What Makes a Good Marketing Strategy?

Let’s begin with an answer to the question “What is marketing strategy?’. This popular expression tends to be mistaken with promotion or advertising strategy. Marketing strategy shows how you’re going to use your 4 Ps – product, promotion, price and place, to improve your business results. Your marketing strategy should answer these 4 questions: what you are going to sell, how you are going to price it, where potential customers will be able to find your products and how you are going to promote it. On the top of that, it should contain goals you want to achieve so that you’re able to see how effective your strategy is.

So how to build a good marketing strategy? I’ll walk you through all 4 elements of marketing mix, show you best practices and give a few tips. Following these guidelines will help you create a strong and effective marketing strategy with little effort.

4 Ps

1. Product

The first step is to define your product (or services). What do you sell? If you’ve been around for some time, look at the structure of your revenue. What do people buy the most frequently? Pareto rule probably works well and 20% of products secure 80% of revenue. Identifying them will help you promote them better.

Also, you can consider adding new products. Doing it blindly can be dangerous, this is why you can ask your visitors or customer what they would like you to offer.

Tip: take a look at this case study to learn how RaveNectar used surveys to find out what visitors want him to sell.

2. Price

Now you know what you’re selling. How to set prices to maximize your profit? Some would say ‘Rise prices – you will grow your margins!’, some would say ‘Cut prices – you will attract more customers!’. I won’t tell you which solution is the best for you. What you should do to find it out is to test. You can raise or cut prices of some products by a few percent and observe what happens.

It’s more difficult when you’re about to start a new business – you don’t have data to compare. What you can do is to analyze pricing strategies of your competitors and conduct a small market research.

Tip: if you want to know more about setting prices, take a look at this guide based on experience with pricing experiments. 

3. Place

How are you going to reach buyers? It’s a tough question even for brick and mortar stores – there are hundreds of ways you can arrange products on shelves, you can even consider going online. You can also sell your products in your own store or offer it to resellers. There are many options you to consider.

If you already sell products in your online store, you can consider selling products on platforms like eBay or Amazon to reach even more customers.

4.Promotion

Products rarely sell themselves and promotion is a key to a successful business. You can offer great products for low prices in a fantastic store but you will quickly go broke if you have 0 customers. This can be the most complicated issue due to a number of possible options. You can advertise your business on social media, run AdWords or display campaigns, try marketing or content marketing, retargeting and a number of other online marketing techniques. On the top of that, there are all the techniques of offline and local marketing you can consider.

Tip: you can look for inspiration here

To make your marketing strategy strong, you should focus on all points because only then they will fulfill each other. Example: cutting prices won’t bring satisfying results if you don’t promote discounts. On the other hand, raising prices won’t help neither if you don’t upgrade your store or a website to make it look more high-end or offer additional services.

Don’t forget about setting goals

Before you implement your marketing strategy, think about metrics you will use to track progress. It can be profit, revenue, a number of sold items or any other metric that will clearly show your progress. The next step is to prepare a detailed action plan. What and when are you going to do and what are the expected results? To make planning easier, you can use a technique of setting SMART goals. It means they should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bounding. More on this topic and a free template

After implementing your marketing strategy, keep track of your progress. Did you want to double your revenue in 12 months but after 6 months there’s only 10% increase? Then you should go back to sketching board. Check which actions brought expected results and which didn’t work. Then think why it happened and how you can improve your performance. Implementing results of such analysis can lead you to significant gains and thus make goals more likely to be achieved.

 

Lucjan Kierczak headshot 150x150Lucjan Kierczak is an inbound marketer at Survicate– an app that makes collecting feedback from customers easy and quick. Collected answers will show you what your visitors expect from you, what problems they face or what’s preventing them from buying. You can find Lucjan on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Is Remarketing the New Free?

remarketing

Let’s face it, we’ve become increasingly numb to the lead capture bait for email address exchange. In fact, I think it’s become so bad that while people still sign up for the free thing, they often don’t even bother to download, rarely if ever actually read it or watch it, and unfortunately, don’t represent the opportunity for marketers that they once did.

The bar for starting a relationship with a prospect has evolved, and the stakes are higher.

Today, we have to create awareness before a prospect understands they have a problem or certainly before they are seeking a transformation.

In my opinion, this is still done by offering the right content, in the right context, but with the right delivery mechanism.

Creating awareness through targeted content

People still want to find answers to their challenges and will probably always seek information in many forms. Smart marketers are grouping and personalizing content by specific category or problem-solving advice and offering that content without strings in targeted advertising environments such as Facebook.

