Business owners and managers need to keep coming up with plans to stay relevant in their particular market. They have to ensure that customers keep coming to them, while at the same time make certain that their competitors do not gain the upper hand. This is where marketing strategies come in. A business has to formulate these strategies in order to increase sales as well as gain an edge over competing products or services. If you need to create a marketing strategy for your business, then let this article serve as your guide. Be sure to download the sample checklists we have provided, too.
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Sample Marketing and Sales Strategy Template
Marketing and Communications Strategy Template
One-page Marketing Strategy Template
Strategic Marketing Plan for a Hotel
Writing your marketing strategy checklist
Whether you are trying to come up with a sample marketing strategy for the first time, or you are trying to improve an already existing one, here are some checklist items that you must include:
- The executive summary lists the key elements of a promotional campaign, including the financial information (circulation and expected revenue, average order, response rate, and total cost). The point of having an executive summary is to provide a list of the products that are being promoted through different media. This should also state whether the promotion is targeted to prospects or customers and it is a cross-sell or up-sell effort.
- Create a background that explains why you are doing this promotion into its proper context. This would usually contain around six key points that should help to highlight recent trends and developments as well as strategic issues.
- The three or four quantifiable and measurable objectives of the promotion—such as reducing fulfillment costs or testing new approaches—should be outlined.
- You have to clearly define the target audience into two different perspectives. The first would be the prime prospect’s behavior, demographic, and attitudinal dimensions. The second would be the customer’s current perceptions about your brand and the different categories of your products and services.
- Look at the competitive frame. Compare the key features of your products or services against those offered by your competitors. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your business? Do you offer more channel choices, better levels of customer satisfaction, or good service provision? It can also be of big help if you decide to include a review of your competition’s communication materials.
- You have to define your selling strategy as well as the perception of your targeted audience. You will be able to determine the key needs and wants that your products and services satisfy if you can learn how to properly define your target audience. You should also learn how promising the satisfaction of these needs should be positioned with your prospects. Next, you should outline the reaction of the targeted audience after they have seen or heard your promotion and learned about the different products and services that your business offers.
- Clarify whatever it is you are offering as well as the actions that you would like your prime prospects to take.
- Identify the supportive evidence for both the promise and the offer. What are the facts that would help persuade the target audience about the advantages of doing business with you? A good example of this would be showing your target audience that you are truly better, supported by money-back guarantees or customer satisfaction surveys.
- Set both the tone and the manner by which you are going to address your segment. Specify if you are going to do so as in a serious or humorous manner.
- Do not forget to list the mandatory items as well as the constraints. These would be the legal “musts” regarding product or service claims and compliance issues.
- Make a note of the production highlights such as the key considerations regarding printing requirements. These would include minimum quantities for press run economies, timetable issues, and the options to ensure that your company’s deadlines, as well as the strategy’s main objectives, are met. You also need to know which of these pieces need to be personalized, where the key code is going to be, and how it can be captured so that the responses from your target audience can be attributed.
- Highlight all of the key media factors that are going to be involved in your marketing promotion. If it is by phone, then you have to figure out how to handle dialing wrong numbers and whether you would like to speak to one person or more in a customer’s household. If it is going to be through mail, determine if you will do it through bulk or first-class mail, and whether or not you will bundle it with all of the other mailers.
- Any changes that are going to happen to customer service or fulfillment have to be outlined within your marketing strategy template. This is vital so that when you are going to receive responses, those who are involved in communicating with customers or processing responses will know exactly what they are supposed to do and say when they are confronted by certain situations. So be sure to outline your training plan in your strategy.
- Keep track of timing as well as key dates for all of the steps in your production process. This should include when the concepts are going to be ready, when the layouts and headlines are going to be finalized and made available, when the final package is going to be completed, when the materials would be ready for printing after final approval, when is the cutoff date for the promotion, and when the initial, as well as the final results, are going to come out.
Essential elements of a content marketing strategy
If you want to learn how to create a successful content marketing strategy, here are the few things you need to consider when you are developing your brand’s first strategy or if you are updating an existing one:
Before you get started on anything else, if multiple people or teams are speaking on behalf of a brand, then they are going to need clear directions regarding the brand’s voice, tone, and language. If you do not have something like a handbook or an outline of the brand’s guidelines, start by researching your competitors and take notes on whatever you learn that you can apply to your own brand. Then develop documentation and employee education resources.
