The importance of having a (marketing) strategy
“If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail,” is the cheesy catch-phrase of every smug, organised person who is addressing their less-organised fellow humans. Whilst it’s infuriating when this is used on you, it’s unfortunately true when it comes to the brutal arena of digital marketing.
A digital marketing strategy is not just something that sounds good to talk about in meetings or something to mumble when your boss asks you what you’re doing on Twitter in the middle of the day. When used properly, a digital marketing strategy can guide you and your business. It can be the Obi-Wan Kenobi figure that can guide almost every decision you make.
We’ll go through some important points you need to consider when beginning to fashion your strategy. If you want to go into further detail, just get in touch with your favourite periodic-table-based marketing agency.
This is the whole point of creating a marketing strategy. It’s your strategy’s raison d’etre. You’d be surprised how many businesses have a marketing strategy ‘because we should have one.’
Thinking about what you want from your strategy is not as simple as it sounds. Like arguing with your partner about what you’re having for dinner, you’ve got to have a clear idea of what you want and what success at the end of your strategy will look like.
This is no time to be vague. A mission statement of ‘We want to improve sales/make more money’ will absolutely not cut it I’m afraid. You need specifics. Do you want improved sales? How many? From what demographic? By when?
I normally resent personal development workshops, however, I will begrudgingly admit that thinking SMART helps you when setting your marketing objectives.
You’re not going to be a billion-pound business by next Tuesday. Be realistic, focused and most important, honest with yourself.
Everyone on the same page
Your marketing strategy is obviously a secret to your competitors (h2o top tip: don’t tweet your strategy). It’s not, however, a secret from your colleagues. A good marketing strategy that everyone knows and understands can ensure that everyone pulls in the same direction. This can help your branding be consistent and on-message regardless of who is in charge of the Twitter account that day.
Creating a marketing strategy can force you to really analyse your business. What is your personality? How do you want to be viewed?
Obviously, I shouldn’t have to tell you that your brand personality should be genuine and authentic. Otherwise, the public will not want to interact with you. For example, if you’re a small firm of accountants, don’t attempt to be the Paddy Power of the accountancy world as it won’t appear genuine, nor will it be likely to resonate well with your typical target client. This brings me nicely to my next point.
Do your research
Who are you targeting with your social media strategy? You need to have a clear idea of the demographic to whom you want to market (and a reason why) if you’re going to have a successful strategy. If you’re not entirely sure who this is likely to be, finding out who your customers are is always a useful exercise. There are a number of things you can do to help:
Review your orders: who has been buying from you/using your business?
Assess your followers are on social media to determine a ‘typical’ brand advocate.
If you have a sales/operations department, arrange for them to build a typical customer profile. They’re on the frontline being with these people so will have a good idea who they are.
If it’s a new segment that you’d like to target, do some listening on social media to build up accurate personas of your new targets.
This is important, as your target demographic will dictate which media your strategy will use. If you’re going for over 65s, a banterous Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram campaign is unlikely to be successful. With a clear aim and target in mind, the tone and method of your strategy can often fall into place.
When you’re creating your strategy, have a look at your calendar. Are there any events that would compliment your marketing strategies? A simple example would be a restaurant that wants more couples may naturally gravitate towards Valentine’s Day. Or you could alternatively do an anti-Valentine’s campaign promoting your takeaway services.
The point here is that there are certain events in the calendar that match your marketing strategy. National Beer Day was trending on Twitter on 4th August. With some advance planning, a bar could incorporate this into their strategy and offer a promotion based around an online competition. That would have encouraged me to go to the pub on a Friday (because I absolutely need encouragement).
As you can see, there is a lot more to a digital marketing strategy than ‘sell more things to more people.’ It takes a bit more thought and strategy, but when you have a solid base, you will find that many of the other elements seem obvious. If you’re still not sure how to build a great strategy, get in touch. Not all our plans revolve around Beer Day (mostly).