How Do I Create a Marketing Strategy?
An Well Executed Marketing Strategy can help you create impactful, long-term results.
A marketing strategy will help you understand how your marketing activities can support your business goals. And it will require much of the same information you used to determine what type of marketing you need. Let’s take a look at building marketing strategies in general and how you can create an inbound marketing strategy.
Table of Contents:
- A High-Level Plan: Marketing Strategy
- Creating an Inbound Marketing Strategy
- Should Your Marketing Strategy Include an Agency?
A High-Level Plan: Marketing Strategy
Although most marketing professionals readily agree on the definition of a marketing campaign – i.e. activities used to achieve a particular goal – the lines between marketing strategy and marketing plan tend to be a bit more blurred. To keep things clear, let’s say a marketing strategy consists of the following steps:
- Identifying your business goals.
- Creating marketing goals that support those business goals.
- Researching your market and determining your target audience. (These goals are all covered in the research we’ve already discussed in the Types of Marketing article.)
- Building customer profiles.
- Analyzing the competition.
- Determining which marketing channels, techniques, and strategies will support your goals.
After these steps have been completed, you can develop a marketing plan, which covers the details of how you’ll put these strategies into practice. However, we won’t spend a lot of time on this overview; this is all familiar stuff for business owners and marketing professionals. What you might be wondering now is “How can I create a strategy specifically for inbound marketing?”
Creating an Inbound Marketing Strategy
Creating an inbound marketing strategy requires you to tailor each set of marketing goals (and activities) to your audience’s stage.
In the attract stage, your audience is just learning about the problem or need that your company can fill; content in this stage is primarily educational. In the convert stage, you’re encouraging the lead to take action and partner with your business. In the close stage, you’re getting the details worked out and turning the lead into a customer; in the delight stage, you’re building customer engagement through great content and follow-up. However, for the purposes of this article, we’ll combine the last two stages into the nurture stage.
What do you need to do in each stage of an inbound marketing strategy?
- Perform a content audit. This means cataloging each piece of marketing content you have and seeing how it matches up with your business objectives, marketing goals, and (most importantly) your audience’s needs.
- Create targeted content. If there are gaps in your content, create new pieces that will align with your goals. It’s important to consider where your audience is likely to be looking for this information, e.g. on your website, in search results, on Facebook or LinkedIn, etc.
- Ensure content visibility. In other words, make sure your content is findable. This can include using tools like social media marketing and search engine optimization.
- Understand visitors' needs and goals. We’ve covered this repeatedly, but it is an essential ingredient to successful inbound marketing. Without a clear focus on your customers, it's all too easy to get caught up in your company’s needs – to the exclusion of what your audience wants.
- Create targeted content, part 2. At this point, your audience is looking for more detailed pieces, such as eBooks, white papers, demos, etc. Develop content that shows how your company can solve a specific problem.
- Have a clear Call to Action. Once the lead has consumed the content, make the next step clear. It can be contacting sales, calling for a free consultation, or even reading another piece of content. Without the call to action, the lead may lose momentum.
- Personalize. At this stage, you should know a fair amount about the contact: name, business, industry, preferred channels/communication methods, etc. Use this information to create tailored interactions that will make the person feel important to your company.
- Stay in touch. After the sale is made, mind your manners! Thank your new customer. Keep them informed about new products/features/offers. And include non-sales content that is valuable to the customer, such as free state-of-the-industry reports or newsletters.
- Create targeted content, part 3. Continue to create content that’s designed for existing customers: how-to’s, troubleshooting guides, explainer videos, etc. Listen to their feedback and share it with other customer-facing areas.
Should Your Marketing Strategy Include an Agency?
Developing an inbound marketing strategy is a lot of work, and it takes a diverse set of skills. What should you do if you don’t have all of these skills in-house? In our next article, we’ll discuss how you can overcome a skill gap and when it’s time to hire a marketing agency.
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