The content may be a short video or series of video, a group of blog posts or even a series of templates and checklists.

The key is that this is bite-sized, useful, easy to access and easy to consume. It’s the start of a relationship without commitment.

Building trust before the ask

So, how does totally free content create a lead? It does so by giving and giving and giving before asking anything. High-quality content without strings attached builds trust and authority – two of the primary objectives of all marketing today.

The key to making this work as lead generation tactic is something called remarketing or retargeting.

Now, you may be familiar with retargeting if you’ve ever reviewed a product you were researching online.

A few years ago I wanted to get standup desk and looked around at a variety of products before finally settling on one made by Varidesk.

I did my research one day and visited the manufacture’s site and sure enough everywhere else I went I started seeing ads for Varidesk.

In fact, even after I had purchased the desk from Amazon I continued to see the ads on many news type sites I visited.

This is retargeting not so much at its finest.

Or perhaps you downloaded a free report on a site and when you returned to get the next one in the series they already knew your name and email and automatically completed it in the form. This is another type of very useful retargeting in a way.

Essentially what retargeting involves is placing a cookie on a visitor’s browser that indicates they have come to your site. This cookie then allows ad networks to show certain ads when you visit one of their sites.

Many people dislike this technology, and you can manage it by changing your privacy settings to disable it. Of course, a lot of things you do like, such as a website you frequent remembering your settings is activated using this same approach.

One of the more effective ways to use retargeting in a gentle lead nurturing sense is by using Facebook’s retargeting tool.

You simply run sponsored ads at highly targeted, useful content or a series of content and let Facebook tell you who visits and consumes the content. Once this mechanism is in place, you can start building custom audiences of the people that visited your free content with the knowledge that they may indeed be interested in a more substantial version of the content in exchange for an email address or opt-in.

This approach, while requiring more patience, opens up a much larger potential audience and will likely make your list conversions triple or quadruple.

Here’s a nice little tutorial on Facebook retargeting from Social Media Examiner

And another, more technical one from WPCurve with specifics for WordPress users

And, you might want to look for retargeting services outside of the Facebook walls, so take a look at PerfectAudience for a super easy approach or one of the pioneers of retargeting, AdRoll.

Hyper segmentation for relationship building

One of the beautiful things about this approach is that it not only allows you to nurture people who visit your website, but it also allows you to create segmented campaigns for people based on what they visited.

For example, I attract many small business owners who are interested in tips and tactics for growing their business, but I also serve a growing network of independent marketing consultants who are interested in ways to grow a more profitable practice and serve more customers.

Using a retargeting approach, I can create a highly personalized experience for these radically different audiences based on an understanding of the content they visited.

Now, understand that this approach is certainly not limited to Facebook – Facebook just offers a nice way to use it to build awareness and trust.

This is essentially the same technology that powers inbound marketing tools such as Hubspot or many CRM and marketing automation tools. It’s the same technology that powers many of the more sophisticated lead tracking tools such as ClickMagick or Kissmetrics.

The real lesson in this is that marketers today must understand that as brands big and small continue to take advantage of the technology to serve more personalized, useful and relevant experiences the more our prospects will come to hunger for and expect the same from any business they engage – whether they know it or not.

7 Steps For An Effective Social Media Marketing Plan

Marketing Plan

photo credit: pixabay

With 2016 under way, one thing is clear: social media is now a vital marketing channel for businesses of all sizes. The common question a few years ago, “why should our business use social media?”, is now being replaced with, “how can our business grow with social media marketing?”.

As a social media marketer, this makes me very excited. What doesn’t make me excited is how many businesses are still trying to market on social media without a documented strategy. In this post you will learn the seven steps your business must take to create an effective social media marketing strategy.

Step 1: Audit Your Current Social Presence

“Know thyself. Know the customer. Innovate.” – Beth Comstock

Before you strategize about where you are headed, take a quick look at where you are. A few areas to consider when auditing your business’s social media presence are:

  • Which networks are you currently active on
  • Are your networks optimized (photo and cover images, bio, URL, etc.)
  • Which networks are currently bringing you the most value
  • How do your profiles compare to your competitors’ profiles

Step 2: Document Who Your Ideal Customer Is

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” – Peter Drucker

You will want to get as specific as possible with this part. For example, if you identified your target market as parents it would be ok. However, if you identify your ideal customer as a parent that lives in the United States, is between 30 and 50 years of age, earns over $70,000, primarily uses Facebook and has an interest in outdoors activities you will have much more success.

