10 Key Elements of a Marketing Strategy
When you start a company, there’s so much to do and so much to learn! It can be easy just to “wing it” with your marketing. After all, you already know plenty about social media and funnels, right? No matter how knowledgeable you are, it pays to have a plan. Here are the 10 key elements of a solid and effective marketing strategy.
1. Brand overview
Any marketing strategy or marketing plan is going to begin with the basics. What is your brand and what does it do? This is your opportunity to tell a bit about your story and lay the groundwork for the rest of your document.
2. Challenges, opportunities, goals
You won’t see this in every marketing plan out there, but I think it’s absolutely essential to lay out the challenges, opportunities, and goals you see for your company. Start with challenges.
Is the market you’re looking to enter dominated by one key player? Or maybe your product solves a problem people don’t quite understand yet. These are both examples of challenges that you’ll need to address later in your marketing strategy with messaging, positioning, and strategies for creating exposure.
Next, think about your opportunities. If there are only a few companies out there, you might have the opportunity to gain a large portion of the market share if you create brand advocacy early on. If the market is saturated, you might have a very unique angle with your product positioning that will make your brand extra appealing to a key market segment. No matter how tough an industry might be, there is always an opportunity available to you if you take the time to find it.
You’d be surprised how many startup founders can’t clearly articulate the goals they want to reach with their brand—either in the short term or the long term. How can you reach your goals if you never actually set them? Simply answer: you can’t. Setting distinct goals for users, revenue, paid subscriptions, etc. and when you expect to achieve these goals is a very important component of your marketing strategy.
3. Market research
Market research can actually be more difficult to complete than you’d actually think! If you already have paying customers, that’s the first place you should go for feedback and insights. If you don’t have paying customers yet, you’ll need to develop your customer avatars and make some educated guesses about what they both want and need.
When it comes to market research, you’re going to want to start with the basics: Age, gender, location, job title, hobbies. But then, you’ve got to start asking some less obvious questions….
Who are their favorite thought leaders? Where do they like to shop? Podcasts or books? What’s their biggest challenge at work right now?
Answers to these kinds of questions will really help you develop your messaging, your positioning, and even help you to determine the best strategies to use to reach your intended audience.
4. Competitive analysis
You can’t move forward without knowing your competition and studying them. You should certainly pay attention to their pricing, their messaging, how their advertising, and even the way they show up on social media. This will help you learn a lot about what you should be doing, but it will also give you insight into what you don’t want to do.
Studying your competition will aid you in discovering much about marketing for your industry, but it will also tell you a ton about what makes you special and how you can do things differently.
5. Pricing + Positioning
Pricing is an important part of positioning. Are you at the high end? The low end? You need to figure out how you fit into the market. But, of course, positioning goes much farther than that.
Once you understand your competition, you can identify your “position” in the market. How are you like them? How are you different? Are you approaching your customer’s pain point from a unique angle? When you know more about your positioning, you can construct effective messaging and strategies to share that messaging with the world.
Messaging is so important! Based on your competitive analysis and what you see as your unique position in the market, you can begin to develop your brand’s core messaging. As you do this, try to identify specific words or phrases that will really speak to your audience and speak directly to their pain points.
I love developing messaging so much because it allows us to define a clear voice and tone for the brand. Messaging done right will carve out clear market share for your company and it will speak straight to the heart of your ideal customer.
Everything you’ve done up until this point as been about research and defining your own brand on a core level. Now we must take the next steps and determine the actual strategies we will use to market your product or service.
Start with your competitive analysis. What are your competitors doing? Are they on Instagram or LinkedIn? Are they utilizing paid ads or SEO? This is a good opportunity for you to identify what you think is working well and choose some strategies of your own. Some marketing strategies to consider include:
Search engine optimization
Social media marketing
Paid advertising (Social ads, Google Ads, or even print ads)
Networking and association membership
Print materials like flyers or mailers
Executing any particular strategy is going to be near impossible if you haven’t allocated a clear budget for its implementation. You might need money for ads or money for someone to produce content for you. All of this needs to be worked out before you get started.
Maybe you’re a one-woman show? If that’s the case, you’ll still need to set a budget for your own paycheck and also any association fees, software you might be using, etc.
10. Execution plan
Last but certainly not least is your execution plan. Now that you’ve set goals and identified strategies that will help you reach those goals, you must create a plan for how each thing will be implemented.
Start with one goal at a time, declaring when you’d like to achieve that goal by. Now work backwards to see what milestones you’ll have to achieve each day, each month, each quarter, etc. to see that goal to fruition. Now you’ll know which strategies you need to implement and when. Write it all down!
Are you feeling more prepared to tackle your marketing strategy? These 10 elements will be key to your success. Work through each one thoughtfully and thoroughly and you’ll be on your way to rocking your marketing efforts and building a strong, viable brand.
Meet the Author: Shauna Armitage
Shauna is a Marketing Director or Fractional CMO helping early-stage startups scale with effective strategies, creative solutions, and unparalleled integrity by making the most of small budgets for maximum impact.
As a vocal advocate for women in business, Shauna is on a mission to redefine what it looks like to be a working woman and to support other women doing the same. She spends her free time traveling with her husband and four kids while drinking Coca-Colas. Connect with her on Instagram at @shauna.armitage.