Create your marketing strategy

The new year has started, your SME has just started or you notice that there is more and more demand from the market for the products or services you provide. You are hungry for more. You feel that the time has come to bring your marketing strategy to the next level.

How to start?

  1. Learn what a marketing strategy actually is
  2. Define your target audience
  3. Define your goals
  4. Analyse historical data and learn from it
  5. Allocate your budget
  6. Monitor your performance, make adjustments when necessary and report

What is a marketing strategy, and why is it important?

When you’re building a house, you’ll start by drawing a floor plan. This floor plan shows where your supporting walls are, how the building is divided, where the pipes run and where the openings are that connect all the spaces.

In the business world, a marketing strategy is the equivalent of this floor plan. In this strategy, you lay the foundation for boosting your marketing efforts in function of the objectives you have in mind. This plan forms the basis for everything you will do in the coming year marketing wise.

Strategy and tactics

People often mistake strategy and tactics for the same thing. The big difference: a strategy looks at the bigger picture. Ask yourself the question: what do I want to achieve with my business? A tactic is a specific way of achieving that objective.

Strategy: I want to achieve 50% more turnover through online channels this year.
Tactic: we will use Google Ads so that we can lead relevant searchers to the website and also encourage them to become customers.

Who is your target audience? How do they think and feel?

Before you start defining your strategy, it’s important to know who you’re going to cater this strategy to. Something you often hear in the marketing world: “Think like a customer”.

This is very important, because it’s those clients who will see and receive your communication. You want to convince them to engage with you. You want to convince them that you are the expert, and that your products or services are highly qualitative.

In other words: it’s important to know your (ideal) customer. A buzzword you’ve probably already heard: a buyer persona.

A buyer persona is a way to map out your ideal customer. With the help of the information you gather here, you develop an audience that you later use throughout your strategy.

As a business owner, there is a good chance that you already know this top of mind. But it is still a good exercise, even if it is just to refresh the memory, to physically write down a buyer persona. It is important to base your personas on data. Gut feeling can be a good indicator, but when data is available, always go for data. Because in reality, the ideal customer is often a completely different person than initially thought.

Example: Jan is a woodworker from the Kempen and specializes in recreating furniture from the 1970s. He wanted to address an older target audience of 50+, living in the Kempen, who want to breathe new life into their interior and are hungry for a touch of nostalgia.

At first glance, this does indeed seem like the ideal target group, but on closer inspection, after analyzing his web traffic, his customer database and other data at his disposal, he had to make other conclusions.

The target audience where he generates the largest part of his turnover is young people. Young people between the ages of 25 and 40, living in the center of Antwerp, who are obsessed with vintage while enjoying ‘new’ things.

Which things are important when creating a buyer persona?

That being said, you can divide the buyer persona into two parts: informational and psychographic data.

Informational data:

  • Location:using databases such as Google Analytics, or your existing customer database, you can quickly see where the majority of your customers are located.
  • Age: you can also find this in analytics tools. You can also check this based on customer data.
  • Job: this is most relevant when you are active in a B2B environment, but it also paints a good picture for B2C. Who’s interested in your products – blue-collar or white-collar workers?

Psychographic data:

  • Goals: this relates to what objectives your target audience can complete with the help of your product or service.
  • Challenges: by engaging into a conversation with your target audience / customers. This mainly happens in the sales process, where you check whether there are common challenges that your target audience is up against.
  • Hobbies and interests: learning more about your target audience’s hobbies and interests makes it easier to capitalize on new trends.
  • Priorities: what are your target audience’s priorities when considering your services or products?

Putting all this data together gives you an accurate picture of who your target audience is, where they are, and what they’re paying attention to. This also makes it much easier at a later stage to set your target audience, select the right channels and determine the message of your campaigns.

What objectives do you want to achieve?

Now that you know who the people are who will take care of the turnover of your company, it is important to think about which objectives you want to achieve. These objectives can relate directly to your business figures such as turnover, churn, … or apply specifically to your marketing channels such as generating 25% more website visitors.

