anyone may purchase a product or service, it is imperative to have a specific target in mind, as this will have an effect on the entire structure of the campaign. When defining your persona, identify factors that could possibly change, such as behavioral patterns, location (city) and language, interests, values, and external influencers. Factors such as gender, location (urban, suburb, rural), age, and situation (marriage, kids, school, working) are less likely to change within your target demographics. While it is easy to simply guess which audiences will perform well, it is necessary to look to concrete resources, such as analytics, to identify who is purchasing your product. If you simply assume who your target customers are, you’re missing out on the potential for new customers that may not be reached with current strategies. A defined target audience will inform future campaigns and messaging.

Once you’ve identified your target audience and established a clear objective, you can determine where you’d like to reach the customer in the purchase path. Third party sources and even customer surveys that can help you identify your target will pinpoint where customers are in the purchase path. While you may think an awareness campaign is necessary if you have a familiar brand you can set your target audience lower in the purchase funnel to the consideration phase. Furthermore, from the standard awareness, familiarity, consideration, and purchase phases, you must ascertain what your product or service provides:

  • A need vs a want
  • Single purchase or recurring purchase opportunity
  • Planned purchase or impulse purchase

audience purchase funnel

If a product is categorized as a need, meaning it’s a recurring purchase opportunity, it is more likely to fall under consideration. But when a  product that is a want, meaning it’s a single purchase, it is more likely to require awareness to move purchasers down the funnel.

Talking To Your Audience

Now you must decide which message to send your set target audience and where you have identified them in the purchase path. Focus on being in tune with your product differentiators and how relevant those are to your targeting. While there may be a differentiator that works well for the consideration phase, it may not be best to highlight that when you are trying to build awareness to a product or service offering. Note that not everyone will always buy into what that the differentiator, depending on what phase of the purchase funnel they are in.

After you have identified the messaging, match that with the optimal channel. Whereas you may have a strength in one channel, such as social media, that may not be the best outlet for providing messaging to your target, depending on their status in the purchase phase. By aligning your placement with the target audience, purchase funnel, and messaging, you can determine which channel is the best to achieve your goals. Targeting users in the awareness phase will be a prime candidate for social media, whereas someone in a research phase may want more product-specific pages such as reviews, webinars, or downloadable content prime for paid search. Depending on the demographics of your target audience, strategies that may have performed well historically might not have reach on certain channels. For example, trying to reach Baby Boomers on Twitter will likely not be as effective compared to Facebook.

The most important question is, why are you doing this? You can’t create a solid marketing plan without addressing what the key metrics of success are. This will allow you to truly evaluate if you accomplished what was initially outlined in the strategy. You will want to identify what your goals are at each level from the objective, to strategy and onto tactics. This will help to highlight wins and losses at each level and know where you can improve going forward. If goals are not set in advance of launching the strategy, you will be flying blind in regards to if the campaign met the objectives that you set based on the needles that you wanted to move.

Knowing your target audiences, when they need to be reached, and what messaging will reach them where they are will allow you to clearly put the strategy into action and ensure that the defined tactics are in line with the intent for the account. Once that plan is complete, your reporting has already been defined, letting you objectively evaluate what has worked.

 

This post including the images are based on Distilled VP Robert Osbey’s presentation at Austin’s 2017 State of Search conference. 

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Zak Brooks
zbrooks@effectivespend.com