We’ve created marketing strategies for businesses of all sizes across the UK, and we’ve noticed there tends to be a few questions that we get asked on a regular basis. We know it can be difficult to know where to start when you’re thinking about strategy, so we’ve put together this list of our most common FAQs to give you a bit of a starting point.
Why do I need a marketing strategy?
The answer to this is simple, really. If you don’t market your business effectively, nobody knows about you, and you can’t get new customers if nobody knows you’re there. Marketing on an ad-hoc basis is better than no marketing at all, but if you’re not following a proper strategy it’s unlikely to be successful.
It might feel like it’s working at first, but ad-hoc marketing simply isn’t sustainable, and after a while you’ll find yourself stuck. Part of your strategy is reviewing and measuring your marketing and refining what you’re doing, so you can keep growing and growing. Without a strategy in place, you’re unlikely to get to where you want to be.
How far ahead should I plan?
We recommend initially putting together a set of short and long-term goals. Outline what you want to achieve in 1 month, 6 months, 12 months, 24 months and 60 months. This will help you to plan what you need to do and in what timeframe in order to achieve those goals. Then create a more detailed one-year plan. Outline what activity you’re going to complete and in which month you’re going to do it. Then, drill that down further, and plan each area of marketing for each month in detail, 3 months in advance.
What should I include in my marketing strategy?
We start with the Discovery session, which helps us to understand absolutely everything there is to know about your business. We recommend starting here too. Include your objectives, existing marketing, your USP, a SWOT analysis, and competitor research. It’s important to include all of this information, as it will inform the rest of your strategy.
Evaluate your existing branding. Conduct a full audit and research into your competitors branding. Pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of your brand, and include action points for improving. Do the same for your existing website.
Then look at the channels you plan to use to promote your business. These should be search marketing, social media, direct marketing, PR and media, advertising, and any other channel that may be suitable for your business. As with your branding and website, conduct a full audit of your current activity and your competitors activity in each channel.
Finally, include a section on reviewing and measuring, and how you’re going to achieve your ROI. Establish KPI’s for each of your marketing channels, and include your times marketing plan and Critical Success Factors for your marketing overall. All of this information will inform your marketing plan.
Which marketing channels should I use?
The short answer is the channels that allow you to reach your customers. Not every channel will work for your business so it’s important to understand which channels will work for you. As we said above, the main channels to consider are search marketing (SEO and PPC), social media, direct marketing (such as email and text marketing), PR and media, and advertising. There may also be other channels that would work for your business, like event marketing, networking or strategic partnerships.
Within each channel, you then need to decide which route you’re going to take. For example, search marketing can be broken into pay-per-click and search engine optimisation. SEO is reaching the top of Google organically but it can be a slow process. If time is a consideration, PPC may be a better route.
You also need to decide which social channels are best for you to use: we’d recommend two or three initially, which you can expand on if you have the capacity to do so. Essentially, you need to decide what will work best for your business and allow you to reach your customers, based on the Discovery session of your strategy and your buyer personas. Not every channel will work for your business so it’s important to understand which channels will work for you.
How do I know if my marketing is working?
It’s all about reviewing and measuring on a regular basis. You should have set KPIs for all of your marketing efforts, which you can measure your progress against. Then use analytics tools, which are built in to social media platforms and search engines, to assess how effective they’ve been. Each marketing channel has it’s own set of KPIs and tools that you can use to assess performance.
You might also like to use more traditional ways of evaluating your marketing, such as asking customers where they heard about you.
What’s a SWOT analysis and why do I need it?
The SWOT analysis is crucial to your marketing strategy. It stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. You need to list these out, and doing so will help you focus on your strengths, improve your weaknesses, minimise threats, and take advantages of the opportunities available to you. This will inform your marketing activity and help you establish the best way to utilise your channels.
I know what my marketing plan is. Why do I need to write it down?
Simply, because you’re more likely to follow your plan if it’s physically documented. Keeping it in your head means you might forget things, go off plan, or change objectives and targets on an ad-hoc basis. You’re held more accountable if it’s written down, and this will keep you focused. It’s also important to share your strategy with the relevant people in your company, and having a document is the easiest way to do this. It also means they can refer back to it when they need to, and make sure the activity is sticking to the plan.
Why can’t I write my strategy later, once my website is up?
Your strategy should be the very first thing you do, before you start creating your brand or building your website. Conducting audits, SWOT analysis, and competitor research will leave you with additional information that can shape your branding, or inform your website content. You don’t want to spend time and money building a website and then discover you’re missing some key elements that your competitors have included.
I already have a content marketing strategy. What’s the difference?
Your marketing strategy encompasses all areas of your marketing, including content marketing, search marketing, and all of the other channels you’re using. You should then also have a smaller strategy for each area of marketing. So you should have a content marketing strategy, a social media strategy, and search strategy, and so on.
Hopefully this blog has given you a good idea of where to start with your strategy, but if you’re still unsure, we’re happy to help. Get in touch with one of our strategy consultants today.