10 Marketing Plan Examples to Inspire Your Campaigns
What do hiking a trail, driving to a friend’s house, and executing marketing campaigns all have in common? Each requires you to closely follow directions.
Directions are a critical part of our daily life. Used correctly, they can guide decision-making processes, make labor more efficient, and get where you want to go as quickly as possible.
But failing to keep track of directions could cost you — and not just gas money. When it comes to marketing strategies, not having a clear goal tanks web traffic, dissipates brand interest, and costs companies across the United States a whopping $400 billion a year.
Designing a marketing plan is certainly no easy task, but it can be made easier with best practices, strategic tips, and concrete examples from successful businesses all over the world.
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What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a strategic document that acts as a guide for marketing campaigns and strategies. These critical road maps detail where you are, where you’re going, and how you plan to get there.
The average marketing plan consists of seven major sections:
- Writing an executive summary
- Discussing the mission statement
- Listing marketing objectives
- Performing a SWOT analysis
- Completing market research
- Designing a market strategy
- Determining a budget
The more detailed a marketing plan is, the more efficient it will be at accomplishing its goals.
As you might imagine, marketers who bother to write a concrete marketing plan enjoy several benefits :
- Organized marketers have a 674% higher chance of reporting success
- Marketers who set goals are 377% more successful than those who don’t
It’s clear that a successful marketing plan opens pathways to other forms of business success — although the process is underutilized at best. More than three out of four small business owners lack an overarching marketing plan if they don’t have a clear path of growth. Creating a holistic marketing plan is absolutely necessary to scale brands at any level of development.
10 marketing plan examples from every industry
It’s much simpler to design a plan of action when the groundwork already exists. Below are 10 marketing plans sourced from real companies and brands around the world, highlighting unique approaches to researching, crafting and implementing a marketing strategy .
Popular SaaS Contently developed a visual marketing plan for developing future campaigns. The strategy depicts its plan in a “waterfall” format, with goals blending into methods of application that eventually lead to success metrics. Although far more casual than other examples on this list, the work provides an excellent overview of a marketing plan’s necessary components.
2. Visit Baton Rouge
The Baton Rouge area of Louisiana generates millions of dollars every year from tourism alone. The Visit Baton Rouge marketing plan was born from a need to better position the area and create long-term strategies for generating interest. This 38-page document goes into detail describing different destinations, events, and calendars, including recommended measurements for success.
Created by SaaS company HubSpot , this template includes a business summary, SWOT matrix, market strategy, budget, and other important aspects of a marketing plan. By filling it out, you can make informed decisions about your company’s positioning and your marketing in general.
Evernote provides a comprehensive marketing plan template for businesses of any size. Create a plan that walks through overviews, timelines, research, personas, and all other elements of an airtight campaign. If desired, you can also implement this template into your Evernote account to start developing a marketing plan almost immediately.
5. University of Illinois
Even educational institutes need marketing plans. The University of Illinois created a very straightforward document that encapsulates its market context, research efforts, and current campaigns. Objectives and success metrics are completed in the third section, with about 40 pages overall.
Monday.com is a project management platform providing in-house templates to all active users. This marketing plan offers various categories and subcategories that track project progress with data visualizations. Detailed objectives and KPIs can be identified in-app, including columns for a projected cost range.
Popular health and hygiene brand Lush released a comprehensive marketing plan walking through some products, positioning, and a marketing calendar for upcoming product releases. One of the highlights includes a detailed SWOT analysis with easy to read graphics. This is particularly helpful for brands in the personal care industry, among others.
Industry titan Coca-Cola released a strategy video that encompasses all seven elements of a holistic marketing plan. The proposal primarily explains the major content initiatives for the coming year, and focuses on how the brand’s initial ideas can be practically implemented into the existing strategy.
9. Naperville Park District
Publicly funded recreational parks often have limited access to resources, which is why the Naperville Park District created a strategic marketing plan right at the beginning. This extremely detailed document walks through the company’s mission, situational analysis, strategy, and budget, on a micro-level.
Unlike the longform documents we’ve seen already, Starbucks takes a more concise approach. This six-page release details a strategy to elevate CX and brand ambassadors around the world. The marketing plan touches on individual strategies and tactics, as well as the methods used to ensure success. It’s important to note the detailed customer journey profiles that fit into a five-year strategy.
