Understanding the basic elements of marketing strategy and planning is critical to the success of every business. Indeed, these are the plans used to connect with your target market and influence your target audience. The concept is simple, yet many small and medium-sized businesses continue to fail in their marketing efforts. Why is that?
According to the intelligence data provider CB Insights, 14% of US companies fail due to poor marketing. There are several reasons for this. The principal causes are a lack of in-house expertise, too few marketing resources, and uncoordinated plans. Another is the misalignment of financial interests. Also, the marketing landscape is forever changing, making much of the advice online outdated and contradictory.
This new guide covers the basic marketing strategies you need to succeed in 2023 and beyond. You will see how disparate yet critical elements shape a cohesive winning formula. But first, let’s unblur the lines between marketing strategies, tactics, and campaigns.
Why Your Digital Marketing Strategies Matter
Marketing campaigns and specific marketing initiatives are hyperfocused on achieving particular objectives. But without a comprehensive marketing strategy driving their implementation, they can become removed from your organization’s overall marketing and business goals. Therefore, a solid marketing strategy is vital to ensuring disparate marketing initiatives remain in line with—and drive—your organization’s overall business objectives.
The Key Elements of a Winning Marketing Strategy
All winning marketing strategies consist of seven key elements that must work together to create successful campaigns. Here is a simple checklist of those critical elements:
- Define your audience: create clear customer profiles and/or buyer personas
- Conduct thorough market and competitor analysis
- Create well-defined marketing-specific goals
- Review your budget
- Develop your marketing strategy implementation
- Consider your media marketing vehicles
The idea is to analyze your marketing challenges and create a clear policy. You can then decide on the best tactics or actions to carry out your strategy.
#1 Define Your Target Audience
It’s much easier to tailor your messaging once you know whom to target and how to reach them. Identifying your audience forces you to focus your marketing efforts and dollars on those most likely to want what you offer. Identifying your ideal customer is also a more efficient and affordable way to generate new business leads and connect with previous buyers.
Products change, and shopping habits develop as market trends and technology evolve. For these reasons, customer profiles and client personas are never static. So be sure to review and update them periodically to stay ahead of the game.
#2 Conduct Market & Competitor Analysis
Market analysis, a comprehensive assessment of your target market and industry’s competitive landscape, is essential to a winning marketing strategy. It helps you understand your direct competition and gives insights into new competitors.
Savvy marketers use this data to plan the most suitable way to market goods or services. A detailed market analysis also helps you recognize any overlooked issues with your offerings. Consequently, the analysis process determines the suitability of what you sell within a specified market and how to best promote it.
Competitor analysis takes an in-depth look at your direct contenders within the market. This research helps you uncover rival strategies, along with their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and potential Threats (SWOT). The SWOT analysis reveals how well-positioned your organization is compared to your competition and highlights opportunities for creating a competitive advantage. Understanding your competitors in this way contributes to forming a winning marketing strategy.
So, every successful marketing strategy must look inwards (strengths and weaknesses) as well as out. A regular review of your SWOT analysis is an excellent guide for tracking progress at each stage of your marketing operations. It helps you build on your strengths, address weaknesses, seize new opportunities, and minimize risks.
Competitor Performance & Industry Benchmarks
Whatever your business sells, rival firms will always offer comparable goods or services. That’s why it’s a marketing strategy best practice to review benchmarks. The aim is to see what and how the industry performs on average as well as your closest rivals compared to your company’s products or services. Once you know who your competition is, you can decide which metrics and KPIs to set as competitive benchmarks.
Here are five steps to execute a basic competitive benchmarking strategy:
- Recognize competitors to benchmark
- Decide on your competitive benchmark metrics
- Generate a report of relevant metrics
- Measure the results
- Implement winning marketing strategies based on the above
This table shows some of the most common benchmarking metrics to track.
|PRODUCT/SERVICE METRICS||AUDIENCE METRICS|
Quality of product or service
SERP visibility and awareness
Social channels and reach
Time to market
Time to produce product/service
Audience engagement rate
Number of interactions
Fan growth rate
Social share of voice
Review the Seven Ps of Marketing Principles
Product | Promotion | Price | Place | People | Process | Physical Evidence
The most successful marketing initiatives are carefully planned, starting with a bold strategy. They create goals for measuring the success of every campaign. Typically, these goals focus on improving brand awareness, revenue, and business growth.
