Marketing Without Strategy Gets Lower ROI
If your marketing efforts have resulted in lackluster results, it’s likely there was no marketing strategy behind your campaigns. Perhaps you inherited a set of marketing activities with which you simply continued. Maybe you made marketing decisions based on the advice of well-meaning, but singularly-focused vendors. Or, perhaps you just didn’t know how to create a marketing strategy. (Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s the most common challenge we see in small to mid-sized businesses.) In any case, your marketing plans can reap more rewards when a marketing strategy is behind them. Read on to learn how to get a marketing strategy powering your marketing efforts.
Great Strategy Requires Meticulous Execution To Succeed
Once we devise an integrated strategy, the daily efforts of writing, publishing, producing, designing, distributing, and analyzing the associated campaigns are where that strategy gets realized. While a good strategy provides a road map to improve your marketing business, you still have to get in the car and drive it from point A to point B every day. Strategy without execution is just a fantasy. And lackluster execution without attention to detail and a standard of excellence reflects poorly on your brand and won’t achieve your goals. Visit our execution pages to learn more about the types of marketing tactics we do.
As a strategic marketer, my approach is a deliberate, "ready-aim-fire" process. Too many companies use reactive, tactically-driven marketing that is costly and far less effective.
Marketing Strategy Vs. Marketing Tactics
Many people use the term “marketing strategy” when what they are really discussing are tactics. Tactics are things like social media, building a website, content marketing, SEO, newsletters, etc. So, they will say, “We are using a social media marketing strategy to achieve greater engagement.” The truth is, a tactic is an execution. It’s not a strategy.
What Is Marketing Strategy?
A marketing strategy is what guides your tactical decisions. It is a plan, informed by your business’s current situation, that allocates resources to best communicate your value to the right audience at the right time and in the right place. A good marketing strategy will make your marketing budget work harder for you and propel your business forward.
Marketing Situation Analysis
A situation analysis takes a deep dive into where your business sits right now in the marketplace. It examines your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (a SWOT analysis). It looks at your industry as a whole and the market forces currently influencing it. It can include a brand audit to delve into the difference between what your brand is conveying and what is being perceived. It often incorporates a competitor analysis which uncovers your top competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Done right, it will also include a target market analysis to unearth who your best customers are, and what is important to them.
The marketing situation analysis also has a strong analytics component. It includes a CRM analysis that unearths where your profit centers are (and other key metrics). A website analysis examines how people interact with your website and the AdWords analysis exposes how effective your AdWords campaigns are. And finally, an SEO analysis compares how your website compares to your competitors in search engine results.
When combined, these analyses uncover the opportunities you can leverage and weaknesses you can mitigate. They provide the framework from which you can make more strategic choices so that every dollar you spend is purposeful and tied to a specific, measurable goal.
Market research provides market intelligence. It uncovers valuable insights into your target markets’ beliefs, needs, desires, and fears. The better you understand your customer, the larger your competitive advantage. An investment in market research ensures that your marketing decisions are grounded in knowledge and a deep perception of your customers.
There are many types of market research studies. Every study begins with a research objective-- a question that needs to be answered. For example, before you begin marketing your software to Generation Z students and their parents, you need to know what their most pressing concerns are and what would motivate them to try your solution. Enter market research. A market research study can be designed to answer these questions so that you can market more effectively to these students and parents.
Sometimes you need to know how your audience will interact with your product before it goes to market. Product development research answers the big and small questions you have about your product as it intersects with users. Should the buttons be orange? Will users see the value immediately? How should the product be positioned in the marketplace? A little product development research can save you tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars by mitigating bad product decisions and informing better marketing decisions.
Customer satisfaction and loyalty analysis can garner key insights about your customers and why they buy from you that are critical to brand decisions. Imagine if you didn’t know that your customers love your chain of restaurants because the wait staff is always cheerful. You employ a new management style which lowers staff morale and suddenly your clientele is dropping off. The right market research study could have headed that off before it happened.
When a brand needs to be created or re-energized name, logo, and tagline testing are essential to ensure that the people who need to be persuaded by these brand elements indeed are. Market research is about making sure that your product, service, messaging or other brand element is doing and saying what you want it to in the eyes of your target markets. It is invaluable intelligence that is critical to making the right decisions. Making a bad decision can cost you so much more than a market research investment.