The main marketing objectives to take into account:

  • Increase brand awareness: are you a startup or do you notice that your target group is not yet aware that there is a solution to their problem? Then increasing brand awareness is one of the first objectives that you should take into account.
  • Increasing brand engagement: trust is important. When potential buyers have never heard of your company, they often start researching how trustworthy your business comes across. In today’s landscape, a company’s social media channels are one of the first places someone checks. A high number of likes, followers, comments or interaction from the company to the followers builds trust.
  • Rank higher in search engines: Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, … they are part of our daily lives. When you need or want to know something, just Google it and less than 10 seconds later you will have your answer. That is why it is interesting to score well in search engines and to send as much of this daily search traffic your website as possible.
  • Generating more website traffic: on average we see that for every 100 visitors there is 1 who converts to purchase products or services. As they once said in the ‘Familie Gillis’: “Mass is cash”. The more relevant website visitors, the more sales you can possibly generate.
  • Generate more qualitative leads: logically, you not only want to increase the traffic to your website, but also increase the requests for your services or products. An interesting route to generate more qualitative leads is to ensure that the visitor-to-lead ratio is increased within the current number of visitors.
  • Generate more revenue: a logical side effect of more leads is, of course, also more turnover. But in addition to ensuring more leads, you also have to ensure that these leads become customers. Here you often focus on increasing the lead-to-customer ratio.
  • Increasing customer value: Are you focussing on generating volume? Or rather focus on service, long-term relationships and loyal customers? Then be sure to capitalize on customer lifetime value.
  • Exude expertise and authority: do you want to become the go-to source of information when it comes to your field? In this way you indirectly convince your target audience that they should choose you when it comes to your products or services.

Of course it doesn’t stop with just choosing an objective. These objectives are qualitative. Marketing is all about measurability and it is therefore best to link measurable KPIs (key performance indicators) to this. By following up on these KPIs, you get the opportunity to measure successes and make timely adjustments where necessary.

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Evaluation and audit of the situation as-is

You have determined your target audience and objective(s). The next step is to map out your current marketing efforts. Are you yet to start with digital marketing? No worries. All beautiful stories were once started on a blank page.

In case you do have a history of marketing activities such as: writing blogs, advertising in Google, posting on social media, sending mailings, … then I will bring up the following keyword again: DATA!

Cliché as it sounds, but measuring is knowing. Whether it was already perfectly executed or not, a thorough analysis of everything that happened in the past is the ideal way to pave the way for future tactics. This gives you a clear picture of what works and what doesn’t, what you should invest in and what you should stay away from.

In addition to the analysis, you can further compile the strategy with things you have not tried yet, things you would like to test, and other things that can serve as added value for your selected objectives.

Coming up with a budget

Any company that recognizes the value of marketing allocates a certain budget annually to spend on marketing. This is usually about 10% of the turnover. Does your company realise a €1,000,000 turnover annually? Then you allocate an average of € 100,000 to marketing. This includes personnel costs, advertising spend, working hours of external parties, tools, offline marketing, print advertising and printing costs, … So there are many things to take into account.

Based on this budget and your needs, you can decide whether to opt for an in-house marketer / marketing department, a freelancer or a marketing agency.

Another alternative is to do your own marketing, but unless you have plenty of time to keep updating your knowledge, to carry out and follow up on all tasks, I don’t think this can last long. After all, you are running a business, which takes a lot of time in itself.

When you know which budget you can allocate to marketing, you can start to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Along the way, you might have to re-think certain things, drop certain actions or change focus. No worries, this is totally normal. Rome was also not built in a day and everything you undertake contributes to the turnover of the following year. If you continue to follow the 10% rule, you will have more and more budget every year that you can allocate to marketing.

Monitoring and reporting

Last but not least, drawing up a strategy and not doing anything with it or not following up on the results of your work is a waste of time for everyone. Marketing moves quickly, things change, you receive data and you have the opportunity to make short adjustments.

Marketing Monthly Meetings: you always bring up the KPIs that you have previously mapped out at these meetings. Are you going in the right direction? Whether you are completely missing the ball or what you can do to continue in the same good direction, whether you need to restructure the plan or keep going: the marketing monthly keeps you on track.

Let’s go!

Ready to roll up your sleeves and get to the drawing board?

Want to start determining your marketing strategy? Get in touch so we can talk strategy.

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