The seven Ps are foundational in developing the marketing mix used in successful strategies. The idea is to determine how each P affects the others as you create your strategy. But you must frequently revisit your marketing’s seven Ps using the information learned in your research and previous performance benchmarks to ensure marketing efforts continue to make sense for your overall strategy and stay on track.
#3 Identify Your Goals & Measurements
Marketing goals should give marketers and organizations direction, purpose, and vision. However, your marketing objectives are pointless without a plan to track, measure, and tweak them. So, setting measurable goals gives you insights into your campaigns’ effectiveness and overall impact on sales and user engagement.
Know Your Business Goals
Business goals vary between companies and industries. But, from a digital marketing perspective, most focus on similar drives.
|AUDIENCE-FOCUSED GOALS||COMPANY-FOCUSED GOALS|
|Generate high-quality leads|
Acquire new customers
Increase website traffic
Increase customer value
Boost brand engagement
|Strive to be an industry authority|
Improve internal branding
Raise brand awareness
Improve/increase inbound marketing
Turn MQLs (potentials) into SQLs (probable)
It’s important to create goals that are actionable and measurable. You can ensure your goals are on target by using the SMART goals framework.
SMART goals are clear, structured, and aligned with your marketing strategy. They work with your overall business goals based on detailed market/competitor research. This combined process ensures your marketing efforts remain achievable, laser-focused, and on message. And most importantly, this systematic method prevents you from becoming overwhelmed by a lack of direction.
#4 Review Your Budget
How much should your company allocate for marketing? It’s a question many SMBs grapple with. That’s not surprising as there are many considerations and no one-size-fits-all approach.
But as a starting point, a marketing budget is a set percentage of total revenue. That percentage varies between industry, business size, and turnover. Many averages are published by industry type, but these are only benchmarks.
For B2B companies, the average budget is between 2%–8%, and for B2C, it’s 5%–10%. The average marketing budget for businesses across the board is 13.6% of total revenue. These are the findings of Deloitte’s 2023 Annual CMO Survey.
How to Calculate Your Marketing Budget
The “expert advice” for creating accurate marketing budgets is overwhelming. The best approach is to use historical data if you have it. Also, spreadsheets or special marketing budget management software will improve accuracy and tracking.
In every case, your calculation will consider the following six points:
- Understand your customer’s needs
- Evaluate the company revenue
- Know your customer’s goals
- Measure the average cost per lead (CPL)
- Define the average conversion rate
- Determine the number of leads your need
Marketing matters. Most small US businesses are spending more on their marketing budgets each year, according to a survey of SBOs and marketers.
For a more detailed look at how much you should be spending on your marketing, see our Marketing Budget Breakdown.
#5 Develop Your Marketing Strategy Implementation
Winning marketing strategies identify target markets and build client profiles and buyer personas. This data is used to set attainable goals and decide which marketing tools will best achieve those aims.
But before promoting your products or services, you need a clear idea of the best channels and assets to use. The final stage is preparing the media mix to execute the campaigns you will then monitor, report, tweak, and test.
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Decide Which Media & Tactics to Use
A common mistake marketers make is restricting the media and tactics used in their campaigns. Outbound email marketing alone is easy, but is it enough? Not likely. So, the most effective marketing campaigns look at the bigger picture and assimilate a variety of channels, media types, and strategies. What you use depends on your business model, budget, goals, timeframe, etc.
Marketing Mix Considerations
The medium through which you reach an audience can be digital, traditional, or both. The most familiar traditional media channels are radio, television, magazines, newspapers, and out-of-home advertising. Despite its age, traditional media still attract eyeballs, and that’s not all.