What questions are you trying to answer? Talk to us about market research.
You’re here because you have been marketing your company without any guiding strategy and you suspect there is a better approach. You have tried multiple channels--social media, SEO, newsletters, digital ads, etc. with mixed results. Without a strategy, your marketing is not producing the desired outcomes.
A good marketing strategy can power your efforts and earn a higher ROI on your spend. That’s the good news. The more difficult reality is that a truly effective marketing strategy takes time to formulate. It requires a thorough understanding of your goals and where your business sits in the marketplace today. That’s not quick, cheap or easy.
We work with companies who want to solve their most perplexing marketing challenges and formulate a long term strategy. You want real results, a vested collaborative partner, and long term strategic thinking. Talk to us about your most perplexing marketing problems. We love a challenge.
Every Marketing Strategy Is Unique
There is no one-size-fits-all in marketing strategies because they are crafted by understanding the entire situation in which your business currently sits. No two businesses are in the same situation, so marketing strategies are always unique.
To gain a thorough understanding of your business' situation requires a thorough 360-degree exploration into the landscape in which your business currently sits. A situation analysis is the best way to gather this kind of specific intelligence and it includes the seven components listed below.
A SWOT Analysis examines your company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats so that the strategy can mitigate your businesses' weaknesses and threats and leverage its' strengths and opportunities.
A Brand Audit unveils the difference between what you think your brand is communicating and how customers perceive your brand.
A Competitor Analysis reveals your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and locates the gaps in their marketing that you can use to your advantage.
Target Market Research
Target Market Research discovers who your target markets are, what is important to them, and the best ways to communicate with them.
Search Engine Optimization Analysis
A review of your Search Engine Optimization uncovers how your website ranks against competitors in search engine results.
Customer Data Analysis
An analysis of your Customer Data illuminates your profit centers, measures your customer lifetime value, (CLV) and other valuable metrics.
Website Data Analysis
A review of your Website Data (Google Analytics) reveals how people interact with your brand through your website.
A Marketing Strategy Is Only
As Good As the Execution
Once we devise an integrated marketing strategy, the daily efforts of writing, publishing, producing, designing, distributing, and analyzing the associated campaigns are where that strategy gets realized. While a good strategy provides a roadmap to improve marketing your business, you still have to get in the car and drive it from point A to point B every day. Strategy without execution is just a fantasy. And lackluster execution without attention to detail and a standard of excellence reflects poorly on your brand and won’t achieve your goals.
There is a lot of time and effort that goes into perfecting the process of marketing executions. We execute campaigns all day, every day. We have it down to an artful science. It requires keeping an eye on the big picture of your brand while taking care of the daily details. Contact us to talk about the marketing executions you need. We offer outsourced marketing for corporations.
The Right Fit
We are interested in working with companies who are looking for long-term solutions to build their business. As marketing executions are often ongoing, your company culture and ours should be a good match so that it’s a successful collaboration. Like you, we want to grow, but we also want customers who are the right fit for our solutions and our values.
Our company culture is critical to our success, so it’s imperative that our customers are great partners. Let’s start a conversation to see if we are a good fit.
Your messaging is a critical element of your branding because it forms the cognitive connections between your brand and your customer. It conveys your brand promise, what you stand for, who your target market is, why they should do business with you and a myriad of other ideas. Done well, your message will resonate with your target audience, make them form favorable perceptions of your product or service, and motivate them to do business with you. Done poorly, your messaging will repel your target market or worse, be completely unnoticed.
We create compelling, relevant brand messages because we rely on market research to inform our messaging decisions. We study not only what the audience wants and needs, but also how they express those desires. How the audience speaks--the words they use--are just as important as what they say. To cut through the competition’s messages and get your customer’s attention, you have to speak their language. We create those highly relevant messages because we do the critical groundwork of competitor analysis and target market research that uncovers those key insights.
Messaging GuidelinesJust as brand standards are the model for how the brand appears visually in all media, the messaging guidelines provide the blueprint for all brand messaging. The brand voice, value propositions, differentiators, primary messages, and secondary messages are spelled out in the guidelines and form the basis for all brand communication. Everything from the brand’s videos to social posts to brochures to email signatures should include the words from the messaging guidelines.
