Every business, at least one some level, has a marketing strategy. That strategy could be as simple as an idea of what you should do in your head, or as complex as a long document that lays out all marketing channels and eventualities.
But what is your unique inbound marketing strategy? That question is much more difficult to answer. How do you establish a strategy that makes you stand out from your competition, while ensuring consistency and long-term success throughout? This 11 step process should help you get there.
1) Define Your Target Audience
Above all, you need to know who you want to target. You may have a general idea of who your ideal customers are, but formalizing this step will ultimately help in devising a strategy that sets your business apart from its competition by solving your audience's unique problems.
2) Analyze Your Competitors
Speaking of competition: to position yourself in your market, you should know just what spaces your competitors occupy. A competitive analysis can help you better understand the various options your potential customers have, and how you can set yourself apart.
3) Define Your Value Proposition
Based on the information gathered in the first two steps, establish a core value proposition - a single statement that summarizes the main benefit your brand provides to your customers. That benefit should be unique, differentiating yourself from your competitors.
4) Find Your Voice
A single statement describing the value of your brand is crucial to guide your marketing strategy. But you should also ensure that your brand's voice is both consistent and reflects that value proposition. As the digital experts at MarketingProfs point out,
The way a company writes is one of the most powerful ways to communicate its vision. When organizations write in a distinctive and consistent tone, people want to start—and keep—working with them.
How do you find your brand voice? This guide can help in the process.
5) Know Your Resources
The first four steps establish the qualitative parameters of your marketing campaign. At this point, you should have enough information to make make your unique and allow it to stand out from its competitors. But of course, an effective strategy does not stop there. Next, it's time to determine your exact resources available.
Naturally, a main resource to consider is budget. How much money you have available will play a major part in the types of marketing efforts in which you can engage. But don't underestimate other resources, such as time and personnel.
Especially small businesses may not have a dedicated marketing professional available, so time and expertise become a valuable resource. Early in your marketing strategy, define just how much budget, time, and expertise you have available, which will help guide the following steps.
6) Determine Your Goals
Setting overarching goals can be a dangerous trap, as it's easy to reach for the stars. Hopefully, the previous step enables you to set realistic and achievable goals in terms of where you want your brand to be as a result of your marketing efforts. This guide should further help you set your marketing goals.
7) Supplement with Objectives
Whereas goals give your marketing campaign direction, objectives are the minor stepping stones that help you get there. Effective objectives need to be measurable, and related to specific marketing efforts (more on that below). Consider them milestones on your way to an overarching goal.
Setting your goals and objectives can only be effective if you know your audience, your competitors, your goals, and your resources, which is why this step comes so late in the process. Everyone wants to grow, but doing so may be more difficult in a crowded competitive environment or with limited resources.
8) Establish Marketing Channels
Armed with objectives, you can begin to dig into the specifics of your marketing strategy: where you want to promote your brand. Again, this step plays a crucial part in ensuring your marketing strategy is unique: don't simply follow your competitors' marketing choices, but focus on channels that best match your audience and resources.
In inbound marketing, these channels typically range from email to social media and blogging. You may decide to stay within your comfort zone, and a network like Facebook that you already know. But don't be afraid to go into a less crowded and more focused environment when choosing your marketing channel.
9) Develop Sub-Strategies
Each marketing channel you choose - from social media and SEO to email and more traditional methods - needs its own strategy and goals. Your voice needs to be consistent across channels, but may need minor adjustments depending on whether you broadcast your brand on Google or Snapchat.
As a result, you should establish short, snapshot-like 'sub-strategies' that define your intentions in a given marketing channel at a glance. These strategies help you ensure that your overall strategy remains consistent while still being nimble enough to account for differing user behavior within different channels.
10) Create a Content Calendar
A crucial mechanism that holds your marketing strategy together and ensures its uniqueness is acontent calendar. Used correctly, this document allows you to plan and keep an overview of your individual marketing efforts, ensuring that everything you publish remains consistent and adheres to your strategy.
Depending on the format you use, you can even use a content calendar to ensure consistency in voice and progress toward goal achievement. And as every step in this process so far, it helps you remain unique by ensuring that you publish content connected to your value proposition and relevant to your target audience.
11) Build in Success Benchmarks
Finally, no marketing strategy could be complete without an evaluation mechanism. Without regular benchmarks that let you know whether your current efforts are working, you cannot know whether the resources you put into marketing actually carry a positive return on investment.
Benchmarks consist of regular 'check-ins' during which you measure your progress toward your goals and objectives. Depending on your criteria, you can even use them to measure the uniqueness of your campaign.
For example, one benchmark may be a second competitive analysis six months into your campaign, with your brand added to the mix. Creating a positional map helps you establish just where your brand stands in relation to its competitors, and where you could move it to create a more unique perception.
In short, your inbound marketing strategy plays a crucial part in ensuring a unique brand perception among your audience. The above steps can help you make sure it's both thought-out and unique, two important components of ensuring long-term inbound marketing success.
To define your unique inbound marketing strategy, give us a call or send us a note today at Small Dog Creative 661-702-1310!