Even the best marketers will fail if they are marketing to the wrong audience. Answer the following questions to help you come up with a highly focused buyer persona:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Job Title
  • Income
  • Pain Points (that your business can solve)
  • Most Used Social Network

Step 3: Create A Social Media Mission Statement

“What makes you weird, makes you unique and therefore makes you stand out.” – Dan Schawbel

Your social media mission statement will drive your future actions, so make sure you put some thought into it. This statement will make it clear exactly what you plan to use your social media presence for and should reflect your brand identity. Keep in mind your ideal customer when trying to create this statement.

An example mission statement might be “to use social media to educate current and potential customers about digital marketing, with a focus on social media marketing.” Once you have this statement documented, it will make it simple for you to decide what to share and create.

If it doesn’t align with your mission statement, forget about it. Businesses that post randomly without a guiding mission will fail. People follow experts, not generalists.

Step 4: Identify Key Success Metrics

“If you cannot measure it you cannot improve it.” – Lord Kelvin

How will you determine if your social media marketing efforts are successful? I am not just talking about gaining more followers, I am talking about making money. Afterall, it is hard to rationalize spending time and money on something that isn’t improving the bottom line.

A few metrics to consider measuring are:

  • Conversion Rate
  • Time Spent on Website
  • Reach
  • Brand Mentions
  • Sentiment
  • Total Shares

Step 5: Create and Curate Engaging Content

“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet.” – Bill Gates

Sadly, many businesses jump straight to this step. Hopefully this post has made it clear that there are several vital steps that you must take before you start creating and curating engaging content to share on your social media channels.

Let’s now discuss the fun part, posting to social media. You know who your ideal customer is and you used that information to create your social media mission statement. Armed with this information it should be easy for you to begin creating and curating content. So, what exactly is considered content? Here are a few examples of content you could create:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Blog Posts
  • Company News
  • Infographics
  • eBooks
  • Interviews

The list of content ideas goes on and on, but make sure you focus only on forms of content that align with your mission statement, as well as your skill set. Content is what fuels social media, so it is crucial that you consider creating high quality, engaging content as a top priority.

I strongly recommend that you create a content calendar that outlines how often you will post to each network, which topics you will share and when you will share them.

Step 6: Invest In a Social Media Management Tool

“We live in times in which ordinary people can do amazing things using the right tools”

Most marketers have a secret, they leverage tools to boost their productivity. Ok, maybe it isn’t a secret, but without tools marketers would face constant burnout (many do even with tools). When it comes to social media, having a social media management tool allows you to scale your efforts with ease.

One of the main benefits of a social media management tool is the ability to schedule posts ahead of time. Remember that content calendar you created? Make sure your scheduled posts in your social media management tool align with your content calendar.

Step 7: Track, Analyze, Optimize

“If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything.” – Ronald Coase

This may be the most important step when it comes to succeeding on social media. Even the best social media marketers rely on trial and error. It might seem basic, but tracking your results, analyzing the data and then making tweaks to optimize them is crucial.

Each previous step should be re-evaluated after you have had time to analyze the results of your marketing efforts. Let the data drive you. If it is telling you Facebook or Twitter is your most effective channel, consider doubling down.

A great social media strategy is never set in stone. It is a constant work in progress that changes when necessary. So get out there, create a strategy and start optimizing it as you continue to grow and learn more about your business and your audience.

 

Xavier Davis HeadshotXavier Davis is a Digital Marketing Specialist at eClincher, an easy to use social media management tool. When he isn’t crafting killer digital marketing campaigns, he can be found reading, writing and hiking. If you have any questions or would like to say hello, connect with Xavier on LinkedIn or Twitter.

5 Winning Strategies for Millennial Marketing

millennial-marketing

photo credit: shutterstock

It’s no secret that millennials — young adults between 18-34 — are a hugely sought-after market segment. With upwards of 200 billion burning a hole in their pockets annually, winning their trust, and ultimately their business is a boon to any company.

Every generation has had its share of quirks, but millennials require a different touch when marketing to them. They are savvy enough to know when they’re being pitched to, and they have built up a resistance to it. The crucial element that makes them so hard to win over is the same thing that will boost your business if you’re successful: they absorb and put out social signals like crazy.

In other words, if you appeal to millennials the right way, you can get their business, as well as the added benefit of word-of-mouth on a potentially viral level. Here are five guaranteed strategies to get you started in the right direction.