How to approach a marketing plan
Now that you know what a marketing plan looks like, it’s time to explore the initial stages of drafting and publishing your very first plan. Once you establish some basic starting points, a little research is all you need to get started.
Determine your goals
Directions simply don’t matter without an endpoint in mind. Craft some meaningful goals for your marketing campaign that envelop your brand’s values, objectives, and year-end plans. It’s best to use the SMART goal framework:
The more specific your goals are, the more effective your marketing plan will be.
Check your competitors
Staying abreast of your competitors and market share is critical in the early stages of a marketing plan. Using competitive analysis tools or an internal process, take some time to evaluate the approach that others are using — and how you can do better.
You might want to:
- Perform a competitive analysis
- Keep a close eye on industry news
- Browse competitor social media content
Keep in mind that it’s possible to hire freelancers to perform competitive analysis for you, depending on your needs and time constraints.
Identify your audience
Understanding your target market — including their goals, ages, values, and demographics — is the golden rule of marketing. This can be done several ways, either by using data, creating personas, or outlying features in a document.
It’s best to consider everything that may be relevant to your audience in the marketing plan, including how products can be positioned in a way that makes them relevant. For example, a customer with a degree in IT would be more interested in ads that speak to their experience and industry pain points.
If you don’t have a target audience in mind yet, consider using programs like Google Analytics or in-platform insights from Facebook to identify specific segments.
Craft final KPIs
The difference between a good marketing plan and a great marketing plan starts with key performance metrics (KPIs). These will be used to measure the effectiveness of your campaign and provide detailed information about what worked, what didn’t, and what you can change in the future.
Every marketing plan should rely on its own unique set of metrics, all fitted to individual needs. If you’re looking for specific examples, you might want to try:
- Raising the number of followers on a social media account
- Generating a certain amount of website leads
- Achieving higher email open rates
Keep in mind that your final metrics should adhere to the SMART method for best results.
Perform your revisions
The marketing plan is a living document and must be updated regularly to remain current. The average plan only has a shelf life of one to five years , on average, and should receive regular revisions in the meantime.
Take a closer look at your past goals, competitors, audience, and KPIs. Are any of these outdated or ill-aligned? What has changed for the company since its initial publication date? Make these adjustments accordingly (and hopefully with members of a team or committee).
Create marketing plans that guide your business well
It’s not enough to just write a marketing plan. In an increasingly competitive world of iron-clad strategies, marketing pros should take their time developing a plan that lasts. The above examples are a great place to start, especially as you craft an approach that is catered to your industry.
Keep an eye on the growth of your business once your marketing plan hits the shelves. Continue to find new ways to optimize, refine, and otherwise make what you have even better than before. With an airtight marketing plan by your side, the possibilities are virtually limitless.
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What Is a Marketing Strategy?
- How It Works
- Strategies vs. Plans
How to Create a Marketing Strategy
- Marketing Strategy FAQs
- Marketing Essentials
Marketing Strategy: What It Is, How It Works, How To Create One
Investopedia / Daniel Fishel
A marketing strategy refers to a business’s overall game plan for reaching prospective consumers and turning them into customers of their products or services. A marketing strategy contains the company’s value proposition , key brand messaging, data on target customer demographics, and other high-level elements.
A thorough marketing strategy covers the four Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion.
- A marketing strategy is a business’s game plan for reaching prospective consumers and turning them into customers of their products or services.
- Marketing strategies should revolve around a company’s value proposition.
- The ultimate goal of a marketing strategy is to achieve and communicate a sustainable competitive advantage over rival companies.
Understanding Marketing Strategies
A clear marketing strategy should revolve around the company’s value proposition, which communicates to consumers what the company stands for, how it operates, and why it deserves their business.
This provides marketing teams with a template that should inform their initiatives across all of the company’s products and services. For example, Walmart ( WMT ) is widely known as a discount retailer with “everyday low prices,” whose business operations and marketing efforts are rooted in that idea.
Marketing Strategies vs. Marketing Plans
The marketing strategy is outlined in the marketing plan —a document that details the specific types of marketing activities that a company conducts and contains timetables for rolling out various marketing initiatives.
