All businesses need to use marketing. If your marketing is lacklustre and ill-defined then it will inevitably be weaker. A marketing strategy is a single, comprehensive plan that aligns all of your marketing goals and brand objectives into one easy to follow plan. When a marketing strategy is designed well, it can promote your products, your brand, and your online visibility. However, it can also be used to make sales, identify the needs of your customers and guide the development of your growth plans. To create a successful marketing strategy, you need to combine all of your business goals into a single, aligned plan that is easy to measure.

The Main Parts of a Marketing Strategy

Even the most effective marketing strategy is not going to immediately transform your business into something bigger and better. Instead, it is a way of planning your growth through a long-term and forward-looking approach. The right marketing strategy can give you the edge that you need to survive in today’s increasingly competitive business landscape. The core of a high-quality and high-value marketing strategy needs to consist of these components:

  • Market Research: This means learning about market dynamics, seasonal patterns, customer research into demographics and needs, and your place in your sector.
  • Identifying Target Audience: Know the demographics that need your product, and find ways to segment different audiences.
  • Product Awareness: If you don’t know what value your products bring to consumers then your marketing will fall flat.
  • Competitors: All business models need their unique selling proposition (USP). This is what differentiates you from your competition. Identify what makes you different, and use that as the foundation of your branding.
  • Identify methods: There is a multitude of marketing methods available to you. The ones that suit your strategy will vary depending on your target audience. You will want to consider using a combination of networking, content marketing, press releases, paid campaigns and influencers.
  • Budget: A key part of your marketing strategy will be understanding what you can afford to spend, and what the most cost-effective options for your product will be.
  • Goals: Identify what you want to achieve with your marketing strategy and make sure that they are measurable.
  • Monitor: You are going to need to test and analyse your data so that you know what is working and what isn’t. Use your data to guide changes to your existing marketing strategy and it will become stronger and more effective.

What is a marketing audit?

You need to commit to the undertaking of a marketing audit regularly. This means reviewing the strategy as it is right now and evaluating it in terms of its success. If you make your marketing strategy an ongoing cycle of strategy development, execution of that strategy, and then auditing, you will move forward more proactively. By evaluating your customer touchpoints and analysing the effectiveness and ROI of your promotional strategies, you can easily identify where you are wasting time and money. Marketing audits can be broken down to factor in various unique elements of your marketing, with one person auditing social media impact and someone else evaluating SEO performance.

Why taking stock is a good idea periodically

The less that you evaluate the success of your marketing strategy, the more you are relying on guesswork. Taking stock, identifying what you are doing wrong (and right) is vital. However, the problem with doing a marketing audit is that you will very often find that you are too involved in the development of the original strategy. That makes it far too easy to overlook crucial issues. Third-party marketing audits will tend to be much more effective and valuable because they can take a step back and view your business and your marketing with a more critical eye.

A checklist of topics

To run a successful marketing strategy audit, you will need to run through a checklist that takes all of the various factors of your strategy into account. This means following these key steps:

  • Make an inventory of your existing marketing assets: This should cover everything from your email newsletters and social media updates to your website content.
  • Goal Alignment: Your marketing goals will then need to be measured in terms of how your marketing strategy is currently helping you to meet those goals. Evaluate how each marketing channel is working to help you meet your goals, with one eye on ROI and one on where your strategy is not proving to be effective.
  • Data Measurement: The most important tool at the marketer’s disposal, data is becoming the must-have resource for businesses of all sizes. Evaluate your social media and your website performance, with particular focus placed on CTRs, bounce rates, and social influence.
  • Learn and Improve: By following these steps, you will have a clearer idea of what is working for you and what is having minimal impact. The true value of a marketing audit is your ability to act on the results. Make changes where they need to be made.

The most important part of a marketing audit will be the measuring of the right metrics. Regular audits will always give a more in-depth understanding of what is proving effective, but that means knowing the best metrics to measure. Ideally, you will need to focus on:

  • Brand Reputation: All brands need to be consistent in their marketing. That means ensuring that tone of voice is the same across all channels and that basic elements like logos, graphics, and even colour schemes match.
  • Potential: If your audit comes back with positive results that doesn’t mean that you can sit back and forget about it. Changes can always be made that will improve the customer experience. If your existing channels are performing well, is there room to start including additional marketing platforms? Always make changes that will help to solve the problems of your audience. Address their pain points and your marketing will be stronger.
  • Soft Metrics: One of the most common mistakes made with marketing is the over-reliance on soft metrics. These would be the metrics that don’t bring you any potential to profit. Conversion metrics are your most valuable area to measure, especially when compared to those soft metrics such as social media likes. Check your CTAs and make sure that they are having the desired effect. If not, they will need to be changed. Focus on the opportunities for lead generation so that your marketing growth runs parallel to your profit generation.

Marketing in the digital age is a vast and ever-changing subject area. Brands that want to achieve more and earn more need to focus on marketing and the development of the right strategies. With a combination of a well-formulated marketing strategy alongside regular marketing audits, your brand can only grow.