How to create a basic marketing strategy
If you’re looking to grow your small business and see explosive results in the months and years ahead, there’s something you need to focus on right now… goal setting and a marketing strategy.
Often we can be afraid to move forward for fear of going backwards – if you’ve found yourself feeling like nothing works in your online marketing efforts – let us tell you that you are not alone.
Or perhaps you have bursts of great things that work, and then you hit a dry period. You think you’ve found something good, but then it doesn’t work again. Sound familiar?
Let’s look at the definition of a strategy: a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim.
This means that when you map out exactly what you want to achieve, inclusive of your overall business aims and goals, you can create a plan that will help you execute and deliver the goods.
There is never a better time than NOW to put plans into place to see an end result. Whether we’re coming into the busiest time of the year, coming to the end of the year, starting a fresh year, or are halfway through – there is always a time to put a strategy in place. Without a plan how do you know where you are going?
It’s the same as if you were on holiday, stick Google Maps on and enter your destination. You don’t know the area or where you should be going, but the device will point you in the right direction and make sure that you get there. You can tweak the route or ‘recalculate’ if you need to, and you will still end up in the right place.
This is a great analogy for online marketing too. The digital world is a busy place, there’s so much constantly going on around us and we can get distracted with just one click. It’s easy to jump on your favourite social platform to check or post something and come away an hour later with nothing to show for your time. We know where we’re supposed to be going but without a clear plan of what to do, we can get lost very easily.
So, how do we get away from this and find the clear path?
5 steps to creating a basic marketing strategy:
1) Identify and Set Goals
2) Understand your audience
3) Communicate your USP
4) Select your tools
#1 – Identify and Set Goals
Your marketing goals should reflect the goals that you’ve laid out in your business goals. If you’ve not done this, take a step back and have a think on your overall business expectations first of all. When you know where your business should be heading, you’ll have an idea of the direction that you expect it to go in.
Using these goals as a foundation, identify how you can make them come to life through marketing. For example, if your business goal is to have £XXX of revenue by the end of the year, your marketing goal may be to increase sales by 10% each month.
Identify the target, create the goal.
#2 – Understand your audience
Are you marketing to the whole world, or to the people that need to hear your message? If you’re not clear on who you are targeting, then you’ll end up with a wishy-washy message that gets lost in translation.
Identify the people who you want to target – create a persona. You may have more than one persona, but each goal can be directed to a particular one. It’s a snapshot of who your ideal customer would be.
Here’s a closer look for example: “A woman between 30-45, who lives in the city, who loves to shop, is looking for an outfit for work”.
This is a clear and definitive picture of who we can target. From this we can get to know her a little, where she hangs out online, what types of people are in her network, where she might like to shop, what types of content works best…
Understand the ideal persona.
#3 – Communicate your USP
USP – unique selling proposition, or unique selling point. There is always going to be competition, whether you’re aware of it or not, so learn to love your USP and use this to get over and above the crowd.
What makes you stand out, what makes your product or service the perfect choice? Why should someone buy from you?
Knowing how to position yourself will become part of your secret weapon!
Be unique and authentic.
#4 – Select your marketing tools
Wow, this is a big one, with so many online marketing tools to choose from, you could easily get lost in just this point. So, do some research. It may take time, but it’s better to do it before hand rather than during or after.
How can you measure what you’re doing and how can you create a systemised approach to your marketing?
Do you have the right equipment to see what works and what doesn’t, can you measure each step along the way?
Can you find a marketing tool that makes life easier?
Different areas of the marketing process will require different tools, so think about planning, communication, execution and measuring. Can you combine any of these, do you want to pay for premium platforms or go for free versions?
Find the tools that work for your business.
#5 – Execute
Once you’ve got everything laid out – you’re sure on who your ideal customer is, you know what your goals are, you understand what sets you apart, and you have the correct tools to get started – now it’s time to put the factors together and formulate a plan of action. You should by now know which direction you’re heading in! You need to get SMART!
It’s time to take action, it’s time to put into practise everything you’ve collated together and plan out a way to bring it to life. This needs careful consideration. You could look at all your data and still not use it to create the perfect marketing plan (please don’t do this!) – instead, use all the research you have pulled together to start your marketing journey on the right track.
Take the necessary action steps to move forward
Organisation can be a great asset at times like these – and with our Yearly Social Media Planner you can be sure that you can track all your goals; weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly, all together. It even includes a calendar to map out your monthly content too. Something this simple can be extremely effective in helping you stay on focus throughout the year across your online marketing channels.
If you’ve read all this, know it’s something that you need for your business but simply don’t have the time, knowledge or skills to put it together, we can help! Schedule a free consultation to introduce yourself and let’s see how we can create a great marketing plan for your business.
In the meantime, feel free to download our FREE social media checklist “Don’t forget the basics” to make sure you’re ticking all the boxes 🙂
The holiday season may be the best time of year to look forward to but as a business owner do you find that your social media activity spikes just at the same time as you’re heading away from the office? It’s a typical scenario and often the busiest time of year when other team members are requesting time off too, you’re looking forward to spending time with the family – and you’re wondering how you’re going to keep up with your online marketing.