Marketing strategies should ideally have longer life spans than individual marketing plans because they contain value propositions and other key elements of a company’s brand, which generally hold constant over the long haul. In other words, marketing strategies cover big-picture messaging, while marketing plans delineate the logistical details of specific campaigns.
For example, a marketing strategy might say that a company aims to increase authority in niche circles where their clients visit. The marketing plan puts that in action by commissioning thought leadership pieces on LinkedIn.
Benefits of a Marketing Strategy
The ultimate goal of a marketing strategy is to achieve and communicate a sustainable competitive advantage over rival companies by understanding the needs and wants of its consumers. Whether it’s a print ad design, mass customization , or a social media campaign, a marketing asset can be judged based on how effectively it communicates a company’s core value proposition.
Market research can help chart the efficacy of a given campaign and can help identify untapped audiences to achieve bottom-line goals and increase sales.
Creating a marketing strategy requires a few steps. HubSpot, a digital marketing resource, offers insight into how to create your strategy.
- Identify your goals: While sales are the ultimate goal for every company, you should have more short-term goals such as establishing authority, increasing customer engagement, or generating leads. These smaller goals offer measurable benchmarks for the progress of your marketing plan. Think of strategy as the high-level ideology and planning as how you accomplish your goals.
- Know your clients: Every product or service has an ideal customer, and you should know who they are and where they hang out. If you sell power tools, you’ll choose marketing channels where general contractors may see your messaging. Establish who your client is and how your product will improve their lives.
- Create your message: Now that you know your goals and who you’re pitching to, it’s time to create your messaging. This is your opportunity to show your potential clients how your product or service will benefit them and why you’re the only company that can provide it.
- Define your budget: How you disperse your messaging may depend on how much you can afford. Will you be purchasing advertising? Hoping for a viral moment on social media organically? Sending out press releases to the media to try to gain coverage? Your budget will dictate what you can afford to do.
- Determine your channels: Even the best message needs the appropriate venue. Some companies may find more value in creating blog posts for their website. Others may find success with paid ads on social media channels. Find the most appropriate venue for your content.
- Measure your success: To target your marketing, you need to know whether it is reaching its audience. Determine your metrics and how you’ll judge the success of your marketing efforts.
Why does my company need a marketing strategy?
A marketing strategy helps a company direct its advertising dollars to where it will have the most impact. Compared with the data from 2018, the correlation between organization and success in marketers jumped from being almost four times more likely to almost seven times more likely in 2022.
What do the four Ps mean in a marketing strategy?
The four Ps are product, price, promotion, and place. These are the key factors that are involved in the marketing of a good or service. The four Ps can be used when planning a new business venture, evaluating an existing offer, or trying to optimize sales with a target audience. It also can be used to test a current marketing strategy on a new audience.
What does a marketing strategy look like?
A marketing strategy will detail the advertising, outreach, and public relations campaigns to be carried out by a firm, including how the company will measure the effect of these initiatives. They will typically follow the four Ps. The functions and components of a marketing plan include market research to support pricing decisions and new market entries, tailored messaging that targets certain demographics and geographic areas, and platform selection for product and service promotion—digital, radio, internet, trade magazines, and the mix of those platforms for each campaign, and metrics that measure the results of marketing efforts and their reporting timelines.
Is a marketing strategy the same as a marketing plan?
The terms “marketing plan” and “marketing strategy” are often used interchangeably because a marketing plan is developed based on an overarching strategic framework. In some cases, the strategy and the plan may be incorporated into one document, particularly for smaller companies that may only run one or two major campaigns in a year. The plan outlines marketing activities on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis, while the marketing strategy outlines the overall value proposition.
Walmart Corporate. “ About .”
HubSpot Blog. “ 7 Steps to Create a Complete Marketing Strategy in 2022 .”
i7 Marketing. “ 6 Steps to Develop a Winning Marketing Campaign .”
CoSchedule. “ Trend Report: Marketing Strategy 2022 .”
