Businesses are faced with challenges every day when planning campaigns for their brands. Between working hard to find the best ways to share content with your audience, bring in leads, and drive conversions, it’s easy to get lost in the details and forget the big picture of what you’re trying to achieve!
A marketing strategy plan is just that – a big picture. It can help you step back and look at how all your individual marketing actions work together, then guide all aspects of your marketing. What follows are comprehensive and simple steps on how to complete a marketing strategy plan for your brand!
What is a Marketing Strategy Plan?
A marketing strategy plan is a broad look at how a business approaches reaching its audience. Marketing strategy creates a birds-eye view of how a brand can engage with its audience and defines key elements such as the business’s value proposition and core brand messaging.
There are four components of a marketing strategy plan that should be taken into account: product (or service), price, place, and promotion.
Understanding how your business will approach these four elements is critical for your success.
If you have been getting by just fine without creating a formal marketing strategy up until this point: good for you!
However, this can be a risky approach, especially as marketing strategies, platforms, and methods evolve with the current times.
If search algorithms shift in the wrong direction, a new competitor steps into the arena, or if your audience catches onto a different trend, it can be difficult for you to adjust without a proper strategy on how to respond.
It may seem difficult or unnecessary, especially if you’re a small business. However, creating a marketing plan for busy and small business owners can take as little as 30 minutes!
Marketing Strategy vs Marketing Plan
You may be wondering, what’s the difference between a marketing strategy and a marketing plan? Aren’t those the same thing? In fact, they’re not!
A marketing strategy outlines how a company will achieve a particular goal. This includes the content, networking channels, software, and campaigns that will be used to achieve that goal. It also includes ways that the business will evaluate and track its progress and success.
Meanwhile, a marketing plan focuses on how your marketing strategy will be executed. It’s the foundation for how your business will achieve its goals. The difference can be better understood as big picture vs small picture. One cannot exist without the other.
Without a marketing plan, it will be more difficult to set your sights on your goals. Without a marketing strategy, it will be harder to execute your plans to achieve the goals you set.
Example: Strategy and Planning for a Fashion Brand
To better understand the difference and relationship between marketing strategy and marketing planning, a fashion brand is a good place to start.
Before the business can start working toward success, it needs to understand its goals and come up with an overarching marketing strategy for how to achieve them. The business needs to evaluate its audience and come up with concrete marketing plans to achieve those goals.
For example, the business may be in outdoor and hiking clothes. They can then identify their audience more specifically and come up with more specific goals.
After the business marketing plan is complete, the business can develop specific strategies to realize its vision. For example, they may decide that a content marketing campaign during the spring or winter will be effective because their customers may want to prepare for the warmer weather in the summertime.
They can measure their progress via metrics they set and adjust in response to market changes.
10 Steps to Plan Your Marketing Strategy
If you want to make an effective marketing strategy to form the foundation of how your business will achieve its goals, here is a comprehensive list of steps that will help you do just that!
1. Business Information
The first step in creating a marketing strategy is to know your brand. It’s essential for every business to acknowledge who they are, their mission, goals, methods, and unique selling points.
Part of this is a value proposition, what your business can deliver to your audience. This unique selling point is what will help you better understand what your goals should be and create the context for what you’re going to do to reach them.
2. Set and Analyze Goals
Business goals are objectives your team aims to achieve. Remember to distinguish short-term goals from long-term ones. Use SMART Goals to guide you through this process:
- Specific: clearly defined.
- Measurable: quantifiable and able to be recorded.
- Achievable: realistic and within your ability.
- Relevant: useful to your business and your audience.
- Time-bound: able to be achieved during a specific period of time.
3. Marketing Audit
This takes the first step of knowing yourself and takes it a step further. Where the first step of knowing your business was more about vision and your value proposition, your marketing audit is more about evaluating the status of your current marketing activities and the resources you have on hand right now!
Don’t throw out your past work, either! You can always learn from what you’ve done in the past. Look at what has worked and what hasn’t. Come up with ideas of what you can do better. Take a closer look as well at the people, knowledge, and tools that you have at your disposal as well.
4. Marketing Analysis
A marketing analysis involves understanding how you fit in an industry, your competitors, your audience, and other variables in the market. You can use a SWOT Analysis to help you evaluate this. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Understand how each of these applies to your brand and consider these aspects for your marketing strategy.
It’s important for you to do research into your competitors and see what they’re doing well, and what could be better.
This is also the stage of your planning process where you want to define your marketing channels. For example, you will need to choose which social media platforms make the most sense for your brand to focus on, based on where your audience most likely is.
5. Define KPIs
Keeping your marketing quantifiable and trackable involves setting specific metrics you want to track. These are called Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and are very important for you to keep track of over the course of your marketing. KPIs help you understand how close you are to achieving your goal. An example of a KPI might be website traffic or social follower count.
Every business needs to track relevant KPIs. In fact, KPIs are directly impacted by the objectives that have been defined by your business! It also involves asking ‘key performance questions about your marketing. For example:
- What is my end goal?
- How can I track my progress toward that goal over time?
- When will I achieve my goal?
6. Identify Your Target Audience and their Pain Points
Knowing your target audience is one of the most critical components of marketing. Instead of selecting an audience at random, think carefully about who would want to buy your product.
Do demographic research into this group to understand them more deeply and to learn about their interests. Some demographics you’ll probably want to know are age ranges, gender, geographical location, hobbies, and interests.
More importantly, you’ll need to identify their pain points. This is how you’ll help make their lives easier!
A pain point is a particular problem that your audience faces. Problems like these are opportunities for you to connect with your audience and give them exactly what they want and need.
