When it comes to building an impactful marketing strategy, it’s not about uncovering some specific “secret sauce”. Instead, it’s more about using a strategic process for hypothesizing and then refining a marketing strategy over time. This article will help.
Do you need to improve your marketing strategy? Or maybe you even need to create the first marketing plan for your business? According to a study by Outbound Engine, about 50% of small businesses are operating without a defined marketing plan.
You can start by simply asking yourself this list of questions about your current marketing strategy, and that will lay the groundwork for going about improving it.
Here are 11 questions to ask yourself to improve your marketing strategy.
1. What is your client really buying from you? What motivates your customer to buy your solution? Do you sell through fear, aspirations, or solving a specific problem? Does your approach still work in the current business landscape?
People buy health insurance based on fear of a negative, because they are essentially buying “peace of mind”.
People buy a Tony Robbins book for inspiration to pursue a positive. They are basically buying a sense of optimism and possibility (and some action items).
You go to a mechanic when your car breaks down because it solves your problem (you need to be able to drive your car to work, and you can’t). The main thing you care about is your car working, and not the name of the tools used to fix it.
So what are YOU really selling? And what really is motivating people to buy? Has this been changing and do you need to update your approach?
2. How has your product or service evolved over the past year? Is your marketing message still aligned? Does it need to evolve to keep in sync?
Most businesses’ products and services are constantly evolving, as they strive for continuous improvement. It’s important to regularly take stock of these changes and ensure your marketing messaging still aligns with the current form of the product or service. E.g. you are working to establish the product as high-end and so you start talking about it as “premium”.
3. What is your pipeline for getting people to meet, know, like, and trust you
Consumers expect more handholding from their providers these days. Create a clear pipeline for prospects to be introduced to you and get to know and like you over time.
For example, that might involve:
Social media post -> PDF lead magnet -> autoresponder campaign -> webinar -> sales call
4. Does your target market like a style of content you currently don’t provide, such as webinars or YouTube videos?
Maybe your target customers love podcasts and so all your potential customers are getting poached by others providing podcasts in your space. Scout out the type of content the VIPs in your target market are consuming, and start producing it for them.
5. Where can you find your target market on social media, such as LinkedIn or Facebook? Are they still easily reachable in the same places?
This is a variation on the “who is your ideal customer and where do they hang out“? Question. The nature of social media and online communities is that it’s a constantly shifting landscape. Are your ideal customers still easily reached in the same types of places that they have been? Or have they been shifting towards new places that you should explore marketing to?
24% of businesses don’t use social media at all! So there’s about a 1 in 4 chance this channel is an unexplored opportunity for your business.
6. Are people still reading your blog?
Chances are you have a blog. Chances are also good that it either works very well for you, or not at all. When updating your marketing strategy, you can regularly review whether something is working for you or not when it comes to your marketing. A blog is a great place to start for this.
Note: if it’s the case that your blog isn’t currently getting good results, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should immediately drop it. But it does mean that you either need to decide to drop it or two plan an update to your blogging approach to get it to work better
7. What are your intended CTA’s (call to action) during the stages of your pipeline? Are these clearly indicated in a natural progression from how people are viewing your emails and website?
Review every part of your marketing and website and ask yourself “what am I trying to get people to do here?“. All should have a clear call to action that’s in a place that makes sense. This includes both things like the links in your emails as well as the button on your homepage and whether that directs people to the pricing page or the book a call page.
8. Do you have analytics set up to show you where people are clicking on your emails and your website? Where does it show them clicking, and is this aligned with the intended CTA?
This one’s easy – do you have a tracking tool for your emails and website to track clicks? If not, add it. Down the road a bit when you are sitting down to make a strategic decision about your marketing direction, you’ll have valuable data to help you make informed decisions. For example, when you try to figure out why an email campaign promoting a product isn’t working, you need to be able to see who the clicks on the email versus the webpage in order to troubleshoot whether people not clicking on the link in the email, or whether they are clicking the email but not clicking on the landing page.
9. What are your customer retention strategies and how are you implementing them?
The easiest and cheapest way to get more business is to do more business with your current customers. What’s your strategy for approaching customer retention? Do you have a specific way to encourage this? Often there can be some extremely low hanging fruit in this area.
10. How many referrals do you get? What does your strategy/pipeline look like for consistently getting new referrals?
According to a study conducted by The New York Times, 65 percent of companies’ new business comes from referrals.
Yet, similarly to the previous point on retention strategies, you probably already get loads of referrals…or very few at all. In either situation, most businesses don’t necessarily have a clear strategy when it comes to ensuring that they consistently get referrals. Take the time to sit down and consider the referrals you do get, and the mechanism for how you currently get them, and how you can set up a reliable system for regularly soliciting new referrals for your business.
11. What are the primary metrics that can tell you whether you’re succeeding or failing? Do you have a defined success metric for every marketing campaign you implement? How do you optimize your results over time?
Over 80% of small business owners in the Annual Staples National Small Business Survey said that they don’t keep track of their business goals. Let’s fix that.
So first it’s important to have a reliable way to establish measurable targets and then monitor your progress towards them. This might come in the form of a daily KPI scorecard for your team, or a weekly review meeting, or a quarterly planning session with your leadership team.
There’s one additional necessary component, too. There needs to be a clear process for running tests and optimizing as you go based on what works. Without this, you are setting yourself up for failure to hit your targets.
You can think about it like you are walking through hills and mountains, trying to find the highest peak. You are currently at the line, and as you try to get to the top of the highest peak, you have to first take some detours which actually go lower and lower before getting to the highest point.
These are the experiments you run – they have varying results (different altitudes), but the process is essential for ultimately finding your way to the highest peak.
Create a process for running experiments as your pursue your success metrics, and for regularly reviewing the results to see if you need to keep going and build off the experiment you ran, or if it was the wrong way and you should turn back onto a different path in order to pursue the peak.
Well answering these questions is only the first step of many for improving your marketing strategy, simply by going through this exercise you’ll have identified many of the things that you need to do first to get the ball rolling.
What was your biggest takeaway so far?
If you’d like to read more about sales strategy and remote selling, check out our article on consultative sales processes and the Challenger Sales approach.
To read more about ideas for improving your marketing, you can read our article on email marketing strategies to try in 2022.