The one thing that gets every single entrepreneur in trouble:
“Not knowing how to go about your marketing strategy”
Dear entrepreneurs, a digital marketing strategy entails more than posting on social media.
And much, much more than running some ads on Facebook.
How you choose to address your marketing efforts will influence the trajectory of your business in SUCH a powerful way. Especially when you’re just starting out.
And when you think about it that way, questions like “Do I need a marketing strategy?” and “How should I go about my marketing strategy?” become heavier and the answers become much more interesting.
In this post, we’ll look at this problem from a few different angles so let’s jump to it!
A marketing strategy could mean different things for different businesses.
More than anything else it’s not about copying what others are doing. It’s a matter of uncovering what works for you, in your unique situation.
First of all, let’s define what a marketing strategy is. In a nutshell, it’s the overall approach and game plan a business adopts and puts into action to reach a target audience and acquire customers from that audience.
Now, in order for this game plan to work marketing-wise, it needs to sit on 5 foundational pillars:
- Your target audience and the ideal customer from that audience
- Your value proposition and how you differentiate from your competitors
- The marketing channels you use to communicate your messages, promote your business, and get customers
- The actions you take in those channels (aka the marketing tactics) to reach your goals
- The way you position yourself and communicate with your ideal customer throughout their buyer’s journey until they decide to purchase your product or service
These pillars complement each other to form a marketing flywheel, and they can’t function effectively one without the other.
Now, imagine a flywheel. As you experiment with different marketing tactics and get to know your ideal customer better, all these insights should go back into your marketing machine.
Through this continuous learning process, you improve your messaging and positioning with each iteration. This way, the marketing flywheel keeps on turning as you learn, implement, and analyze what works and what doesn’t.
Without a cohesive strategy in place to hold this together:
- You’ll spread too thin
- You’ll do random marketing here and there and the results will be as random
- You won’t know which way to go because you won’t have any direction
- You won’t tie your actions to a clear goal
- You’ll try to be everywhere and you’ll be nowhere in particular
- You’ll spend your budget and waste your time on things that don’t add up to something bigger
- You won’t know what and how to communicate to resonate with your audience
Now that we got this out of the way, let’s get a bit more tactical about the steps you need to take when developing your marketing strategy.
Why is this important? Because no two businesses are alike. Each business has its own model, audience, products, resources, constraints, vision, and so the strategy needs to stem from all that.
By copying what others are doing, you’re copying a model that wasn’t designed to work for you in the first place.
Best practices can serve as inspiration, but every decision you make should stem from your own experiments by adapting what you learn to your particular situation.
For a startup with no online presence, their marketing strategy could revolve around building their website and picking a couple of channels to start accelerating brand awareness and sales.
For a more established brand, this might mean refining their content and improving their conversion rates in different stages of the funnel.
Your marketing strategy will differ depending on where you’re at and should be anchored by:
- Your type of business
- The stage that you’re in
- The type of product you’re selling
- Your goals and what you want to achieve
- Your resources and constraints
- Your ideal customer and their needs and wants as the North Star for everything you do
Your business model and current challenges will tell you everything you need to know.
Now, let’s take some examples and do a quick exercise to better illustrate this.
You’re an early-stage startup, just starting out with marketing. You want to get some eyeballs on your product.
You have no traffic and no conversions, and you rely heavily on your personal network to grow at this point.
What should your marketing strategy look like?
First of all, you probably think you know everything there is to know about your target customer, but you’re wrong.
At this point, you need to build some sort of system into your product and marketing to start gathering customer feedback.
You want to learn more about their pain points, needs, wants, and behaviors as it relates to your product.
The most important step for you is getting people into the funnel to study their behavior, how they use your product, and where they get stuck. You want to learn as much as you can, and then map your funnels based on those insights.
I’d do the following:
Step 1 – I’d start by defining my target audience and who from my target audience would be an ideal user.
An ideal customer is that one person who is perfect for your product/service.
Then I’d do some research to find out more about their pains and needs.
There are so many ways you can learn about your audience:
- Researching what they post on different channels where they spend time online
- Going through online reviews they left to similar products
- Studying the questions they ask on Q&A sites and groups
- Doing customer interviews
- Conducting online surveys
Step 2 – Then, I’d work on my market positioning and how I’m different from all the other players. Why should my prospects choose me instead of my competitors? For starters ask yourself:
- What is unique about your business?
- What is interesting about how your business was founded, or about you as the founder?
- What problem is your company trying to solve, in a new and different way than any other player in the market?
- What inspired your business to exist?
- What AHA moments has your company had?
- What’s a new way to tell your story?
- What do you consider normal and boring that other people would think is new and cool?
- What’s your vision on how will you change the world around you?
STEP 3 – I’d then pick the most effective two channels (the low hanging fruit) where I can repeat my messages all over again and easily find my audience.
