5 Basic Questions to Your Marketing Strategy For the Smart Marketers.
Forming a Marketing Strategy can be a daunting task, especially when starting from scratch with no past materials or guidelines to help.
Also, the never-ending changes and development of marketing tools and software do not make our lives as Marketers any easier. Maneuvering through unchartered waters is our norm and we need to be smart about it,bringing up the right questions.
Here are 5 Essential Questions to ask yourself whenplanning yournext marketing strategy.
ONE, what are your STAKEHOLDERS’ THOUGHTS?
Start by first talking to your management and stakeholders. Your stakeholders are not only the shareholders and investors; but the sales, business development, product engineers, frontline teams, and customers as well.
What do they think are marketing’s responsibilities? What did they think about past strategies? What do they think marketing should focus on? What are their goals and how can your goals help with theirs (this is the most important question to ask when getting stakeholder support)?
This is a troublesome and confusing step because you will be bombarded with all sorts of contradicting information. However, it is an essential part that most marketers miss.
You need your stakeholders to buy into your marketing strategy, if not, it’ll be an uphill battle.
TWO, what are your GOALS?
What KPIs or results do you need to meet? This is a very important question because your goals determine the strategies you implement. If your goal this quarter was to retain instead of acquire customers, you wouldn’t spend on lead generation tactics.
If you haven’t gone past at least 3 rounds of discussion with your management, you’ve not finalised your marketing goals. Your goals are the backbone of the strategy that needs a solid foundation. No matter how efficient or lean the company is, this will not be settled within one meeting. But if your company is really that nimble and decisive, schedule another meeting a few days later to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Now, if your management is half-hearted and they can’t be convinced, scrap what they don’t like and redo your objectives. It’s frustrating, but you’ll need to give in unless you’re happy spending the rest of the year reassuring them.
THREE, what are the MOST EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES to achieve your goals?
What strategies will give you good and fast results? What strategies worked or failed in the past?
Replicate past successes and learn from failures. You want to grab the lowest hanging fruits first. Work smart, not hard.
For example, you want to build a community around your product. You could take time to work with your developer, build a forum, build awareness of the forum, and get membership signups; or you could use social media and tap onto an existing community of like-minded individuals and from there build the community on your social page.
It’s not easy to figure out what works best and fastest. Do lots of research (Google will be your best friend) and talk to people. If you can, get into a marketing group or community to learn what fails or works for other fellow marketers.
Once you’ve narrowed down on your most direct marketing strategies follow an Improvement Loop of (i) Plan, (ii) Implement, (iii) Evaluate, (iv) Improve.
AND don’t forget – the most important action – always stress a disclaimer to your management that with new strategies, there is risk and nothing is a foolproof success. What you can do though is minimise failure with the Improvement Loop.
FOUR, do you have the necessary RESOURCES?
Is your team or marketing vendor able to support you? Do you have the right software and tools?
If you do not have the right resources to implement your marketing strategy, either invest (when you’ve got budget and time) or get creative (when everything is limited).
Investing means you subscribe to a paid SEO tool and you hire an expert web designer.
Getting creative is using Google’s free SEO tools, using a freelance website developer or just work longer hours to do it yourself!
Don’t be afraid to talk to your management or colleagues for their opinions. Others may have an idea or foresee a problem you never thought of. Plus, it wouldn’t hurt to get more people supporting your decisions.
Lastly, are your strategies sustainable with the resources you have?
It may be wonderful to have 100 client segments, tailoring content for each of them. It’s great if you’ve fully automated this or have a 50 person marketing team. The crux is, does the effort-to-result ratio make sense and can this be carried out long-term without your team wishing a death sentence on you?
FIVE, what is your BUDGET?
Last but not least, how much can you spend? Is the cost of your strategies within the annual budget?
If management or finance refuses to give you a budget (which is oddly the norm in small companies), check the pattern of historical budgets. Most companies will not risk deviating much from the past. If there isn’t any historical budget, make an educated calculation (more like guess) on the estimated funds needed.
Knowing your budget is important because not every one of us works in large MNCs with massive funds. SMEs represent 90% of businesses worldwide and account for 50% of employment. SMEs tend to be more frugal with their spending.
Which means one in two of us would need to be extremely budget-conscious to the penny. Even so when working in an MNC, it is still good to monitor your spending. This will keep you aligned with management and your finance department.
It is extra important for us marketers to be cost-conscious because most companies do not place as much importance on marketing compared to other departments, like sales. We are seen as the cost centre and if we do not achieve the needed results, our budget may cut.
The above questions are a good start to the overarching plan of your marketing strategy. You will go through multiple revisions before getting the right strategy, but do not lose courage as it’s important to walk well before running.
Your marketing strategy should look something like our template. Get in touch with us to get a copy or help with your marketing activities!