Marketing Strategy

Overcome Common Pitfalls and Create Effective Marketing

The Art of Winning Marketing Battles

Picture this – you invest time, energy, and resources in a marketing campaign, only to see it flatline. You’ve compiled piles of customer data, yet struggle to convert it into a useful strategy. Sound familiar?

Enter the STRATEGY framework, a practical, data-centric approach to crafting and implementing marketing strategies. It will take you by the hand, leading you through every step of the marketing process, from understanding your audience and setting clear objectives, to executing your plan with finesse and reviewing your results.

Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or just cutting your teeth in the industry, you’ll discover practical, innovative solutions to outmaneuver your marketing challenges and thrive in a market that’s as cut-throat as it is crowded.

Crafting a Winning Strategy

Consider a successful marketing campaign as an exhilarating expedition. Your meticulously charted strategy is your GPS, and your tactics are your trusty 4×4, carrying you to your destination.

You can’t have one without the other. Launching a campaign without a sturdy strategy is akin to setting sail in stormy seas without a compass. Especially in a digital world where consumers’ expectations are high, their patience is short, and their wallets have tightened post-COVID-19. Your campaigns must be well-timed, impactful, and echo your brand’s voice.

Look at brands like Apple and Google. Their names have become synonyms for innovation. Contrast that with Nokia, which lost its pole position and has been sidelined. The difference? Strategy.

The STRATEGY framework condenses this crucial concept into a practical, sequential approach. It stands for Scenario, Targets, Reach, Awareness, Tactics, Execution, Generate, and Yield – the vital organs of a marketing strategy. It’s your recipe for cooking up a marketing strategy that captivates and convinces.

Setting the Scene

The first step in your marketing mission is to secure a competitive edge. This begins with Scenario, the first element of the STRATEGY framework. Here, you survey the landscape in which your business operates, both internally and externally.

Use the SWOT model to get to grips with your internal environment. It stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Analyzing these aspects will illuminate the factors that may steer your strategic direction.

Next, grasp your external context using the PESTLE model, which takes into account Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental factors. A thorough understanding of these wider forces will arm you with the knowledge to shape your marketing strategy.

Take Nike’s 2018 decision to appoint Colin Kaepernick, a figurehead known for his protest against police violence towards Black Americans, as an example of successfully navigating the macro environment. Conversely, Pepsi’s ad featuring Kendall Jenner faced a backlash due to a lack of understanding of the social and political climate.

After the SWOT and PESTLE analyses, combine your findings into a cohesive summary. This consolidated view forms the backbone of your marketing strategy, smoothing the way for the next stages of your strategic voyage.

 

Aiming for the Bullseye

After laying the groundwork with the Scenario, the STRATEGY framework steers us towards Targets, where we carve out our objectives. Every good objective serves as a barometer for success or failure, creating a sense of focus for your team and stakeholders.

The SCALE model provides a helping hand here. The acronym encapsulates the essential traits of an objective: Strategic, Considered, Audience, Lift, and End.

Strategic objectives are clearly defined and purposeful. Whether you want to correct misinformation about your product or capture a new demographic, having a concrete goal is crucial.

Considered goals should be ambitious but grounded in reality. You might want to boost sales dramatically, but during an economic downturn, that may not be feasible.

Audience-oriented goals revolve around the people you’re crafting this strategy for. Always keep an eye on your campaign’s progress to ensure you’re attracting the right people.

The Lift element refers to breaking down your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) into manageable chunks. This could mean setting weekly or monthly targets for new leads, website visits, or conversions, keeping your strategy adaptable and dynamic.

Lastly, setting an End or deadline maintains focus and fosters a sense of urgency and momentum.

An example of the SCALE model in action was when the author set goals for writing her book. The Strategic goal was a 78,000-word marketing book, divided into monthly chapters over 39 weeks. The Considered goal was to write a realistic 2,000 words each weekend. The Audience was the first round of readers – a proofreader and marketing colleagues. The Lift was a weekly target of 2,000 words, and the End was set for the book launch in May 2021.

By deploying the SCALE framework, you can plot a path to your marketing objectives that is focused, achievable, and timely.

Understanding Your Customers

Next in the STRATEGY sequence is Reach, a vital step towards understanding your customers better. The more you know them, the more you can tailor your products and services to meet their needs, driving up conversions.

Ethical data collection techniques, such as questionnaires and preference centers, provide a transparent way to gather data. Pairing this with market research like focus groups, interviews, and surveys, or secondary data like trend reports and sales data, yields rich insights about your customers.

Another key factor is customer segmentation, where you break down your audience into smaller groups based on criteria like location, demographics, interests, and behaviors. This allows you to customize your marketing efforts to each segment’s unique needs, making your campaigns more effective.

Creating personas, or customer profiles, can help in this process. These fictional representations of potential customers include details like age, shopping habits, and interests. These personas can guide you in positioning your product or service in alignment with your customers’ preferences.

Lastly, keep a close eye on your competitors. Understand how they market themselves, and use this knowledge to identify opportunities to distinguish yourself in the market. This understanding helps to set your business apart.

Building Awareness

After understanding our customers, we step into the Awareness phase of the STRATEGY framework. This is where we focus on generating a response, reaching our audience, and delivering our message accurately.

The marketing mix, or the 7Ps – Product, Place, Price, Promotion, People, Process, and Physical Evidence – ensures a balanced marketing strategy.

Take Promotion, for example. It’s about communicating your product or service, its usage, and its benefits to the customer. You can use various marketing channels to spread your message, targeting a broad audience with media like radio and TV, and a narrower audience with email marketing and social media.