For the small to the mid-sized business owner, effective inbound marketing requires understanding your customers and their journey to purchase.
It is only when you examine both your customers and how they make purchase decisions that you can create content that speaks relevantly to them at each stage of their process.
We help companies examine their target markets’ path to purchase and then create a targeted content schedule to meet the prospects at the right time, in the right place, with the right answers.
Excellent Content Builds TrustFor the B2B customer, finding content that addresses their questions helps them feel better about their purchasing decisions. The agency that provides the answers to the buyers’ questions in a way that is compelling and relevant makes the brand distributing that content appear more credible and trustworthy.
Content StrategyGood content takes time and money, so don’t approach it haphazardly. Use a strategy ascertained through a thorough examination of the target markets and their purchase decision-making process. You have to understand who the target market is including their beliefs, fears, and motivations. You must appreciate their pain points, how they have tried to solve the problem in the past, the obstacles they have to purchase, and the people around them who influence their decisions. You then have to figure out all the steps the buyer takes between realizing they have a need and telling others about their purchase decision.
Map The Buyer's JourneyThe buyer’s journey includes all the steps the buyer takes to purchase. It can start with recognizing a need and end with recounting to other people how a purchase solved their problem. In between, there are many stages of the buyer’s route that correlate to the thought-process of the buyer.
Understand the entire path to purchase and create content that answers all the questions and concerns the buyer has along the way.
Content for Every Path to PurchaseBuyers can take many paths to purchase because everyone makes decisions in different ways. A good marketing agency will understand all the paths and create content for each avenue. This can take many forms including blogs, email, infographics, slide shows, videos--you name it. The content should be distributed in places that the target market is most likely to find it. It should be packaged in the ways in which the intended audience will most enjoy interacting with it. Below, you will find some of the ways content can be packaged.
PR / Earned Media
One of the ways your business or employees can be on the pages of blogs, magazines, and newspapers is by being quoted as an expert source. For example, let’s say your CEO is an engineer, inventor, and entrepreneur in the IT and communications industry. A local or national publication is doing a story on trends happening in the communications industry and they are looking for an expert source to discuss how these trends are affecting small businesses. Denver PR firm, Paige Black steps in and pitches your CEO to the publication so that they choose your CEO as the expert who is quoted in the story. Talk to us about becoming an expert source in the media.
Byline or Feature ArticleMore difficult to attain, but also more valuable is the feature story in the media about your company, products or services. Features have incalculable value because they bring more credibility to your brand. Consumers view stories in independent blogs, magazines, and newspapers as more trustworthy than advertising.
However, features only happen when the reporter is given a real news angle, not just some promotional copy about a company. We work to uncover what is relevant and newsworthy about your business, product, service or employees and pitch thoughtful story ideas to journalists. We can’t ever guarantee that a journalist will write about you and their editor will publish it, but we can promise that if you don’t have someone consistently pitching your stories to journalists, you will likely never garner a feature.
Keep in mind that what your company views as newsworthy ("We just released a new version of our widget!") is often not interesting to a reporter. They have an editor and an audience to please, so they are extremely sensitive to overly promotional pitches. We have years of experience with media and understand what journalists and bloggers want and how to package it so that they are more likely to write about your brand. Contact us to talk about getting your company featured in the media.
Branding isn’t a trend. It is a fundamental business practice that can inform your corporate initiatives, communications strategy, marketing strategy, and virtually every other business decision. Without a well-defined brand, you risk being irrelevant to the audience you are trying to appeal to.
Establishing a distinct brand differentiates your business from competitors and is more compelling to your audience. When customers have strong, positive, unique experiences they associate with your brand, they will come back for more and be willing to pay more for the interactions. A corporate branding package can help you build and retain customer loyalty that will increase your profits.
At Paige Black, we develop consumer-focused brands that communicate your value by telling customers what they will get when they engage with your brand. Whether you’re an established organization looking to re-brand, or a start-up, we offer packages that address the branding needs of businesses at any stage. Below, we outline the elements of a brand. These are all the areas in which we provide services. Want to talk about your brand?
Brand FoundationsOur branding packages often start with brand foundations. These include formulating the mission statement, vision statement, and core values of your company. Don’t underestimate the importance of these three foundational elements. They motivate, inspire, and keep you and your stakeholders on track.