There are a few types of pain points:
- Financial: your audience needs help managing, saving, or earning money.
- Productivity: people are looking for ways to help them stay more productive or save and manage time.
- Process: the people you are trying to reach are looking for a more efficient way of solving their problems.
- Support: your customers need support in finding what they need for themselves.
You can find pain points through several methods. Research can help, but it can only take you so far. Customer interviews are a great way to get better acquainted with the people you are trying to reach and understand their problems. Reviews of your business can also help you understand opportunities to improve and provide new or revised products and services.
7. Actions to Achieve Goals
Now that you’ve identified the pain points for your audience, it’s time to identify how you’ll solve their problems!
Once you have identified those problems, it’s crucial that you acknowledge what your business can provide to alleviate the issues your customers are experiencing. Create a list of actions you need to complete your strategy.
Consider all the tools you will need to complete these tasks. It’s also important that you consider who will be carrying out each task. Delegate effectively to ensure that your strategy is carried out efficiently.
8. Determine a Budget
A marketing budget is the cost of your marketing strategy plan. It’s the cost of achieving your goals. It may have sounded very challenging to create a marketing budget before you started this journey. However, now that you’ve gone through all the steps up until this point, it’s a lot easier! If you’ve been thorough about your goals and how you intend to achieve them, it’s much easier to quantify the cost.
There are a few important stages involved in determining your budget:
- Consider your income. This is the bottleneck of what you can afford. If your plan is out of the scope of your income, it’s time to reconsider the scale of your marketing strategy.
- Calculate the cost of each action you decided on from earlier in your plan. This will allow you to determine the grand total in the end.
- Recall what channels you chose to achieve your goals. Are there any costs associated with these channels?
- Keep track of your actual spending over the course of your plan. Include KPIs in your measurements to better identify and understand costs.
9. Implementation Times, Contributors, and Responsibilities
Before you jump into your marketing strategy process, make sure you consider when you will be putting specific parts of that plan into action. Implementation times are when you intend on executing certain actions of your strategy.
One of the best ways to do this is to keep a calendar of events and who will execute them. The people to who you delegate these tasks are contributors.
A useful tool that can help, aside from a calendar, is a Gantt chart. Similar to a calendar, this chart helps you visualize what each task is, when they begin and end, their duration, event overlap, who will execute each task, and when the larger project begins and ends.
10. Monitor and Report
You’ve done a lot of hard work up until this point and you’ve come a long way!
Your marketing strategy plan is underway, and you are set for success. The last cherry on top for your brand is to monitor and measure your progress.
This stage is essential for your continued growth because it can provide insightful data that will help you make decisions regarding your current and future marketing strategies. It also helps you pivot when necessary to react to changes in the market or your audience’s interests.
Main Types of Marketing Strategies
Marketing strategies are critical for every business to ensure that its goals are being met and that its results are being monitored and recorded.
It’s a good idea to consider marketing strategies specifically developed to strengthen a particular aspect of your marketing.
Some of the most popular types of specific marketing strategies are brand positioning strategies, content strategies, social media strategies, email marketing strategies, and paid media strategies.
Brand Positioning Strategy
This strategy focuses chiefly on furthering the voice and image of your business. The advantages of this strategy are that it can actively influence your business’s reputation with your audience, influencing their viewpoint on your brand.
This is all about connecting your unique value with your audience at every aspect of your funnel. This allows you to strategically create meaning in the mind of your audience when they see your brand.
A content strategy involves creating and distributing content that advances your marketing goals. This is one of the best ways to boost your digital marketing.
Potential customers use search engines every day, and this strategy allows you to leverage your content to attract and convert these potential customers. One of the key elements of this strategy is creating relevant content. It could be in the form of videos, blogs, infographics, podcasts, white papers, webinars, or eBooks. Whatever your content is, think critically about how it can benefit your business strategy.
Social Media Strategy
A social media strategy focuses on marketing to users on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and more.
A critical component of successful social media strategies is that they outline the content that can be shared across multiple social media channels. Successful plans also take into account how the branch should interact with its audience. This makes it much easier to manage multiple social media profiles! Another important aspect of social media strategy is that it gives people access to information about your brand that they find relevant.
This gives them the opportunity to share that information on social media with friends and family. This can help you attract even more customers!
Email Marketing Strategy
An email marketing strategy focuses on converting potential customers into email subscribers. Once users turn into subscribers, the brand can regularly distribute emails that drive customers and potential customers to the brand to make purchases.
This can be especially effective to keep people coming back for additional purchases by suggesting new content. Email is convenient, and this encourages recipient engagement. It’s also possible to use workflow automation to schedule personalized emails for each client.
Email marketing strategies can also generate a great return on investment.
Paid Media Strategy
A paid media strategy is all about buying advertising online. There are a lot of different kinds of paid media that are available for marketing. For example, there are social media ads, display ads, video ads, pop-ups, paid search results, and many other kinds of promoted media.
Paid media is particularly great at boosting traffic, clicks, and brand awareness!
Now that you know how to create a business marketing strategy, you’re ready to get out there and make one! Always remember that it’s incredibly important to always follow each of the steps covered in this guide when creating your plans.
Every step plays a critical role in creating your marketing strategy. If you follow each step, have great attention to detail, and have clear and well-defined goals, you’ll be able to better drive more conversions and achieve a better return on investment.
One way to make this entire process easier is to use an app like Tailwind that can help you create and schedule content across your most-used platforms, including email! Best of all, you can use many of our great features for free with our forever-free plan!