When clients come to our digital agency seeking digital marketing services, they often start the conversation asking how much they should spend or stating that they have a certain budget they want to put towards a specific marketing channel (such as paid media or SEO). Each and every time this occurs, we always say the same thing: you can't just dive into marketing without a well thought-out marketing strategy.
Without a strategy, there is no roadmap, there is no outline for tasks, and there is no indication of what the milestones and timeline should be. Most importantly, without a strategy it is difficult to determine if the results produced are good, bad, or average.
To improve effectiveness, crafting a marketing strategy prior to beginning your digital marketing campaigns is essential for several reasons:
1. A strong strategy will help you identify your customer base, where you can locate them, and what type of creative initiatives could allow you to reach them most efficiently. Some target audiences might be best marketed with a compelling PPC campaign, while others might be more likely to engage with a social media campaign.
2. How much should you expect to spend per lead? A strategy will help to identify this for you, allowing you to define milestone costs and the allocation of budgets.
3. Today, omni-channel marketing campaigns are critical for digital growth. A marketing strategy helps you make sure that all of your digital marketing channels align and complement one another. Whether its content marketing or paid digital ads, the right strategy will confirm that all channels work together to produce a greater result than if they were independently activated.
A lot of digital marketing agencies have a proven process that they follow when executing a marketing strategy. Below we've listed the 5 step marketing strategy process that our team at Blue Fountain Media follows.
These guidelines, as briefly detailed below, enable us to understand client needs and determine an effective approach for achieving objectives.
1. Kick Off
The first step to an effective marketing strategy is about identifying goals and objectives. Reviewing relevant materials about the organization at hand allows us create a cohesive project brief, as well as a timeline for any deliverable items. Whether it's an existing organization that needs a refreshed marketing plan to re-engage their audience, or a new brand that is looking for some direction on where to begin with marketing, the initial phases are essential for appropriately understanding the overall project.
Next up is the research and analysis phase. During this time we typically audit the industry landscape to deepen our understanding and look at cultural trends that are related to customers and to the brand itself. This allows us to define the right target audience and lets us discover what the real value preposition is that the client should be conveying. Understanding what your customers need from your brand is essential to the strategic process.
3. Engagement Plan
The third phase is for engagement planning. During this period of time we determine how we can best communicate, connect, and engage with the right audience at the right time with the best tactics. During this step of the process, we craft compelling messaging that is tailored to unique audience needs and make recommendations on what marketing channels are going to be the best to communicate those messages. At this point, there is a thorough understanding of the company and objectives, so our team is able to define KPIs (key performance indicators) which tell us how the brand will measure if the efforts are a success or not.
Once the proper foundation has been laid, we enter the creative concept development period. Campaign concepts are crafted, and campaign creatives are developed. With each and every piece of creative, the ultimate goals of your organization, as well as the individual needs of your users, are kept top of mind so that all efforts do not fall short in terms of effectively serving their purpose.
5. Activation Plan
The last phase of the marketing strategy process is about planning for activation. Recommendations are made for budget allocation, media plans are developed, and a timeline for the execution of all initiatives is presented. For both new and existing organizations, a refreshed strategy is often what is needed to take a business to the next level in terms of growth.
Implementing a Marketing Strategy for Your Brand
A weak digital presence can significantly hinder the progress of your brand online. Without a well-thought out marketing strategy to support your initiatives, there is a good chance that your efforts won't help your brand to meet objectives.
Whether your brand is a new organization in your respective space, or if your company has been around for many years, in order to improve the effectiveness of any marketing channel, you need a strategic approach. From a refreshed brand image to a complete shift in the nature of your business, a strategy can be the roadmap that your company needs in order to accomplish its goals. Once you have outlined your strategy and developed a plan for how to achieve these goals, your time and efforts will be much more productive than if you were to implement tactics without the proper foundation.