Depending on the needs of your small business, you can have different key performance indicators (KPIs) and goals for your content marketing initiatives. It is even better if you take that a step further and and define the metrics for all of the different types of content you will be producing. The content can fall into different categories such as the following:
- Performance marketing content (these would be direct ads, demand generation pieces, and anything else related to promotional content that can drive sales)
- Brand awareness, consideration, and prospect perception content
- Local market communication and support content (these would be things like the assets you are sharing with retail partners, distributors, or local teams)
Determine which of your business’ goals are important to the success of your content. This should be both for short-term and long-term goals.
The point of marketing is for your business to reach out to both existing and potential customers, whether it is for a broadly defined group for a consumer brand or a narrower segment with one particular demographic of customers with specific behavioral attributes.
Document the people and personality profiles you want to influence and attract to your business. This should all be backed up with data that you have gathered and collected. Then create clear sheet summaries that you can use during marketing campaigns and hand these over to your customer-facing personnel. These sheet summaries can include demographic elements such as the following:
- Customer’s age
- Household income
- Job title or position
- Family status
The sheet summaries should also include cultural and behavioral traits such as :
- Needs of the consumer
- Customer fears
- Media preferences
- Personal values and goals
- Cultural influences
- Purchasing frictions
The most important thing is that you have to work to uncover a unique insight about your target customer that the rest of the competition have failed to appreciate or have overlooked entirely. This usually serves as the creative catalyst for a successful content strategy or campaign direction.
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Marketing Strategy Planning Template
B2B Content Marketing Strategy Checklist Template
Data and market research
Research and data are the cornerstones of understanding customers. These can be historical data (website traffic, customer feedback, sales data, survey data, or any recorded interactions regarding the brand), original primary research, or third-part research. There will be a lot of cases wherein you will require a mix of all three.
Some of the informative (and hopefully unbiased) research can come from social media as well as third-party sources, which can then be supplemented by interviews and internal analytics.
Customer journey map
Once your objectives are able to outline all of your wants, and when your work persona and research work are able to define who your customers are going to be, a journey map clarifies the specific needs of your customers and how you are going to meet them. An effective journey map draws the story arc of a potential customer (or persona) as they progress throughout their world and eventually interact with your brand. Although customer journey maps can be modeled off a traditional marketing funnel, they do not necessarily have to be linear. You can even add in overlays and new dimensions to a classic path-to-purchase model to make things more unique. A customer can jump from one stage to another, and this can all be based on various factors or triggers. They may even interact with some of your channels and touch points while skipping others completely. The journey map that you have to create must also cater to your customer profiles as well as how you are going to interact with them.
From a content marketing perspective, it is very important to understand your customer. It is also very important to understand the current state of your content within the industry as that will help you find the opportunities that can benefit your business. Here are the key questions that you should ask when it comes to how your content is going to fit the market:
- What can our content add to the conversation?
- What kind of customers are going to care about the content?
- How would the content tie in with the brand, products, and value proposition for customers?
By working through and answering these questions, you will be able to see all of the different opportunities that will introduce products, communicate with customers, and even develop guidelines for customer trends.
It is also important to pay close attention to the state of media behavior and content consumption formats. This would include the devices that your customers are currently using as well as visual trends.
Resource and capabilities assessment
Content marketing suffers from a definition problem. You cannot really define it, but you also know that you cannot market your product or service if you do not have it. The lack of clarity usually results in a lot of organizations wasting their precious resources. Identifying the content-market fit will allow you to determine the right resources that you are going to utilize so that you can adequately fund your programs.
Once you know the type of content you need to excel at and the publishing or campaign cadence, then you have to come up with the answers to the following questions:
- What is the budget for both content and creative work? How is it going to be broken down between production and development?
- How are you going to go about creating the content or how do you want it to be created?
- What kind of talent are you going to need for your creative team?
- What kind or processes or equipment are you going to need to implement your strategy?
Process or workflow
Every effective content program requires an iterative workflow or process that lets your team focus on what is important—creativity—then translate it into effective content. You have to think about all of these to ensure that the process of creating your marketing strategy is effective.
Internal communications plan
Once you are able to come up with your goals as well as the plans and resources to make them happen, communicate your content plan and operating rules to your stakeholders. You should also communicate with your creation team and make sure that they are aligned with your marketing strategy.
If you would like to learn more about marketing strategies or anything related to the topic (such as how to use marketing strategy templates), then be sure to read our other articles.