Stay Mobile

As clichéd as it has become, millennials are hard-wired to their smartphones, so make sure your marketing strategy complements this behavior. First, think about the basics. If you use landing pages, are they optimized for mobile? They should be quick to load, and have a clear, mobile-friendly call-to-action (CTA.)

With that out of the way, start thinking about interesting ways you can use mobile to your advantage. Kiip, a “mobile rewards network” connects brands with users during “relevant moments” of online game play, essentially allowing a brand to sponsor an in-game reward. This type of seamless brand integration is a very welcome replacement for players being bombarded by intrusive web banners and is just the sort of thing that is likely to get the attention of millennials.

Create Peer Brand Evangelists

The oversaturation of traditional advertising, coupled with a world of options at their fingertips has led millennials to essentially tune out unwanted interruptions. They seek out the information they need, and there is great marketing opportunity here.

Rather than a traditional out-bound advertising model, you should be forming partnerships with online influencers that millennials already trust. Notable bloggers, podcasters, YouTube personalities, and Instagrammers are a fantastic way into the world of millennials. A recent study unsurprisingly found that younger consumers are heavily influenced based on the opinions of their peers and people they follow on social media. If you can successfully tap into that, you can build your word of mouth very widely, and very quickly.

Be Socially Connected

Just about every business has a social presence in 2016, but not everyone is using the right strategy to properly engage the millennial market. Just being in the social sphere isn’t enough — you have to effectively communicate with your audience.

When done correctly, your Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram channels should make each and every customer feel special. (After all, this is the “me” generation we’re talking about.)

Here are several tactics you can use:

  • Loyalty programs for fans
  • Properly engage with customer comments (beyond canned responses)
  • Hold contests
  • Encourage user generated content by featuring it on your own channels
Apt2b-Instagram

photo credit: instagram

For instance, many successful Instagram campaigns regularly feature photos taken by their followers. Take the example of Los Angeles-based furniture retailer Apt2B. They encourage their customers to snap pics of their purchases so others can see their sofas and accessories in-context in somebody’s real apartment. It’s a win-win proposition because new customers get a no-B.S. view of the product while the photo provider feels good about being seen and heard by the company.

Create Authentic Content

While millennials have tuned out traditional advertising, they still value any information they deem to be authentic. So rather than going in for the hard sell, try providing your millennial audience with content they can learn from, or be entertained by. The more they interact with this type of content, your message can slowly soak in, especially if they get the sense that your business shares their core values.

As with any kind of campaign, you need to know your audience in order to speak their language. When millennials hear words that sound as if they could have come directly from their peers, (rather than from Madison Avenue,) they are much more likely to trust the message. If you can regularly provide this type of content that they not only respond favorably to, but would actually share online, it goes a long way toward building a real relationship with them.

Farmed-Dangerous

photo credit: Farmed & Dangerous

An excellent example of this in practice is Chipotle’s “Farmed and Dangerous” web series. Featuring a millennial sustainable farmer as the lead, doing battle against an ominous corporate food production company, Chipotle gets their brand messaging across in a subtle, entertaining way. Not only that, but it gets shared. A lot.

Give Them a Say

More than consumers, millennials are interested in taking on the more hands-on role of co-creator. Traditionally, companies have simply created products, hoping consumers would buy them. But now, with so many options out there, it makes sense to inform your decisions based on input directly from your audience. It makes them feel empowered, and you have the knowledge that your product has a built-in fanbase.

Take Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” campaign as a prime example. For the past few years, they put out a call to their fans, asking them to suggest new flavor ideas, as well as vote on the winners.

By reaching out to your audience and allowing them to be a part of the product creation through contests or social media campaigns, you are involving them in the process. In turn, they feel a sense of ownership in the product, which leads to increased brand awareness and loyalty. And any campaign that results in “Southern Biscuits and Gravy” flavored chips is alright by me.

Final Thoughts

Marketing to millennials isn’t rocket science. In fact, it’s incredibly intuitive, because all it requires is a human touch. Talking at them doesn’t work nearly as well as authentically engaging with them. By offering authentic experiences, and engaging content, and by listening to what they’re asking for, you can empower them to discover your brand on their terms.

I think we can safely expect this trend to continue with each subsequent generation, so the sooner we all learn the ropes of “new marketing,” the more successful we can all be.

 

 

wesmcdowellWes McDowell is the creative director at The Deep End Design, a digital marketing and design agency in Chicago. Forever curious about all things related to design, usability, and internet marketing, Wes loves sharing his findings with anyone who will listen.