Strategy, I think we can assume we know what this is, right?
For fun, let’s look up the definition in the dictionary:
A plan of action designed to achieve a major or overall aim.
That’s pretty clear.
And yet what I’ve found is most marketers struggle to develop a well-thought and documented marketing strategy.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, when you document a strategy, you get this:
- You’ll be more productive at your job in marketing.
- You’ll be less stressed at your job in marketing.
- You’ll be more efficient in the use of marketing tactics and social media tactics.
- You’ll be able to justify your marketing spend and marketing budget.
For many, you find yourself allocating time to marketing tactics like content creation and promotion yet fail to tie it all to an overall strategy.
Ever been there?
Why do I have to create a marketing strategy?
The goal is sales.
Don’t believe me?
Talk to the person that processes your payroll, or the person who handles your company expenses.
Their world is simple: money comes in to support the business and money goes out to keep the business open. This should be your goal as well.
So what about social media, blogging, our website, SEO, and branding?
An effective inbound and digital marketing strategy include all those tactics.
Your prospects and customers will see those things along their journey, called the buyer’s journey. The tactics you use to engage prospects and clients will guide them from initial contact to the point of a sale, where they become paying customers of yours.
Larger enterprises call this “brand awareness, ” but it’s the same thing. We just choose to call it what it is rather than use fancy words. After all, we’re sure you’re a pretty smart reader.
The three straightforward steps
1) Who (persona)
A digital marketing strategy comes down to three parts.
Before a prospect buys from you, you need to know what to say to them, how to say it, and where to place it, so they see it.
Unless you know who you’re talking to, you’ll never get this part right.
So the first part of the process is to figure out who your ideal buyer is. We call them your persona.
Your first step is to create a fictional, generalized representation of your ideal customer called a persona.
One of the key factors from the school of writing involves knowing your audience, because if you don’t know who you’re writing for, then how can you help them solve their problems? Your audience will be your persona.
Your first step: research and create this fictional representation of your ideal customer.
The emphasis is on “your ideal client.” This is important not to miss. Your goal in this exercise is to put the pain points and problems of your prospect first, yet focus on the type of prospect that best aligns with your mission, vision, and how your solution makes their lives better. And it’s equally as important to exclude the “wrong” type of prospect.
If you’re interested in how to build a Buyer Persona, you can read more about the process here.
Now that you know the audience you’re talking to, you can figure out what they need to hear from you to build trust and credibility with them.
You’ll want to place yourself in the shoes of your prospect along their buying journey so that you can deliver the right information at the right time.
This is called empathy, and it’s the art of placing yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s an invaluable activity. This process will help you create content that guides your ideal prospect along their buying journey so that you can deliver the right stuff at the perfect moment.
Regarding the “what,” it could be a funnel sequence of email messages, a product launch, or defined period on your editorial calendar where you send content to your persona.
You have to ask yourself this: what does my ideal prospect need to know to do business with me and in what order?
The “what” part of crafting your marketing strategy helps you craft a narrative that inspires action on the part of your prospect which will motivate some change.
Now we get to the creative part of the process.
By taking the time to understand the who and what, you can now craft a message that resonates with your ideal buyer that gives them the info they need to hear.
The “who” part of crafting your marketing strategy reveals the story you need to share, not just information. Remember, the goal is to create a connection.
The “what” part of crafting your marketing strategy helps you craft a narrative that inspires action on the part of your prospect which will motivate some sort of change.
By figuring this out, you’ll avoid the scenario where the blind is leading the blind and instead deliver the perfect mix of content that will make you irresistible to your ideal prospect. They’ll have no choice but to choose your service to solve their problems.
The biggest mistake
First of all, don’t even begin thinking about how you’re going to create and distribute the content.
This is the mistake that most marketers make because they dive into the tactics without a bigger picture that addresses the “why” surrounding the reason your prospects should do business with you.
That’s usually where people start, which is why so many organizations are doing “content” but not content marketing.
Content strategy is about how you get content created, whether in-house, with the help of freelancers, or by hiring an agency. It also involves how to spread that content once it’s created.
Content marketing strategy is mapping your plan to what your writers should be creating and spreading.
While you’ll certainly adapt and iterate based on what happens when your content is out there, creating a documented strategy will help you get closer to the mark, earlier. You’ll save time and money no matter how you decide to create and spread the content.
Creating a documented strategy will help you get closer to your aim, or goal.
There will be lots of ebbs and flows, and you will need to be flexible as you adapt and update based on what happens when your content is published. And by documenting your strategy, you will save time and money no matter how you decide to create and spread the content because you’ll be focused, rather than chasing the proverbial squirrel of marketing tactics.
If you’d like some advice on how to create amazing content for your business, contact us here.