Marketers have heard it all. User-generated content is king. Chatbots are the future. Influencer marketing delivers the most ROI. And what about micro-moments? This latest addition to the marketing lexicon refers to the idea that you have mere nanoseconds to capture your audience’s attention. However, for all the trends and buzzwords, the best marketers know the real not-so-secret sauce behind breakthrough campaigns.
Combining creative and data is essential to campaign success — but it all starts with vision and strategy.
This is especially true today because more is required of marketing teams than ever before. And since marketers are moving extremely fast — beholden to dates that they have little control over, like the launch of a new product — most marketing teams live in chaos. That makes them reactive. Really reactive.
I know this because I spoke with hundreds of marketers as we prepared to launch Aha! for Marketing — a new product we released this week. It is purpose-built for setting strategy, building visual marketing plans, and reporting on program results.
Before we launched Aha! for Marketing, I wanted to really understand the struggles that marketing teams are facing. I wanted to focus on what they need in order to deliver those brilliant campaigns and also be happier at work. Almost all of the conversations had one common thread.
Marketing teams are passionate about using their own creativity to power the growth of the business.
This made sense — marketers are always among the most creative people in any organization. Yet I was amazed at how many are working without a clear strategy.
If you are a marketer nodding your head in agreement, I will tell you the same thing I told those other teams I spoke with: In order to help drive the business, you need to be clear on where you are going and why. In other words, it is time to get out of react mode and start with a goal-first approach.
Here is how I suggest you should approach strategy as a marketing team:
Set goals and initiatives
Everything starts with objectives. So, get clear on what you want to achieve by setting goals that are actionable, measurable, and support the overall direction of the company. Then establish the initiatives (the major areas of work) that will help you successfully achieve those goals. These initiatives should be time-bound to hold you accountable for getting the work done.
Research the market
Do you really know your audience? You cannot craft and share a meaningful message unless you know who you are speaking to. Do a market analysis — research your target market to understand who will get the most value from your product or service. Then document this information in a place that the whole team can access, whether it is a simple one-page note or broken out into detailed customer personas and competitive landscape analysis.
Know the benefits
Once you understand the market, you can create messages that will really resonate. This starts with crafting your positioning strategy and clearly articulating the benefits of your product or service. To get going, you can use a simple formula like this: (This group of users) have (this specific problem), which (your company/product) uniquely solves/makes possible by providing (this value).
Define the channels
Now that you have the right messaging, you need to distribute it through the right channels. From your research, you will already know the channels your customers frequent and trust — focus on those first. Then, explore new areas for promotion and placement. Be sure to define what success will look like and set performance targets, so you can continuously monitor whether those channels are delivering a solid ROI.
Prioritize work based on what matters
You can be incredibly busy — but activity is not the same as achievement. When you stop reacting and start assessing what comes next based on your goals, you will be able to better prioritize your tasks. As new ideas and requests pop up, weigh each one against your strategy. This will bring objectivity to the planning process and ensure you are pursuing strategic marketing activities.
Strategy is the first step towards creating breakthrough programs that will have a real impact on the business.
You need strategy — clear goals, deep research, and the courage to act upon what you learn. The word strategy might not be a magic buzzword, but getting strategic is the best way to achieve the results that will make you and the company proud.
How do you approach creating a marketing strategy?
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