Another element, Process, refers to the systems and procedures customers experience when buying your product or service. This could be the transaction process on your website, the web design, or the customer service process. Consider Amazon Go’s supermarkets, where shoppers add items to their baskets using their smartphones and are automatically billed when leaving the store – an efficient process that saves customers time.

Remember to keep your target market at the center of your planning at every stage. This way, you ensure your efforts align with your audience’s needs.

Strategizing Tactics

Progressing through the STRATEGY framework, we now enter the Tactics stage, a critical juncture where we determine how to reach our target audience effectively. Here, it’s important to align your tactics with the values and needs of each audience segment to maximize the resonance and engagement of your messages.

First, let’s clarify the difference between a marketing channel and a tactic. A marketing channel is the pathway you use to promote your product or service—like social media, email marketing, or TV ads. A tactic, however, is how you leverage this chosen channel.

With countless marketing channels at your disposal, both digital and physical, let’s spotlight social media.

Nearly 3.8 billion people worldwide use social media, but usage and platform preferences can vary considerably among different audience segments. For example, Facebook boasts a monthly user base of 2.5 billion, predominantly males aged 25 to 34. In contrast, Pinterest, with 322 million monthly users, appeals largely to females aged 25 to 34. These stark differences underline the importance of choosing the right platform to reach the right audience.

One effective approach to capitalizing on social media is to collaborate with “micro-influencers.” These individuals may not have millions of followers but wield considerable influence within their niche. For instance, a parent with a popular blog among other parents can provide significant value to a brand targeting the same demographic.

So, always prioritize your target audience when selecting marketing tactics.

Executing the Plan

In the Execution phase of the STRATEGY framework, we look at the who, what, and when of implementing your comprehensive marketing strategy. It involves detailed planning of resources, budget, timing, and measuring approach for your KPIs.

A vital aspect to remember at this stage is consistency. If your messaging wavers in tone or style, it can lead to confusion and derail your marketing efforts. For instance, inconsistent messaging for Marks & Spencer clothing led to market confusion and underperformance.

Furthermore, it’s important to strategically roll out your tactics, keeping the customer journey in mind. The customer journey traces the steps a customer takes from identifying a problem to making a purchasing decision.

For example, if a customer’s car needs repair, she searches online for solutions, comes across a company, signs up for emails, compares this company to others, and finally opts for their services. Timely emails or notifications at each stage of this journey can influence her decision.

Appropriate KPIs can be invaluable at each phase of the customer journey. If your goal is to increase brand awareness, tactics like landing pages, email newsletters, or YouTube videos might be useful. Relevant KPIs could include email subscribers or content downloads.

As we collate these insights, we’re gradually constructing a holistic picture of a successful marketing strategy.

Producing Results

Reaching the Generate phase of the STRATEGY framework, it’s time to evaluate whether you’re on track to achieve your set objectives. This is where you seek constructive feedback, explore your results, and analyze the responses you’ve received.

It’s important to collect data from multiple channels. For example, website analytics can provide a wealth of information. Or you might track visits to unique URLs only accessible to those who’ve engaged with your offline marketing.

Suppose your goal was to increase sales for a specific product among a particular customer segment. Your benchmark would be revenue and the number of sales, compared to your original objective.

Also, examine the quality of your website traffic. Are visitors spending time on your website, or is the bounce rate uncomfortably high? A bounce rate above 40 percent signals the need for investigation.

To convert raw data into actionable insights, consider a four-step plan. Begin by defining your benchmark. Next, set objective KPIs, like conversion rate, engagement score, and click-through rate, to track performance. Ensure your performance measurement approach stays consistent over time, or document any changes made. Lastly, align your insights with your objectives to ensure your time and effort are invested rightly.

Remember, regular monitoring and performance measurement are critical. It empowers your marketing team to make quick adjustments when things don’t go according to plan.

Evaluating the Yield

The Yield phase marks the final chapter of the STRATEGY framework, focusing on outcome analysis and future learnings. The ultimate aim of any robust marketing strategy is to assess if the set objectives were met and to what extent. Key performance indicators (KPIs) and year-on-year (YOY) results are integral metrics to understand what strategies succeeded, which failed, and why.

Take, for example, British Gas. In 2013, the company invited its Twitter followers to question its customer services director about a recent 9.2 percent price rise. The campaign backfired spectacularly, leading to a surge of public outrage expressed via tweets. This PR fiasco could have been avoided had the company analyzed their audience’s past reactions to similar price increases, which might have predicted the negative response.

Returning to the Yield phase, a key part of a strategic evaluation approach involves comparing your data with your set goals. If the goal was to boost web traffic through SEO, your analysis should focus precisely on that. Each marketing channel has associated KPIs that can be explored to better comprehend their individual contributions to achieving the overall goal.

After comprehensive analysis, the next step is transforming these metrics into actionable plans. A post-campaign analysis (PCA) can be instrumental in this regard. It involves collecting visual examples of published content and advertisements, like screenshots of email marketing campaigns, and conducting a critical review. The aim is to honestly scrutinize what didn’t work or could have been more effective.

A PCA also involves answering three key questions: What strategies will you repeat? What will you change? And what will you stop doing? The answers to these questions will guide your future marketing strategies, ensuring continual learning, growth, and refinement of your approach based on real data and outcomes.

In Conclusion

An effective marketing strategy is pivotal to differentiate yourself in a crowded digital landscape. The STRATEGY framework offers guidance, encapsulating eight essential components: Scenario, Target, Reach, Awareness, Tactics, Execute, Generate, and Yield. Each phase encompasses specific steps like defining targets, understanding the audience, employing appropriate tactics, and evaluating results. These steps interact and build on each other to culminate in a successful strategy.

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