In order to create anything meaningful, you have to target where you’re going. But perhaps more importantly, you need to know how you’re going to get there. You need a strategy — a plan of action.
Having a marketing strategy is vital for the growth and ultimate success of your business. Here’s how we develop and implement a marketing plan specifically suited to your own goals and where you want to go.
Creating a Foundational Strategy Before Detailed Action Items
Sometimes, small business owners fall for the hot, new marketing trend of the week. This happens because they don’t have an overall, comprehensive strategy created to cater to their specific goals.
So, what is the key element to making your marketing highly effective? The answer is a strategy-first approach.
You need to build a foundational strategy before you even think about your detailed tactics. A great way to begin to think about your marketing strategy is to ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you trying to sell to everyone? What kinds of people are really interested in what you have to offer?
- Are you struggling to stand out from your main competitors? How can you discover what makes you different?
- Do you feel confused about which marketing options to choose? Are you unsure of where to put time and energy into marketing? What platforms would even make sense for you right now?
These are strategy problems that can only be handled with strategy solutions.
You must clarify your core business goals — where you want to go and who you want to reach. Once you have those defined, it becomes easy to build a roadmap of the actionable marketing tactics it will take to make that strategy effective and to move you steadily towards meeting your monthly marketing objectives. Set the foundation first, and then choosing your tactics becomes incredibly clear.
How do you know what type of person can become your best customer?
Talk to your current customers. They are your best form of research.
Your customers are a precious resource you can learn from to help frame your entire business, your core copy, your products or services, and so much more.
Really getting to know your current customers can help you see clearly things you might take for granted. You might be surprised at why they like working with you or what makes them excited about your product. They can teach you the best ways to attract, reach, and better serve more loyal customers just by telling you their personal experiences and story. Let them help you uncover your ideal customer.
How do you figure out how to stand out from your competitors?
Running competitive research will help you grow and evolve your business. It’s so much more than researching your direct competitors — it’s taking a look at your entire digital competition. Who in your industry stands out? When a potential client searches for your type of business, what do they find? Can they find you at the top of their search?
Look at what terminology your competitors are using in their digital footprint. Can you tell their ranking in web searches? How do your keywords and ranking compare to your competition? What is the tone of their content? Do they have a blog? What are they writing about? What kind of ads are they creating? Do you stand out above them with the language you have on digital platforms? This kind of research helps you…
- Learn new ways to engage existing and potential customers.
- Understand which metrics are involved in having other sites ranking higher than yours in your area of expertise.
- Discover the type of content you need to be creating to achieve your strategic goals.
- Use very specific data to create new opportunities and spot untapped connections.
- Grab new opportunities to gain new loyal clients.
How do you meaningfully engage with new and existing clients?
Nobody wants to be sold to. People want help with getting their problems solved.
They’re looking to find some relief from some level of discomfort—an overwhelming task, a skill they don’t possess, time they don’t have, or a sticky situation they would prefer to avoid.
And they want help preparing themselves, or their business, for the future.
It’s your job as a business owner to understand the problems people are trying to solve and match your skills, time, and expertise to those things they find complicated and confusing.
Most people are more likely to choose someone who will help carry their workload in a new and different way.
They aren’t necessarily looking for “services” or “solutions.”
They want someone who can lead them and work beside them.
YOU need to have an approach that is focused on a very specific type of client who has a very specific need or problem.
Your job is to loyally solve that problem in a specific way — promising the relief that they’ve been looking for.
What does the journey look like to creating a loyal, happy customer?
Your customer’s journey isn’t linear, even though many marketing “plans” might say otherwise. Our job is to help guide clients, buyers, or customers as they travel down the meaningful marketing path.
The way that people purchase today has changed dramatically. It is now the role of the business to shape a coordinated structure to engagement instead of the older methods of creating demand. The best phrase for this new approach is that we need to organize behavior.
In a traditional marketing funnel, a classic approach is defined in linear stages such as “Awareness, then Consideration, and then Purchase.” What the traditional marketing funnel neglects to address is that when it comes to lead and referral generation, a happy customer is your most powerful lead and referral generator! A single exceptionally satisfied voice can have a far greater impact than any basic marketing material.
This is why we follow the Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass approach. It consists of seven connected stages:
- Know: one of the best ways to become known is through organic search. Start using unique content to spark interest — ask your best customers what they want to know about.
- Like: once someone knows your business, you need to nurture your leads during this phase by demonstrating your expertise, sharing knowledge, and giving them useful resources.
- Trust: people purchase from organizations they trust. Get your customers involved in content creation. This is where customer-generated videos, case studies, stories, and social media are a major playing piece.