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How To Write a Marketing Strategy for Your Business Plan
Potential investors want to see how you plan to sell
Alyssa Gregory is an entrepreneur, writer, and marketer with 20 years of experience in the business world. She is the founder of the Small Business Bonfire, a community for entrepreneurs, and has authored more than 2,500 articles for The Balance and other popular small business websites.
How Marketing Strategy Fits Into Your Business Plan
The 4 ps: product, promotion, price, and place, 7 tips for writing a marketing strategy, the bottom line, frequently asked questions (faqs).
Bulent Ince / E+ Collection / Getty Images
A marketing strategy is important for all businesses because it clearly outlines how they'll find new customers and promote their products and services to ultimately achieve more sales. You can use the marketing strategy as a stand-alone tool, as part of a marketing plan, or as part of a business plan, all with slightly different components.
Let's focus on some marketing strategy examples for your business plan.
- A solid marketing strategy addresses the four Ps: product, promotion, price, and place.
- Your success can depend on understanding your clients’ needs and being flexible enough to find a way to meet them.
- Keep your budget in mind. You can only do what you can afford to do, and you should plan for accommodating periodic shortfalls.
The marketing strategy section of your business plan builds upon the market analysis section . The marketing strategy outlines where your business fits into the market and how you'll price, promote, and sell your product or service. It can also act as a source of important information for potential investors who are analyzing your business.
You can break down the key information in the marketing strategy section using the 4 Ps of marketing concept: product, promotion, price, and place.
Product can refer to either a physical product or a service that you plan on offering. Some of the product areas that fall into this section include:
- Related products or services
Promotion covers the various aspects of how you plan on marketing your product or service. The areas you should address include:
- Marketing budget
- Promotional strategy
- Publicity and public relations
- Sales force
- Sales promotion
This addresses the way you plan on pricing your product or service. The aspects of pricing you should address are:
- Bundling (if you have related products/services)
- Pricing flexibility
- Pricing strategy
- Retail price
- Seasonal price (if applicable)
- Wholesale (volume) price
Also known as distribution, this part is all about the delivery of your product or service to your customers. Some areas you should cover include:
- Distribution centers
- Distribution channels
- Inventory management
- Order processing
Keep seven things in mind as you write the marketing strategy section of your business plan to make it as effective and relevant as possible.
Show How Unique You Are
The foundation of your marketing strategy should be your unique selling proposition (USP). This is the statement that outlines what differentiates you from everyone else in the market. Create your USP first, then build upon it by relating it to each of the 4 Ps.
The common thread through each part of your marketing strategy should be how your business solves a problem or meets a need better than anyone else.
Know Your Customers/Clients
The information you include in your marketing strategy should incorporate all the research you conducted in your market analysis . Make sure you have a clear idea of who your ideal customers or clients are, what they like, what they need, and what they expect. This will make your marketing strategy more accurate and applicable to your target audience.
The 4 Ps of marketing work well for physical products, but you may have to tweak them a bit for services. For example, you might use your website instead of a physical location for the place section. Your website should also be a part of your promotion section, as should any social media platforms that you participate in.
Do Your Research
When you’re determining your pricing, you should have plenty of data to back up your decision when you're determining your pricing. Include industry reports, competitor ads, and comparisons that demonstrate the research you conducted and how you came to the conclusion that you're pricing your product or service correctly.
As in other sections of your business plan, using charts, graphs, and images to illustrate your facts can make them easier for your audience to absorb and understand. Is your pricing right at the median of the industry? Are you planning to use a four-step distribution process?
Use visual aids to drive your point home.
Remember Your Budget
You'll outline the financial analysis of your company in another section of your business plan but keep those numbers in mind as you write your marketing strategy. Your marketing process may look good by itself, but you'll have a difficult time meeting your goals unless you tie it directly to your financial status.
Include Your Collateral
You should include samples as exhibits if you're going to talk about your marketing collateral in your marketing section. These might include brochures, fact sheets, videos, and photos.
Your marketing strategy is your overall plan for how you're going to make your business profitable. Larger enterprises might have different strategies for various arms of their operations. Sole proprietors carry the weight of a single plan on their own. But addressing all these components will increase your odds of success in any case.
What are the four types of marketing strategies?
Many consider the four Ps to be the basic types of marketing strategies, but others focus on four possible ways you can reach clients and consumers: search engine optimization, paid advertising, content marketing, and sales.