If you can play the long game with SEO, you stand to gain the right customers for your business. We know that sometimes it can feel like any customer was a win. But, the wrong customer can cost you much more than any revenues earned from them. You want to get more customers who are like your best ones and stop attracting the customers who impede your success.
Having said that, it's time-consuming to research your industry, user intent, and keywords. It takes months to create quality content and get people to recognize that content as relevant and useful enough to link to it (resulting in backlinks to your site.) Often, it takes several months of consistent social media efforts to boost rankings. Combined, all of these activities (and others) can require significant time investments.
Add to this that Google and other search engines aren’t likely to scan your site every time you add some new content. They get to it when they get to it. And remember, your competitors are also doing SEO, which will also affect when you see the fruits of your labors. Bottom line: SEO often takes six to 12 months before you start to see results.
I start with your company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). Knowing them, I can build a marketing plan that mitigates weaknesses and threats and leverages your strengths and opportunities. You get marketing that integrates with your entire organization, getting you far more return on your investment.
As a strategic marketer, I use a deliberate, "ready-aim-fire" process. Many companies employ reactive, tactically-driven marketing that is costly and far less effective. My approach is informed by market research and rooted in best practices and continual measurement.
My Strategic Marketing Process
My three-step process is the best way to build a marketing system that produces consistent leads.
It's not quick or easy, so it's not for everyone. It is the only method that works consistently over time.
Our process is a flexible framework that adapts, evolves and responds to your needs. It is the streamlined result of two decades of website design and marketing for hundreds of clients.
Before you begin any journey, you need to decide where you want to go. You have to get the lay of the land and decide the best route to get you there. Marketing should be approached in the same considered, deliberate way.
Once you understand the topography you are in and the target you want to reach, only then can you decide the best means to cross the divide. Similarly, marketing decisions should be based on research and a thorough understanding of your current situation.
Measuring your progress along the route can give signals as to when you will arrive. So too in marketing, metrics give you valuable feedback so you can make adjustments and gain efficiencies.
There are many ways to carry out a marketing strategy. Listed below are the tactics we can execute to accomplish your strategic goals. These are best utilized as a part of a custom marketing system we devise, but we can also help you with any of them on their own.
The best way to lay the groundwork for a successful marketing program is to fully understand the environment in which you are marketing your product or service. Without this in-depth knowledge, you are guessing on which marketing initiatives to employ and hoping they will work. Guessing and hoping is time-consuming and expensive. There is a much better way to earn the trust of your ideal customers and get a higher return on your marketing investment. It starts with a marketing situation analysis and market research, and a written marketing strategy.
A situation analysis takes a 360° look at where your business sits right now in the marketplace. It examines the industry you are in as well as your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis). Often, it includes a brand audit to compare the gap between what your brand is communicating and how it is being perceived. A competitor analysis uncovers your top competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and the target market analysis reveals what is most important to your ideal customers.
Target Market Research
The better you understand your customers, and how they will interact with your product or services, the greater your competitive advantage. Our target market research identifies the critical aspects of your target markets. Product development research answers questions about how your product intersects with users. Customer satisfaction and loyalty analysis can garner insights about why customers buy from you. And name, logo, and tagline testing ensures that your brand elements have the desired effects.
A marketing strategy is a deliberate, written direction that guides your tactical decisions. (Tactics are things like SEO, social media, email marketing, digital advertising, etc.) It is a plan, informed by a thorough understanding of your business’s situation which delivers communication to the right audience at the right time and in the right place. A good marketing strategy will make your marketing spend more efficient and propel your business forward.
If you want to stretch your marketing budget, you have to measure each activity. And just as you write a detailed blueprint for your marketing tactics, you have to write a specific plan for measurement. It’s only in measuring and making smart adjustments that you can gain critical efficiencies. We create measurement plans that ensure the correct monitoring of efforts.
Key Performance Indicators
Measure your marketing performance with smart KPIs that reflect your company goals. We can choose metrics that are easy to quantify, and that are clear indicators of sales and sales-related activities. KPIs don't have to be rocket science; they just have to be good indicators of your marketing system's performance.
Marketing analytics refers to all the
platforms and systems marketers use to measure marketing performance. Benefits of using marketing analytics include identifying long-term trends, accurately measuring marketing ROI, and demonstrating marketing’s value to your organization with the numbers to back it up.