- Try: this stage is where the audition happens. It’s where you need to really deliver more than anyone. Consider doing a free or low-cost version of what you sell. Or better yet, give a guarantee to back up the risk they are putting into the relationship.
- Buy: it’s time to show real results and keep the experience high in this stage. Think about how you orient new customers, exceed their expectations, and surprise them. The complete customer experience is justified by the end result — how you created the end result is more important than what you did to get the sale.
- Repeat: the best way to get repeat business is to make sure you know why your clients value doing business with you what they received that felt worth it for them to want to work with you again.
- Refer: help happy clients want to refer new customers to you. Create a remarkable experience with your customers which exceeds their expectations so that they are compelled to share your business with others.
Every business has these interconnected stages in some way, but many aren’t addressing all of the stages. You need to figure out what the journey is like for people who are looking for the solutions you offer.
Every stage has its opportunity to develop meaningful relationships to move your business towards its strategic goals.
Take some time to think this over and use the Marketing Hourglass framework to map your customer journey — keep in mind that it is your role to organize behavior and create guidance in a customer’s less-than-linear journey.
The next step in a marketing action plan is to strategically use different types of content at the various stages of the hourglass.
Now is the time to use your content as the voice for your strategy
Content creation can be the hardest, most time-consuming job a marketer has to do. But when you plan your content based on your hourglass framework, you’ll receive a high payoff for your work.
Content has grown beyond just being one piece to your marketing strategy and tactic — it touches all aspects of your marketing goals and your business development.
It powers the entire customer journey.
Your audience expects to be able to find information about any product, service, or challenge they face simply by doing a Google search. And if you aren’t showing up, you have become an invisible, unknowable, non-competing factor in the market.
There’s a pretty good chance they won’t move forward with you because you lack credibility in their eyes, or you are not even on their radar. People go with solutions they feel they can trust, and online content creates an easy-in for a client to begin to build trust with you on their own terms.
You must use content as your strategic voice, and the best way to do this is to produce content that focuses on education and building trust at every stage potential customers are taking in their journey.
It’s important to develop your quarterly priorities and use a calendar to guide you.
As a small business owner, your to-do list is always full and there is never enough time in the day to get it all done. This is why your marketing strategy must be viewed as a habit that’s ingrained in your daily routine.
Planning for what needs to be done and when is how you stay focused on the tasks that will help you reach your goals, your metrics, and your greatest ROI. A great starting point is to create a list of the highest impact items to implement for each quarter.
Start by fixing some things this quarter, then live by the calendar. Just get started! If you don’t schedule it, odds are it won’t happen.
Something that has worked extremely well for many business owners — who have been trained by the Duct Tape Marketing system — is adding monthly themes around your foundational marketing projects, breaking them up, and spreading them out over the course of the year.
If you commit to a yearly calendar and break out projects quarterly according to your high impact items, you’re more likely to be able to follow it on a consistent basis. Keep your yearly goals in front of you and make them tangible with specific daily tasks.
What you measure matters
There are so many things you can measure: sales metrics, social metrics, content metrics, conversion metrics, growth metrics — the list goes on. And one of the hardest things is determining what you should be measuring.
You need to make sure you measure what matters, not just easy numbers. You can start by doing these four things:
- Use metrics that serve your strategic objectives: whether it’s your goal to increase customers by X or grow your audience by X, you need to define what metrics make sense for the goals that you’ve set.
- Set up target goals for each high impact objective: decide how you’re going to collect the data you need to determine whether or not you are on the right path.
- Decide what tools or resources you’ll use to track your progress: we marketers use dashboards every day. As a business owner, you need to be able to see what’s happening day-to-day.
- Use your data to discover new approaches and improve current practices: when you measure the right things, you’ll start to see trends — why something happened, who is responding, what seems to have the greatest impact, and what you might be able to do to make improvements.
Running your business without a well-researched and developed marketing plan is like driving without a map. You might reach your destination, but you’ll probably end up taking more than a few costly detours along the way. But you can avoid a lot of pain, frustration, and wasted time and resources by first developing a strategic plan.
Implement a marketing plan that is based on strong customer relationships, consistent and meaningful content, and stick to a calendar to get it done. By doing so, you’ll produce great data and better long-term results and growth for your business.
Use McBreen Marketing to Implement a Marketing Strategy for Your Business
Improving your marketing is easy if you have the right strategies and the right partners. McBreen Marketing will partner with you to help you build the best system for your business. With us as your partner, we can improve your marketing and help you grow your business.
Are you ready to let McBreen Marketing help you tackle your marketing woes? Get started by contacting us for a free consultation today.