Marketing is a fast-moving world
The pace of the marketing world means it can be easy to be constantly reactive.
You may be reacting to the latest trends, ideas and news. Maybe it’s what competitors are doing, changes in the market or what your customers may be expecting of you.
Being on top of what’s happening and responsive is a good thing. But not if this is how you’re approaching marketing all the time. A constant reactive approach can lead you to miss opportunities, run of ideas, suffer exhaustion and even burn out.
What if you could see what you needed to do earlier? What if you could be more sure that you’re taking the best action to grow your business? What if it could all be easier?
That’s why you need to plan for success. A great marketing strategy and plan enhances your focus and helps you prioritise. It smoothes your way.
The 10 important things your marketing strategy needs
- A vision that feels real
You need both a vision for your business and for your marketing. Make sure it’s really clear. Write it down. Make it into a vision board. Make it into a video. Whatever you need to bring it to life so it feels real.
- Why do I want to do this?
- What is my mission?
- What is the impact I want to make?
- Where do I want to be or to have done in five years or ten years?
Make sure you display this somewhere you’ll see it regularly. Above your desk. On a main wall in your office. Wherever you are.
- An original brand identity
Every business and every business leader is unique. You need to be clear on what makes you different so you can bring this to life because your originality is your advantage.
- What is unique about my blend of skills, experiences, personality and style?
- How did I get to where I am today, where am I going and why?
- What is special about this?
Establishing your identity is a powerful exercise and is your greatest marketing asset. For specific tips around doing this well, listen to episode 001 of the Origineur podcast – Stand out and succeed by being truly unique.
- Powerful long-term goals
Your long-term goals are the big steps you are going to achieve to make your vision happen. Some questions to ask are:
- What are the major goals I need to achieve to realise my vision?
- What is the best order – or the only order – to complete them?
- What do I need to do – or not do – to achieve my goals?
- How much time do I need for each?
Your big goals can take many forms. Maybe they relate to how much money you want to make. Maybe they relate to a product or service you want to develop. Perhaps you’re looking to transform the market.
Notice here that we’re looking at your overall business goals. Only once these are clear should you then set your big marketing goals. That’s because they need to align with what you have planned.
If your marketing plan goes off in a separate direction, you risk spending time and money on activities that you don’t need, or won’t lead to more profit.
Be clear on what would have a big impact, little impact or no impact. Being honest with yourself about this will give you focus.
Your measures tell you how well you’re doing.
Often measures are dropped in at the end of a strategy but the best place for them is right next to your goals. This is because your measures are a test of whether your goals are strong enough.
A weak goal is essentially a wish.
For example, a business may say it wants to be a ‘leader in the industry’. But, what does this mean? Is it the most profitable? To have the best reputation? To be the most innovative?
Once you can be specific, the goal becomes stronger. You’ll know because you can measure it.
For example ‘We want to be the most profitable hotel in the luxury British tourism market’ or ‘We want to win a gold award for customer service’.
What you measure moves. You can track your progress. You can see if the action you’re taking is working or adjust the plan if it’s not.
You’ll know if you are successful.
- A meaningful set of values
Your values are essentially how you work. Like your identity, this is another thing that separates you from your competitors. Only you will do things exactly the way you do.
- What are the five things that are most important to me? For example, is it being creative, committed or caring?
- What is it about the way I do things that is different from others?
- What makes me feel proud about the way I do things?
- Insight into your audiences
Notice here that I didn’t say target audiences. This is because it’s not only your customers who are your audience. Maybe you have a team, suppliers, trade bodies, government and communities that are interested in your business too.
- Who is important to my business? Organise them into groups.
- What do they need to know and how would I like them to feel about my business?
When it comes to your marketing strategy, there are some further questions to ask about your customers such as:
- What do they want and need?
- What are their challenges?
- What are their desires?
- Why is my business the best for them?
- Market intelligence
It’s wise to research the market before launching into a product or campaign, based on your goals and your audiences.
- Where is the market going? What is changing? What opportunities are on the horizon? How can I achieve my vision in this environment?
- What are my key competitors doing and what can I learn from this? If you don’t yet have competitors, how soon may they spring up and what might they do?
- What am I doing that’s different and how could I stand out?
- A distinctive voice
Another factor that makes you and your business unique is how you sound. The way you speak and write makes you distinctive.
It’s important to capture this in your strategy so that you can keep this consistent in all your marketing activities.
Ask yourself whether you sound:
- Formal or friendly?
- Serious or light-hearted?
- Distant or approachable?
- Conversational or to the point…and so on.
You don’t have to be one extreme or the other, just what’s right for you.
If you’re not sure, take some content you have already written, or write a few pieces, and look for the trends. Notice what you like and what you want to adjust to create the style of voice you are seeking.
Mostly importantly, don’t try to be someone else or something you’re not.
Be proud to be you!
- The right channels for you
Your channels are the places you are present. You don’t need to be everywhere, only where your audiences are.
Channels can be social media platforms, newspapers, magazines, tv stations, events, podcasts – like Origineur – and more.
There are three simple questions to ask yourself when choosing your channels:
- Where do my audiences hang out?
- Which fit with my natural style?
- Which channels would have the greatest impact on my business success?
You don’t need to start being present on all these channels at once. You could pick the one with the best prospects, start there and expand at the right time for you.
- An action plan you’re committed to
Finally, once you’ve developed your strategy, you’ll be in a position to create your action plan. This breaks down what you’ll be doing, when, where, how and targeted at who.
Take your big goals, break them down, year by year, month by month, week by week into specific focuses. Revisit this regularly to see what’s working, what’s not and decide what you need to do as a result of this learning.
Take into consideration how much time you realistically have. Decide what actions will make the greatest difference and prioritise around them. Don’t make life hard for yourself. Plan around what you do best.
Your action plan should then grow with you.
Planning should be inspiring not cumbersome
Planning doesn’t have to be cumbersome. In fact it should never be too heavy because it needs to be dynamic and inspiring.
Spending time planning now will save you far more later. It will make you clearer on what you need to do and make you more focused. You’ll be less likely to be swayed by what other people are doing and fleeting trends because you’ll be more connected with your vision and what truly matters.
You can’t forecast and plan for everything. However, by planning up front and learning from everything you do, you’ll start to get ahead of the majority of things.
You’ll be able to line up the people, skills and resources you need in good time. You’ll reduce the anxiety that comes with facing unexpected situations that you’re not prepared for. You’ll also reduce the frustration that comes from missing out on opportunities because you’re not ready.
Being well planned doesn’t mean you’ll never have to react, but that you’ll substantially reduce your reactive activity. This will conserve your energy and help you sustain the creativity and focus that’s required to lead a business successfully.
And, if you need deadlines to motivate you, set your own mini goals. Be the one who drives the deadlines rather than be the one who is driven by the demands of others.
Finally, don’t let your strategy and plan gather dust. Make it visual and revisit it regularly on your journey to success.
- Your strategy and plan are your map. You need a great map to guide you toward your vision, your goals and your ambitions.
- Your business and marketing goals should be aligned. All your actions should work together to make your vision happen.
- You need all the ten ingredients we’ve covered today for a solid marketing strategy but it doesn’t have to be cumbersome to create. It should be inspiring and engaging. It should fire you up to achieve your vision!