MarketingNerd

About this marketing blog…


My name Is Matt and I am a huge marketing nerd. My marketing blog is about providing practical marketing advice & tips you can apply to your business and campaigns today.

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Create a marketing strategy in under an hour

Unless you are working in a multi-office, multi-million pound company with dozens of stakeholders and a complex bureaucracy you don’t need to write a 10,000 word essay to form your marketing strategy.

In this post I will show you how to create an effective marketing strategy quickly and easily, removing all the theoretical fluff that is typically not needed for small businesses.

What is a “strategy”?

Before I get started I want to define how I am using the word “strategy”. It has different meanings for different people, some of which are wrong.  A strategy is

“…a high level plan to achieve one or more goals.” – Wikipedia.

Your strategy is what you want to achieve. Your tactics/goals are how you will achieve that. So, the first place to start with is “What”

What is your company’s strategic vision?

A marketing plan should also come directly from the company’s overall strategy. If you create a marketing plan in isolation it loses any meaning. Start by stating your company’s vision so that everything else flows from this.

A vision statement is a declaration of your company’s goals for the midterm or long-term future. Some examples of vision statements include:

For example, if I were presented with Disney’s vision, my goal would be to find out what makes our target audience happy, and then how Disney can contribute to that emotion. With out knowing this vision my marketing plan would be done in ignorance of this, and my ideas may unknowingly conflict .

What challenges are you facing to achieve that vision?

This is often drawn up using a SWOT and/or PEST analysis, and although that is a good way to help structure your thoughts, it doesn’t have to be presented like that.

A quick overview using bullet points or a short summary is enough. You should ideally use external sources of information for this rather than your own anecdotal thoughts.

You can do this with information you probably already have e.g. categorising customer complaints/feedback, data from customer surveys, competitor research and benchmarking etc.

For example:

What do you want to achieve with your strategy?

Based on your vision and current challenges, list the key two or three outcomes you want to achieve by creating/updating your strategy.

This may be to cement a position you already have, or take your brand in a completely new direction. For example, you may want to:

Who are your customers?

Once you know what you what to achieve with your strategy, you should start building up a picture of your target audience and where you fit in.

Again, I would recommend on using data rather than your own thoughts. It is very difficult to know how customers think of you from the inside. Existing account data (e.g. postcode) and customer surveys are the ideal sources of information here.

Positioning your brand

All that information should have helped you to create a picture of where you are, where you want to be, who your customers are, and where you can communicate with them. The next step is to define how you will communicate with them. and how can you start to go about adding value? 

Let’s start by defining your key messages. These should flow through everything you do. For example based on the previous steps I have identified the importance of support, security and speed as important to my customers.

With this in mind I might want to position my brand as having:

You can now start breaking each of them down further, and listing how you will achieve them. For example:

Great UK customer support

So we have now defined our strategy. The next step is to start working on the tactical side.

Where will you communicate this?

Where you advertise should now be an easy choice now you know who your target audience are and what they want. Now it is a case of matching your audience and messages with the correct media.

In terms of 3rd party advertising, if you are unsure whether a media outlet is right for your audience as for their media pack. This will contain information about who their audience is along with the rate card.

Putting it in to practice

Having a plan is one thing, using it is another. To make sure this doesn’t become a paper exercise create a list of actions, along with who is responsible and when they need to deliver it.

ChannelTaskTeam memberDeliverable date
BrandCreate positioning statements for brand & each product and create visual guidelines for all collateral to follow.Initialsxx/xx/xx
PrintAudit current print schedule & develop new ads.Initialsxx/xx/xx
EventsIdentify awards and events we can sponsor/ attend.Initialsxx/xx/xx
On-site contentCreate resources for [audience] to download and share.Initialsxx/xx/xx
Content marketing & blogDeveloping useful content for [audience].Initialsxx/xx/xx
CopyCreate copy guidelines based on a [audience] audience.Initialsxx/xx/xx
Display/bannersWebsites (forums, blogs, news…) and new banners.Initialsxx/xx/xx
CampaignsCreate campaign schedule to support positioning.Initialsxx/xx/xx
Customer marketingCreate content & email format tailored to audience for newsletters.Initialsxx/xx/xx

In conclusion

I hope this helps to give you a practical and quick way of creating a marketing strategy. The most important thing is to never let this become a paper exercise. Your strategy should inform your actions. If it doesn’t, it isn’t worth having.

Author

Hello! My name is Matt and I have a serious passion for anything marketing related, both academically and professionally. I started writing this blog as a way of expressing my thoughts and opinions on marketing, and in response to the number of theoretical blogs out there that presume unlimited resources. My focus is on providing realistic and practical marketing advice you can apply to any business and campaign.

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