1. Mission and Goals
The first step in marketing strategy is to understand your company’s mission and goals. Who are you and what is the purpose of your business? How do you wish to be perceived as a brand and what are your company values?
2. Competitor Analysis
It is important to look in detail at your competitors and determine where you sit along side them. We identify their strengths and weaknesses and look for any opportunities to improve your service.
3. Defining your audience
Then we determine your audiences, breaking them down into segments so we can identify specific customers. For example, for a 4-star country house hotel on the West coast of Scotland, a key market is domestic staycations. We can then break this down either further by looking at demographics and interests. For example dog owners in Glasgow who wish to take their pets on holiday. From here we can create personas.
Personas are fictional (but realistic) characters created to represent the target audience of your brand. The purpose of personas is to identify the different ways in which people can find and buy in to your brand or service.
Example: Mary lives in Glasgow, she is retired and 65 years old. She has a dog.
Now we have identified Mary as a potential candidate we can look at what is the best course of action to communicate with her. Where does a retired, female, dog owner hangout online and what content would be appealing to her? Personas help give you the insight needed to create highly relevant content.
5. Marketing channels
Once audiences are established we can decide the appropriate channels to use to communicate with them. It is important to establish the correct channels and not just every channel available so resources (and budget) are used wisely and not spread too thinly. There are many marketing channels – social media sites, emails, blogs, website SEO, press releases, printed adverts, radio … to name just a few. We identify the channels we believe will give the best return based on our audiences. We then measure the success and failures of each channel and evolve as appropriate.
6. Marketing content and execution
Now that we know who we are targeting and where, we can begin to start the creative process of planning campaigns. We use a marketing activity calendar to highlight relevant promotional dates and events, and plot when to launch various content. The activity plan ensures we are always looking to the future so opportunities are not missed. We use the scheduling service Buffer to make sure content is posted consistently (even when we are out of the office).
The budget agreed is taken into account whilst creating all marketing campaigns to ensure we do not exceed limits on money and time and other resources.
8. Monitoring & Evaluation
The marketing plan is an evolving project that will change and grow as time moves on. It is vital to the success of the business that it can be fluid and adapt to changing environments and social and economic factors. Monitoring our marketing campaigns and evaluating success and failures will determine future steps. We look at several results including website traffic, website lead generation forms, SEO (search engine optimisation) results, social media stats (organic and paid), email open and click through rates. We obtain this information from Google Analytics, Mailchimp reports, Buffer social reports, Facebook business and social insights.