We know that social media doesn’t take a vacation, so how do you manage both sides of the coin and enjoy your holidays whilst knowing that your social channels are all up to date? Often when businesses are looking at what they can cut back on during the holiday season, marketing is one of the things that gets dropped. However your marketing is still a vital and essential part of any business and helps to keep the business sustained all year through. Dropping it can have bigger implications later on in the year.
Here’s our 7 tips on preparing for the holiday season
Get ready with a social media calendar, now!
This time of year means that there’s much more to juggle, so planning ahead makes perfect sense. Using a calendar will help to see what content needs to be created (it can be harder to visualise when it’s not written down or laid out in front of you).
We love our own Social Media Planner, it gives us the perfect space to plan ahead, to write in notes as we think of them and to organise and plan goals and targets. All of these come together to form part of your online marketing plan.
A calendar is also good for dates that you know are coming up, national awareness days, events that are important to your business and anything that you know is imminent. Put it on the calandar and once it’s all there, you can think about how it’s going to look and feel on your social channels.
Work with local businesses
It doesn’t have to all be about you and your business, if you know you’re stepping away from the office for a while, why not tap into someone else’s resources? You can promote or share stories from local businesses, charities & worthy causes, friends or family businesses. It’s a great way to involve your local community and for people to know that you care about what’s happening around you. It also helps with raising your profile in the community.
As we (should) know, social media marketing should not be all about self-promotion. People will get very bored very quickly and switch off – resulting in your audience diminishing. There is a way to keep content pumping through and keeping your audience engaged – with curated content. This means that you are sourcing relevant content that you can use on your channels that will give your followers extra resources to read, learn from, engage with and much more. Headline: You are not the only expert in your field! And there is no point in wasting time trying to compete all the time. Use industry experts to help your cause, to provide value to your customers and to give even more inspiration to the people engaging with your channels. You only have to go online to find relevant articles or images – plan and add these into your content calendar.
Here’s a great read from Buffer: How to Schedule Social Media Content for Next Week, Next Month, and Next Year
Get others involved
When you create content on the hoof and quickly, you’re doing all the work; the content, the image creation, the thought-process. However, if you get others involved, you may gain a different perspective, ideas and initiatives that could have great results for your marketing and for your business long-term. If you’ve got a team, ask them for ideas and thoughts on what they think your audience would like to see and hear. If you’re a solo business owner and do create all your own content, why not ask people that are interacting with your business what they would like to hear about. Alternatively, you could ask a friend or family member to take a look over your social profiles and to give you an idea or suggestion on what they think may be a good read.
Create a theme
A nice way to show that things may be a little different for a season is to create a theme and have everything during that time fall into that theme. Not only does it give a refreshed look and feel to your content, but it shows that you’re trying something new and changing your plan for that season. The summer can be the perfect time for a theme change: think sun / sea / sand and how you can brand your content around a summer emphasis.
This can be applied throughout the year at different holiday seasons, like Christmas or new year: a branded theme can run straight through all that you produce.
Run a competition or promotion
The last thing you want to happen is for your content to flop while you’re away and this is where a competition or promotion could be the perfect tool. Set up a promotion that will last through your time away, with the winner being announced after your return.
Competitions always generate engagement, so while your promotion is getting interaction, your page is also gaining in momentum and engagement. To take it one step further you could promote User Generated Content, this is of course free advertising and will help with generating content throughout your holiday season – Ask them to tag or share your content, if someone loves what they see, they will share it.
Schedule ahead for paid advertising
Paid advertising needs to have just as much care and attention that organic social media posts. If you’re looking at continuing in paid advertising during your time away from the office, ensure that you have your ads pre-approved prior to you going away. This means planning in advance and setting up Facebook Ads for example in plenty of time for them to go through the system. If tweaks need to be made, have you given yourself enough time to make the adjustments? If this is something that you’re not sure on, make sure you gain expert advice. You could waste a lot of money if you leave your paid advertising running without setting it up correctly to start with.
A holiday season needs to be enjoyed and looked forward to. It can be quite stressful to put everything in place to cover this time, but utilise all resources around you, tap into colleagues or friends and always do as much in advance as possible. Of course you will still need to engage with those who are interacting with your page but this is much easier to do from your mobile if everything else is set up and running automatically. (Or hire a VA to cover your engagements during this time)
What scheduling tool do we recommend? There are so many to choose from but for ease of use and costs effectiveness, we love Hootsuite. You can have up to three profiles with the free account and it’s very simple to use. If you’ve got any other scheduling tool suggestions, we’d love to hear them!
It’s also worth thinking about outsourcing your online marketing during busy seasons. Using a digital agency means that you can completely let go and know that your marketing is in good hands while you’re putting your feet up and taking some well-earned relaxation time. The time and energy it takes to plan and schedule everything in advance, being active on the channels while you’re away and ensuring that everything is working properly, can be balanced out by outsourcing to a reputable agency to cover it all for you. If you’d like to know more about working with an online marketing agency, we’d love to chat with you and discuss your options. Your business success is our success – and we’re here to make your marketing as smooth and effective as possible. Get in touch and let’s talk strategy.
In the meantime, why not download our Awareness Days calendar to put some of those engaging dates in your diary. It’s free to download 😊