First, I’d look into channels where my audience is looking for solutions that my product solves. And where I can be competitive given my skills and resources.
For example, if I’m talented at writing and my audience spends time on Medium, that would definitely be a channel I’d consider pursuing.
As a rule of thumb, I’d try to find marketing channels at the intersection of these 3:
- Channels that my audience is using to search for solutions
- Channels where I can take advantage of my skills and expertise
- Channels that match my goals and resources.
I’d also make sure that I have all the mechanisms in place to get and collect feedback around their user experience and where they get stuck.
- Use Google Analytics to check the pages where they usually exit your website. Are there any issues they’re encountering?
- Use a heatmap tool like Hotjar that shows you what they do on your website. You can see what they click on, how far down the page they usually go, and how they move between categories.
- Add a survey on your website that asks them about their experience with your product.
There are so many different ways to do this. At first, don’t overcomplicate this process and don’t go down the rabbit hole over-analyzing all the data you get. Find the easiest way for you to collect some relevant feedback around your users’ behavior and use that.
STEP 4 – Next, I’d play to my strengths as I’ll most probably have very limited resources.
I’d pick channels and tactics that come naturally to me and that I can repeat easily over an extended period of time.
For example, if I’m not at all comfortable doing video and I don’t have the necessary resources to do video, then I won’t choose a video-based channel or video-based content to promote my business.
You get the idea. You’re in for the long run, so get ready for a marathon, not a sprint.
Let’s take another example.
You’re a more established brand with lots of brand awareness, and traffic is not a problem.
In fact, you have lots of it but unfortunately no conversions.
Here, you’d approach your marketing strategy very differently.
In this example, you get traffic and people know about your brand. BUT you’re having trouble convincing your visitors that:
- They need your product/service
- Your product will do what it claims it will do
- Your product is worth the price
- Your brand is trustworthy
You need to understand where your prospects get stuck, and their reasons for not converting.
All these are objections that interfere between your prospects and the actual sale.
These objections are almost always around fears and anxieties making us wonder whether the product can help us get the job done.
For each objection that your prospects might have, you need to think of solutions and counter-objections.
Your priority, in this example, is getting as many of your visitors to convert vs. driving more traffic as in the previous example.
So, your marketing strategy will focus more on improving the experience your visitors have on-site.
1. If your visitors are not yet convinced of why they’d need your product, then you might want to add your most important benefits on your homepage or product page and test different messages.
Or produce more content on the different product use cases and how different customer segments use it.
2. If your visitors aren’t confident that your product will meet their needs, then you might need to add more social proof elements to reduce their trust barriers.
These could be testimonials, case studies, or reviews from other customers.
Inertia and anxiety are your silent competitors. Your prospects want your product and hope it will make their lives better, but for some reason, the switch doesn’t happen. They get hung up on one little thing that blocks them from using your solution.
Your goal is figuring out what’s holding your customers back and solving that!
Let’s take one final example.
You’re getting a bit of traffic and some conversions, but there’s no compound growth.
This means you only get results whenever you do something specific. A good analogy might be: you only get water when you turn on the faucet. When you turn it off there’s no water.
Same with your marketing. You’re having trouble getting off the ground because you most likely rely on non-recurring marketing channels or one-time projects like a one-time advertorial on an industry publication, or a one-time influencer post about your product.
Those actions have brief results. Your advertorial or that influencer post would get easily buried by other posts and advertorials.
Or you rely too much on paid advertising, and when you finish the budget, your campaigns stop.
The solution is doing marketing actions that compound over time, like organic search.
With organic search, you start ranking with your industry keywords in Google. Then, whenever someone searches for them, you start showing up in search.
Content marketing is another great example of compound growth. Whenever someone searches for something they need or want to learn online, they discover your content when they need it.
This way, traffic coming from those searches compounds over time.
Ultimately, whatever your approach is, at some point you need to start thinking about what you can do to get that growth that compounds over time.
Your marketing strategy should be as unique as your own situation.
Follow this simple process before deciding which marketing route you’ll take:
- Evaluate your stage and your goals
- Are you just starting out and need to drive traffic to your business?
- Are you in the learning phase gathering behavioral feedback about your prospects?
- Are you trying to improve your conversion rates? The stage that you’re in and your goals and needs will dictate your marketing approach.
- Assess your resources. Think available budget, human resources, your skills and expertise doing certain marketing actions, the time needed to invest in doing those actions.
- Determine your constraints. Same as with your resources, these could be around time, seasonality, budgets, skills, human resources.
And then and only then you can shape the most suitable marketing approach for you.
However meta that might sound – be strategic about your marketing strategy! 🙂
Feel free to add your comments and questions below. I’d love to find out more about how you approach marketing for your business.