What are the seven Cs of marketing?
The seven Cs organize your marketing strategy. They can vary depending on who you talk to and the nature of your business, but you can tailor yours to best meet your goals and needs. Most include customer, consistency, creativity, and communication. Some include other factors, such as convenience, competition, credibility, culture, and change.
American Marketing Association. " The Four Ps of Marketing ."
Notes Learning. " 7 Cs of Marketing ."
OBC. " The 7 Cs of Marketing: How to Apply Them ."
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What Is a Marketing Plan? And How to Create One
Learn what a marketing plan is, how they help businesses, and the steps for building yours.
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a document that a business uses to execute a marketing strategy. It is tactical in nature, and, as later sections of this article explore, it typically includes campaign objectives, buyer personas, competitive analysis, key performance indicators, an action plan, and a method for analyzing campaign results.
What is the purpose of a marketing plan?
In general, a marketing plan serves several purposes:
Streamline and organize marketing efforts
Guide businesses and their marketing teams through a sequence of marketing activities
Determine how to measure a campaign’s success
Effectively allocate the marketing campaign budget
A business might develop a marketing plan for a specific need, campaign, or goal within its larger mission. Here are some examples:
Launching a new product or service
Carrying out campaigns through different marketing channels, including social media , email marketing, print media, TV, or offline events
Implementing paid advertising
Measuring marketing efforts over specific periods of time, such as every quarter, six months, or year
Marketing plan vs. marketing strategy vs. business plan
In researching what a marketing plan is, you may come across the related concepts of marketing strategy and business plan. Think of all three as written roadmaps for developing your business. You’ll find similarities among them, including your business objectives and information on your target market, but there are some important differences to know as you build these roadmaps, as we’ve laid out in the chart below.
Review these roadmaps periodically to measure the success of your marketing and business efforts.
How to create a marketing plan
The following sections describe the components of a solid marketing plan and the steps to building each one. Develop each section in the order listed, and use insights from each section to guide your process in the ones that follow. Once you complete all of the sections, review your entire plan for areas that need refining.
1. Executive summary
Here, you will write a short summary, usually no longer than a few paragraphs, to introduce the sections that follow. In a few paragraphs, orient readers to the following:
General information about the business, such as its mission, past accomplishments and setbacks, and brand identity
Information specific to the marketing campaign driving this plan and how it will advance or improve upon past marketing efforts
You might choose to compose this section last, after you’ve written and refined the marketing plan as a whole.
2. Marketing campaign goals
Borrowing from your marketing strategy and business plan, state the marketing campaign's goals with specificity and data-driven metrics. For example:
Specify “get more email subscribers” as “increase email subscribers by 50 percent by next quarter.”
“Generate more online purchases” could be specified as “Drive traffic from paid Facebook ads to a sales page and increase the site’s conversion rate from 2 percent to 5 percent.”
3. Key performance indicators (KPIs)
KPIs are the specific metrics you’ll monitor to measure the success of your marketing efforts. It’s important to determine KPIs so that you can continually optimize your tactics, reduce inefficiencies, and steer your marketing campaign toward success.
KPI examples include:
The number of website visitors
The number of new email subscribers
The number of event registrants
The rate of converting leads into customers
Sales revenue figures
4. Buyer personas
Refer to your marketing strategy and business plan to crystalize target market insights into detailed buyer personas. You can think of a buyer persona as a fictional character that you create based on your existing customers and extensive market research. Building clear buyer personas helps to focus your marketing efforts and drive campaign results.
Answer these questions to get started:
What is this persona’s demographic profile, including age, income, location, occupation, etc?
Where do they go to find information?
What keywords do they use to search?
How do they prefer to purchase products and services?
At what times of the day are they most likely active on social media or other marketing channels, online or offline?
What words, phrases, and questions do they use to describe their challenges and goals?
Use answers to tailor every detail of your marketing campaign to your buyer persona and guide potential customers toward an action, such as subscribing to your email list or making a purchase.
5. Competitor analysis
Refer again to your marketing strategy and business plan to extract key information about how competing brands are reaching customers in your target market. Then, examine competitors’ marketing strategies in more detail.
