“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu
At Beacon Marketing, we have always viewed marketing a business as a journey. The journey can feel like it’s a thousand miles, or, at times, even longer.
And we are absolutely speaking from personal experience.
And having taken that road ourselves, there is one thing we always tell our clients: however long the journey is, or may feel, the first step is always strategy.
We believe that strategy is the single most important factor when it comes to effectively and efficiently marketing a business. Strategy will guide you through those other 999 miles.
Many small- and medium-sized businesses struggle to market themselves because they do not have an overarching plan that ties all their marketing efforts together. Instead of having a clear and concise plan that details what they are doing, when it should be done, and the specific desired outcome, they do what we call random acts of marketing.
What are random acts of marketing? Let’s say a business sends emails on an irregular basis, or randomly posts/engages on social media, infrequently posts new blogs to their website, etc. Essentially there is no apparent rhyme or reason to the content they share.
It is something that most businesses (even us!) are occasionally guilty of. It happens.
The problem occurs when ALL of your marketing efforts consist of random acts of marketing. Marketing your business robs you of the opportunity to build an audience, much less develop a relationship with them to the point that they begin to trust and then give business to your brand.
This is where a marketing strategy becomes so necessary.
A marketing strategy prevents random acts of marketing because you are detailing a rationale for how you plan on promoting your business. In your strategy you outline your goals, unique value proposition, target audience, and content strategy. You also detail how each of the elements work together to attract and convert new customers while keeping your current ones engaged.
In short, your strategy is your map to marketing success for your business.
Let’s look a little deeper at why developing a marketing strategy is the first step you need to take when marketing your business.
It Gives Your Marketing Efforts Structure
As stated above, a well-developed marketing strategy provides your marketing efforts the structure you need to be successful in promoting your business.
Your marketing goals serve as milestones to outline the journey your company will take to reach success.
Everything else—the target audience, unique value proposition, marketing channels, and marketing content—are the detailed steps that you take to reach those milestones.
It Gives You a Framework to Evaluate Your Performance
Aside from outlining your journey, your marketing goals allow you to evaluate your marketing efforts. If you analyze your marketing efforts on a regular basis, you should be able to compare where you are in terms of followers, subscribers, page views, conversions, etc. to determine if your marketing strategy is effective.
If you are not meeting your goals, and therefore behind schedule, you can take necessary measures to make up ground. If you are exceeding your goals, you have the opportunity to set more robust goals or stay the course to give you some room for error.
Whatever the case might be, you want to know what is going on with your marketing efforts so you can make any necessary adjustments.
It Serves as an Effective Communication Tool
Speak to any successful manager, coach, or leader and they will underscore the importance of communication for a team.
Marketing your business is no different. And yet, many business owners and leaders struggle with communication.
We have seen management begin an ad or sales campaign without explaining the details to their frontline employees. Then, a customer receives an email or sees a tweet promoting the sale and they approach an employee to ask a question about the promotion only to be met with an “I don’t know”and shrug of the shoulder. A lack of communication usually results in a poor experience for your customers.
On the other hand, a marketing strategy would outline the sales for a given period of time and how everyone should promote those sales. The frontline staff are educated and prepared for any customer interactions.
A marketing strategy helps you communicate your vision to grow your business throughout your organization. It brings your entire team together on the same page and working towards the same goals.
It Serves as an Excellent Document of Record
As your business grows and you hire new employees or move to new locations, it’s easy to forget the lessons of the past. A detailed marketing strategy serves as an excellent document of record that illustrates what you have done in the past to grow your business. It details what was successful and what did not work.
More importantly, it helps you maintain the organizational knowledge and experience that you have earned which, over time, becomes priceless.
Marketing your business without a strategy is like throwing darts blindfolded. Sure, you might hit the board once in a while, but more often than not, you will miss the board entirely. Before you market your business, you can help ensure success with your marketing efforts by creating a detailed marketing strategy.