Even though marketing is a fundamental business function, it is often the first place executives look to cut costs. Despite shrinking budgets, marketing teams are still expected to deliver on initiatives including lead generation, advertising and public relations, content creation, and social media management. While it may seem like you’re fighting an uphill battle, it is possible to have an effective marketing strategy on a budget; it just requires you to be more strategic with your spending.
Here are six essentials of an effective marketing strategy, regardless of whether you have a small budget or endless resources:
- Start with a clear value statement. Know the benefits of your product or service to customers and be able to communicate these clearly. Your entire marketing strategy hinges on your value statement. It lets prospects know who you are as a company and what your offering can do for them, and it sets your company apart from competitors.
- Know your audience and target them specifically. In order to effectively communicate with your ideal customers, you first have to understand who they are. Whether you are B2B or B2C, you are still always dealing with people. For this reason, you should create buyer personas, which are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on research and educated assumptions. Crafting these buyer personas will help you segment your contact database so you get the right content in front of the right people at the right times.
- Discover your customer’s journey. Getting the right content in front of the right contacts at the right time depends largely on where your prospects are in the customer journey. From the marketer’s perspective, this corresponds with the top half of the sales and marketing funnel. The needs of a prospect in the early stages of the customer journey will be markedly different from someone in the final, decision-making stage. Research and learn what types of information your average customer is looking for at each stage and have content prepared to address common queries, concerns, and gaps in knowledge. For example, when a prospect first learns about a new product category, it’s too soon to delve into your product’s distinguishing features. The prospect must first be educated about the general product category.
Guide prospects through this journey by providing them with helpful, engaging content to move them from one step to another down the path. Doing this effectively can mean the difference between turning a lead into a customer and a customer into a promoter, or losing both leads and customers to your competition. Timing plays a critical role in inbound and content marketing because these strategies are primarily content-driven and rely heavily on your understanding of the customer journey.
- Choose your communication channels. How will you communicate with prospects and customers? How will you regularly engage with them? Identify the digital and traditional communication channels through which you will communicate with your audience. Digital channels may include your company’s website, blog, social media platforms, and podcasts. Traditional channels include print advertisements, brochures, catalogs, direct mail, radio, and television.
For every communication channel you use, identify key performance indicators (KPIs) as metrics to help you set goals, track your progress, and measure the success of your campaigns. KPI tracking will provide you with insights into which channels are most effective for lead generation, which provide the greatest return on investment (ROI), and which need strategic and creative improvements to be effective.
- Develop content, content, and more content. Your content engine is the very heart of your marketing strategy. Regardless of what type of marketing you practice, it is extremely likely that content is at the center, from blog posts to eBooks and whitepapers to social media posts, videos, help documentation, and advertisements. Match your content needs to key junctures in your customer journey and strategically develop a sequence of effective content communications for each customer persona across channels. Doing so will answer key questions such as “Who needs to understand certain features and benefits?” and “How will these features improve the life/work of this persona?”
- Close the feedback loop. Sales and marketing teams are often at odds with one another. Although they have the same overall strategic goal to communicate the value of an offering to convert leads to customers, how they go about it and the tools they use are very different. A lack of insights and transparency leads to poor strategic alignment. Putting the systems in place to effectively close the feedback loop can help mitigate some of the communication mishaps that occur between sales and marketing teams. Feedback systems enable each team and individual to improve their own practices. Consider implementing routine team meetings or setting up an internal process of communicating updates on accounts to keep everyone on the same page.
Smart marketing plays a fundamental role in how customers find information, communicate, and make purchasing decisions. By using these tools effectively, your company can create significant opportunities to market in accordance with consumer behavior.
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