Here are three ways to generate marketing-specific information about competitors:
Use SEO tools like SEMRush to discover how your competitors are leveraging popular keywords, content, and ad copy to attract an audience.
Study competitors’ social media accounts and note the content they post to engage followers.
Subscribe to competitors’ email lists to learn how they market and sell to potential leads right in their inboxes.
6. Action plan
Your campaign’s action plan should include the specific tactics and methods you’ll use to market your products and services to potential customers.
Include the following information in your action plan:
The campaign budget and target date of completion
Key milestones you need to pass on your way to achieving the goals
The marketing channels you will use, offline and online
The kinds of content you will create and your schedule for delivering it
Organic and paid marketing activities
7. Method of analyzing results
Your marketing plan should describe how you will monitor KPIs and analyze your campaign results at each milestone. That way, you can find out what’s working and what’s not and adjust your plan accordingly.
Be sure to set up analytic tools for each of your marketing channels, including your social media accounts, email system, website and landing pages, and event registration pages. Set calendar alerts based on your action plan for reviewing KPIs.
Which channels see the most traffic?
Which channels are converting at the highest rates?
How are individual pieces of content performing?
How efficiently is your budget performing?
Which metrics are improving, staying the same, or declining over time?
Marketing plan key takeaways
Remember: Having a solid marketing plan can make it possible to allocate your marketing budget effectively and streamline your marketing activities. By following the seven steps above, you may be able to see improvements in your marketing efforts, from attracting more ideal customers to inspiring them to take action.
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A marketing plan outlines your marketing strategy, which includes how you’ll attract new customers, retain current customers and promote your products or services. Creating a marketing strategy is key to ensuring you’re making the most of your money while targeting the right people through the right channels so you can grow your business.
When you create your business plan, the marketing plan will be an important component. Within a business plan, the marketing plan helps to explain how your business fits into the market, who your competitors are and how you’ll stand out. Small-business marketing is all about how you will promote your products or services to increase sales through customer engagement.
The first step when learning how to write a marketing plan for your business plan is research. You want to look at your market as a whole , your competitors, their marketing strategies and past marketing strategies you’ve used — if any. Your research will inform who your target customer base is, how to price your products , what marketing channels will best serve your business, how you want to interact with customers and what your marketing budget will be.
While not all your research will be included in your marketing plan, it will help to inform your marketing strategy. The final product will be a much condensed and synthesized version of what you discover from your research.
2. Know your business
To create an effective marketing strategy, you need to understand the ins and outs of your own business. What makes your products or services unique? What’s your company’s mission? Why did you start this business in the first place? Reminding yourself what makes your business special will help you inform your marketing strategy and show potential customers why they should choose to work with you. Plus, looking at your business from the viewpoint of a potential customer may help you uncover some unique selling points you hadn’t previously considered.
» MORE: Can your small-business idea actually make money?
3. Understand your customer
Beyond your business and the products or services it offers, you also need to take your customer into consideration when writing your marketing plan.
Understand your customer: who they are, what they like, their pain points, how your product or service solves their problem, how and where they consume media and how to communicate with them. Much of the success of your marketing strategy depends upon knowing and communicating well with your customers.
Identify your target market and narrow your scope to a specific demographic — like athletes or parents, for instance — to help you pinpoint the best way to reach them. If you cast your net too wide, you may come off as insincere and struggle to attract any customers.
4. Highlight your unique selling proposition
Your business’s unique selling proposition, or USP, is the thing that makes you stand out. If you want your product or service to sell well, you need to make sure it offers something your competitors don’t. To do that, you need to find your USP.
You likely have a good idea already of what your USP is, but it’s time to synthesize all of the great ideas you gathered in the previous steps into an easily shareable description. Consider this your elevator pitch. You want to be able to tell someone why your product or service is best in less than 30 seconds. You may also find a catchy slogan comes out of this, as well.
5. Check out the competition
While you need to make decisions that are right for your business based on internal information, you also should have an understanding of what your competitors are doing and how it’s working for them.
Take a look at their products, pricing and marketing strategies. Check out their customer reviews to see what people like and dislike about their business. Then use this information to make your business — and marketing strategy — even better.
