Every 21st-century business hell-bent on making a name for itself in the competitive marketplace needs a strong marketing plan. There is no way around it, if you’re not online and utilizing the power of digital marketing to reach audiences across the globe, then you’re not doing a very good job as a business leader to begin with. Quite simply, if you don’t have a marketing plan, you might as well close shop.
Contrary to popular belief, though, a marketing plan is not just a pamphlet and a few Facebook posts telling people to visit your website – actually, it shouldn’t be that either. A comprehensive marketing strategy will require thorough planning and preparation and the use of creative thinking, meticulous research, and exact execution in terms of SEO and social media. Here’s what you need to know.
It all begins with a compelling brand
Branding is the first step towards a successful future in the business world on all fronts. That includes your marketing efforts. If marketing is the means to an end, i.e. disseminating your stories and reaching the hearts and minds of your demographic, then your brand is the story and visuals that will separate you from the rest of the competition. This is why building a brand should be your first priority.
You can start by crafting a set of values that will serve as the foundation on which you can create compelling visuals, messages, and eventually, stories that will carry your brand across the digital realm. But wait, before you start throwing clichés like “quality” or “innovation” around like biscuits at a dog party, just understand that the customer doesn’t care.
Really, you’re a modern brand, and quality and innovation are kind of expected of you. No, a truly inspiring brand identity boasts a set of values that people can relate to, and eventually become a part of on a deeper, meaningful level. So, focus on the emotional response you can get from your demographic rather than run-of-the-mill catchphrases that will quickly dissipate into the unknown.
Research the market like a pro
Market research is another crucial element of a winning marketing plan. After all, if you don’t research the demographic and your competition, you’re really just shooting in the dark and the only thing that’s bound to take a hit is your own reputation. Instead of throwing a wide net and hoping for the best, focus on the following steps:
- Market segmentation. The needs of your existing customers and your potential customers are not the same, and that means that they should fall into particular segments. You can segment your demographics in order to discover and address their needs better than the competition.
- Targeting and positioning. Identifying the needs of your demographics will allow you to tailor your product offering accordingly, and thus appeal to your most lucrative prospects. Be sure to match your strengths to the needs of your customers for a direct hit.
- Researching the competition. It’s pretty self-explanatory – find the top brands in your niche, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and try to improve on their offering.
- Define your ideal promotional tactics. There are numerous ways you can advertise in the online and offline realms, and you will need to invest in the right channels so be sure to find out where your ideal customers reside – it’s probably social media, though.
Budget your marketing strategy wisely
One of the most important elements of a winning marketing plan is finance management. Quite simply, marketing is expensive, and oftentimes entrepreneurs will take money out of their personal budgets and risk their own livelihood just to set a marketing plan into motion and get the word out – but that’s a risky move that might cost you way more than the initial investment.
Instead, you should keep your personal finances in check and even search for online loans that will help you preserve your livelihood through this period by allowing you to direct cash flow towards effectuating your marketing strategy. When you do secure the finances for your marketing plan, make sure that you invest in the right channels and methods of communication instead of wasting money on dead-ends.
Focus on crafting SEO-friendly content
SEO is the name of the digital marketing game, and if your entire online presence is not properly optimized, then you’re missing out. In fact, you might not even be on the online map. Rising from the abyss that is the second page of Google is not an easy task, but there is nothing that a little top-quality content can’t fix. Focus on:
- Crafting compelling content with the reader’s needs in mind.
- Crafting SEO-friendly content that will appeal to search engine algorithms.
- Crafting in-depth, data-driven content that will give real value to the reader.
- Being a storyteller and shifting focus from your products to resolving real problems your audience might be experiencing.
A parting word or two
Marketing is the driving force behind the success of every modern business, and it should be the essential part of your growth strategy. With these crucial steps in mind, you should have no problem rising to the top of the proverbial ladder, and ensuring long-term success for your brand in the competitive marketplace.