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Building, understanding and improving your marketing strategy

Julie Brook

Julie Brook

Posted on: 30/10/2018

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If you don’t have effective marketing, do you have a business? How will you build brand awareness and ensure business growth? And how will you hold on to your existing customers?

Marketing strategy is underpinned by marketing theory. It helps you to understand the marketing work your agencies, suppliers and staff are doing, and to grasp whether you are getting real ROI. Ultimately, it helps your business to survive and thrive.

In this quick guide we’ll highlight a few core areas of marketing:

1. Understanding your customer

Putting your customer first is fundamental. It generates the data that informs your strategy as a whole, and ensures repeat sales that deliver long-term profitability.

B2B businesses often have fewer transactions, but more long-term relationships with customers. It’s vital to build these relationships through collecting customer feedback and continued improvement of your operations. Customer profiling should be invested in as early as possible. You’ll then know who you’re selling to, and how to reach them. This enables you to base marketing campaigns upon clear data, and target customers with material to their interests – driving down cost per acquisition.

2. Branding

Customers build a strong association between your company’s offering and everything else about it: packaging, product and service, advertising, logos, and the impressions made by staff.

There’s a direct link between branding and profit. Manage your brand properly, and your company’s logo will call to mind what you stand for, how you do business, and the successes you’ve had. That’s brand awareness – and it’s what differentiates you from your competition.

To build a solid brand, produce three clear documents:
● Vision Statement: (Why it exists)
● Mission Statement: (What it does for customers)
● Brand Guidelines (How your brand looks and feels)

3. ROI

ROI is the specific goal to which marketing activities are directed.

To measure ROI, start with the return you want to see and work back to find the investment you have to make. Measure customer lifetime value – how much someone spends while doing business with you. Then, look back along the customer journey. How many leads did you have to generate per sale? How many contacts to generate leads? How did you make contacts? Now you have what cost you money – and an idea of what every blog post, or trade show is doing to move customers along your journey.

4. Budgeting

A marketing budget has to balance what you want to spend with what you want to achieve.

Most organisations start with a percentage, or a fixed amount, and then decide how to spend it. To really find the ideal marketing budget, you need to work backwards from the returns. What do you want to achieve, and how much is this going to cost?
This budget should be created through a dialogue between your whole executive team. It needs to express simple, measurable goals: how much each should cost, the metrics by which the goal will be measured, and defined responsibilities.

5. Planning

Your marketing plan acts as the navigation system for your business.

Marketing plans assess current market conditions and set strategic goals for the future (whilst staying flexible for opportunities and unforeseen circumstances).
Start with the baseline performance – an assessment of your current competitive position, resources and potential. This sets objectives, which then demand strategy and suggest tactics. Make sure that you have measurements in place for each goal to know you’re succeeding. Be aware that it takes time to produce a quality plan, and just as markets are never static, it must be a living document that’s checked and adjusted.

6. Lead generation

Leads are not the only end goal of marketing, but they are significant, and often misunderstood.

Sales and marketing often have conflicting definitions of what a lead is. To salespeople its someone on the edge of purchasing, for marketers, someone who has consented to be contacted. Understanding lead generation means reconciling these ideas and creating a customer journey. Marketing brings the contact in for sales – qualifying them in terms of business size, job role and engagement with marketing materials.
Start with data, get to know who knows you, and utilise that data to create campaigns and projects to target leads.

7. Aligning with sales (other teams)

Sales and marketing don’t always see eye to eye, but if they don’t work together, the whole business loses out.

Leads aren’t followed up properly, customers are alienated by a hard sell, and teams spend more time arguing than doing their job.

Aligning sales and marketing functions means “getting your people to see things the same way.” They need to understand shared definitions, values and processes. Having a third party step in to establish this can be beneficial, so marketing understands when sales think it’s worth becoming involved, and sales understand their role in the marketing process.

8. Customer retention

Existing customers are among the most profitable.

The probability of selling to an existing customer is between 60-70%, compared to 5-20% odds of converting a good prospect to a customer. However, existing customers move from appreciating a personal service to expecting it. They’re a repeat customer – they expect you to value them more. Customer retention is a matter of responding to this by regular, rewarding communication. Tailor contact by offering individually relevant messaging and deals. Ask follow-up questions about transactions, and encourage reviews and responses to measure customer satisfaction.

9. Communicate

Marketing plans should be executed with a strong grasp of communication channels, and data.

Communication channels are how you get your marketing message to potential customers. To decide which channels work best for your business, and create a consistent message that works across multiple types of media, you need a firm grasp of your contact and customer data.

Clean your data up, update it, store it securely and keep it under control. Use it to profile and create customer personas to sum up each market segment. This gives your team a clear idea of who they are, and how each ‘persona’ would like to be approached.

About the author

Julie Brook, Regional Director at The Marketing Centre

Julie is an experienced Marketing Director with a demonstrable track record in delivering ground breaking strategies and profitable results in large to small organisations. With over 27 years in marketing, creating new and developing existing branded or service offers and growth strategies in B2B and B2C organisations in brewing, drinks, food, hospitality, licensed retail and on-line retail. As a Regional Director she manages the team of Marketing Directors driving growth in ambitious businesses across the North West of England.

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