For SMS and most especially start-ups, planning a marketing strategy can be demanding and the tactical execution all the more taxing. Strategic plans always seem to be a good idea, however, in reality, it had always been bypassed or received little to no attention by startup owners because they are focused on getting their products and services sold. But what they didn’t know is that not having a marketing strategy is a major mistake. Overlooking that will guarantee that time, money and energy spent will be wasted or the inefficient exercise of conceptualizing the strategy doesn’t generate the expected ROI. A quality marketing plan require time to develop may it be long-term or short-term plans, both are made to gain propositions.
So why is a marketing strategy important?
A marketing strategy delivers a much-needed roadmap for the company especially those in the fast-paced industry. Founders, employees, and investors should identify the best opportunities for their business and make sure that everyone knows what strategies will drive awareness, leads, and sales. At the same time, marketing strategy provides structure to a startup’s marketing since it provides focus and discipline. It also provides guidance on the timeline for each project or when things will and should happen. And it places everything in context so that key stakeholders see how marketing execution unfolds as an organized process.
Additionally, a marketing strategy provides a startup with the capacity to determine what to prioritize among all the tactical execution. The truth of the matter is, one of the biggest mistakes startups make is doing everything at the same time. A shotgun approach is to embrace and create newsletters, blogs, engage in social media, curate case studies, create webinars and videos all at the same time. They typically discover that none of these channels is performing well. This approach doesn’t work given that it spreads things too thin and everything will end mediocre rather than excellent.
The best practice that delivers growth is fueled by focusing on a single channel at a time. If you want to establish yourself in a particular channel to acquire high-quality customers massively, you need to focus on a particular channel. Make it one project at a time and to spend all your energy on a single milestone. Another approach which offers more latitude is to explore all their options and then decide how to prioritize the different channels. This exercise involves three steps: (1) list the potential channels to drive awareness, leads, and sales among others. This means involving everything that is possible, regardless of their potential. You should create a complete channel landscape to see the different options; (2) rank these channels based on relevant criteria. This should include people, finances, objectives, and expected ROI. It would be best to use quantifiable data such as marketing budgets and staff.
When you have already ranked your channels, segregate them into three buckets: now, soon and later. This will help you prioritize which project should be first. For instance, Now is right away to three months out. Soon is three to six months. And later is six months to two years.
After completing this exercise, your marketing becomes more manageable. This is because the channels have been divided and conquered, and it becomes easier for you to identify the marketing activities that will make an impact in either the long or short-term. At the same time, you can comfortably put aside channels with less exciting potential. This is a great way to establish a well-defined roadmap and focus your team on what needs to happen right away.
You should set S.M.A.R.T. marketing objectives so it is achievable, can determine the percentage of your market share, maximize cash flow or maintain profitability through market expansion. When you create a marketing strategy with a specific objective, you should also remain aware of one potential disadvantage. The said disadvantage is that you may have chosen the wrong objective. Even if you create a marketing strategy effectively but you have a wrong objective it can still take you in a harmful direction. For instance, example, if you endeavor to maintain profitability by expanding to new markets, you may find that you’d better off improving customer service to your existing markets so that you can improve your reputation.
Your marketing strategy should create an impression of your company so you should focus on promoting your brand and not much about the benefits of your specific product at the same time. The right strategy is to promote your product then your brand so any possibility of an ineffective product or service will not ruin your brand reputation.
Moreover, a marketing strategy doesn’t limited mean startups to experiment. When you think about it, marketing is a series of experiments. By this, it is crucial for you to create a marketing plan that lets you make calculated or educated guesses on what works. For instance, content marketing falls into the “now” bucket, however, it is okay to invest a little in Facebook advertising to learn and see if there is a potential opportunity.
Additionally, measuring result is another important aspect of marketing strategy. You determine what is working and what’s not working and helps you determine if a tactical revision or tweaks are necessary or another channel should be seriously explored. Measurement of marketing result should keep everyone honest and reveal if your marketing plan is working.
Any marketing strategy should allow you to measure effectiveness puts you at an advantage. You can continue an effective marketing strategy indefinitely if you have some way to measure how well it works. Thus, a marketing strategy should contain measurable objectives that offer you the advantage of continuing plans that work. Also, you can build effectiveness in your marketing strategy by expressing your objectives in terms of numbers. For instance, “we will increase sales by 30%” is effective and measurable.
Suffice it to say, marketing is a fluid and iterative process so it is imperative to create a marketing strategy that changes because of external competitive pressures, continued product updates or shifting consumer needs. As a result, a strategic marketing plan needs to be accommodating and flexible to reflect the current industry landscape.