Here are five reasons companies still include traditional media in their marketing mix:
- Consumers trust traditional media more than digital
- Targets an older demographic
- Works exceptionally well for local advertisers
- Higher reach, albeit less targeted
- Can work well in conjunction with digital media
Digital marketing is media consumed through internet-connected devices. It’s easier to direct campaigns to a target market through modern channels, but the effect is less predictable than it used to be. That’s because there’s a growing distrust in online news, promotions, and ads. So, winning marketing strategies often blend old and new media tactics and channels.
Remember, reaching a target market is not enough in and of itself. Your marketing success also depends on the quality of your message and the content you distribute.
#6 Consider Your Media Marketing Vehicles
The owned, earned, shared, and paid media framework offers a blended approach using the available media types. So consider all available mediums, assets, and media channels before deciding which strategy best fits your campaign.
Owned Media Tells Your Story
Owned media is mostly informative digital assets owned by your brand or company: websites, blog content, email lists, newsletters, imagery, and downloadable content. The advantage of owned media is that you have complete control over how to use it and the message. Some companies develop diverse portfolios of owned digital and traditional media.
Paid Media Shares Your Story
Paid media refers to paying for the placement of your marketing content in a media you do not own. It’s usually in the form of ads with a guarantee of visibility. Typical examples of digital paid media include social ads, online banners, and search advertising. Traditional paid media also works well for some products or services, e.g., sponsorships, print advertisements, and broadcast commercials.
Earned Media Influences Your Prospects
You have little control over the placement of your brand and marketing earned media platforms. Still, it can be incredibly valuable, especially when coming from a trusted source with a large following. That could mean non-endorsement celebrity mentions, social influencers, and high-profile websites endorsing your products. A positive plug from authoritative sources can build trust, increase sales, and help with offsite SEO.
A winning marketing strategy plan includes a mix of different media and placements to achieve its goals. This measured approach blends paid, owned, and earned media options. But, if you focus on only one media category, your campaign is unlikely to realize its full potential. So, the solution is to use a variety of channels so that one type offsets the weaknesses of another, thus covering all your media bases.
Buyer’s Journey Map
You can only create a customer-friendly journey map once your campaign has the correct data and processes in place for the target market. There are five stages to this progression. Each includes the touchpoints where your customer interacts in some way with your product. Thus, your customer profile or buyer persona must be at the top of this model.
Companies tailor buyer’s journey maps to align with their business model. However, you can use the table below as a template for brainstorming ideas.
Market Research Options
Confirm the Partnership
Continued Use of Company Services and Support
Recommend Services to Others
Gated lead generation
Likes, follows, shares
Low-funnel paid media
Closed or won opportunities
Onboarded welcome email
New account nurture campaign
New account welcome series
Annual revenue from accounts
Ongoing blog content
Net promoter score (NPS)
Rating invite series
#7 Winning Marketing Strategy, Put It All Together
The complexities of a winning marketing strategy should now be apparent. The principle elements of a successful approach found in this guide lay the foundation. You will better understand the time, energy, and resources needed to tailor workable plans for each product or service you want to promote. You are now well-placed to frame an effective annual marketing plan around more manageable proportions.
Elements of Marketing Strategy Key Takeaway
A clear, concise marketing strategy provides you with a roadmap or blueprint to follow. Below are five critical points to help keep you focused on your objectives.
- Be realistic and set achievable goals
- Never lose sight of your target market and how to best reach them
- Decide on the strategic approaches to achieve your goals
- Review and update your strategy regularly
- Expect to adapt and change with shifts in business
Recap on the Winning Elements of Marketing Strategy
Access to data, growing and aggressive competition, and evolving technology mean businesses must continually adapt to compete. That’s why winning marketing strategies are the heartbeat of every successful organization. But to succeed, marketers should expect to reskill, analyze, experiment, review, and test, test, test.
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