6. Know your numbers
A marketing strategy will cost money; however, it doesn’t have to be a lot. In fact, there are plenty of free marketing ideas you can try. However, you will likely need to spend some money if you want to make money in the long run. Understanding your business financials to come up with a realistic marketing budget is crucial before you can decide on your concrete marketing plan.
7. Show, don't tell
If you have any marketing collateral already created, such as logos, ads or social media posts, be sure to include them in your marketing strategy. This will show potential investors or lending partners that you’ve made concrete progress on your business’s marketing plan.
8. Test your strategy and talk to customers
The only way to truly know whether your marketing strategy will work is to show it to real people and get their opinions. While you don’t need to have your entire marketing plan created to get feedback, it’s a good idea to run some general ideas past a focus group to get their input. These can be potential customers or friends and family — just make sure you’re getting their honest feedback. Use the results to tweak your strategy to better suit your customers.
» MORE: Common startup mistakes and how to avoid them
What to include in a marketing plan
Now that you've done the research for your marketing strategy, you need to synthesize it into an easily digestible plan that shows yourself and potential investors that you know how to market your business. You can use the following components as a sort of marketing plan template to organize your research:
Product or service overview. If your business sells products, include specifics like sizes, types, colors, features and pricing. For services, detail what they are, what problems they solve, why they will be in demand and what they cost.
Target customer personas. Who are they? How old are they? Where do they live? How much do they make, on average? Are they married or single? Do they have kids and/or pets? What are their interests, wants, and needs?
USP. Through researching the market, your competition and customers, you know how your business stands out. Be sure you can explain what makes your business unique.
Marketing budget. Outline how much of your overall business budget you’re planning to allocate to marketing. Based on your research, you can also include projections for how this budget will grow your sales.
Marketing channels. For a fully comprehensive marketing plan, you’ll likely use a combination of several channels — email , social media, SMS , local , digital , etc. Detail which you'll focus on, the budget for each, expected returns and what numbers you'll track (views, clicks, subscribers, etc.).
Conversion and retention strategy. Outline a plan for converting leads into paying customers — and for retaining those customers and getting their repeat business. New customers are important, but so is customer retention. After all, it’s more expensive to find a new customer than it is to foster a relationship with an existing one.
Marketing collateral. In the interest of space, you may want to include just a couple of items within the marketing plan section itself, and you can include the rest in the business plan appendix.
» MORE: Best marketing tools for small businesses
A version of this article originally appeared on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.
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12 Marketing Strategy Examples, How to Create One + Tips
What is a marketing strategy?
Marketing strategies vs. marketing plans vs. marketing tactics , types of marketing strategies, how to create the most effective marketing strategies.
- Top 11 great marketing strategy examples and 1 you shouldn't follow
Top tips for creating successful marketing strategies
- Marketing strategies make it more likely that you'll reach your goals
Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or just starting out on your very first small business venture, every company in the world needs an effective marketing strategy to build brand awareness and drive new customers to its products and services. However, if you’ve never been involved in successful marketing strategies, creating one can be easier said than done.
The most effective marketing strategies consider every aspect of the marketing flow, from a thorough understanding of your audience personas to a clear-cut marketing budget and so much more; there’s a lot to cover in a company marketing strategy.
In this guide, we’re going to look at some of the best marketing strategies of all time and explain how you can utilize different types of marketing strategies to maximize your returns in no time.
Before we tell you how to compose an effective marketing strategy, you need to understand what a marketing strategy is and how it can help you improve your advertising.
In simple terms, business marketing strategies are a tool marketers use to outline their various campaigns and marketing models. It’s the how of how you’ll get customers interested in your products and services.
To create an effective marketing strategy, you need to do four things:
- Understand who buys your products or services (who are your customers?)
- Understand how to motivate these people to buy/continue to buy your products or services
- Understand who your competitors are and what they’re doing to achieve the same objectives
- Understand how to measure the success of your marketing campaigns and efforts.
You can do it too.
Like a marketing plan, your marketing strategy should cover the five “Ps” of marketing:
- Product – What you’re trying to sell
- Price – Profit margins, marketing budget, etc.
- Place – What channels or platforms will you use? (For example, will you be advertising on social media, utilizing email marketing, or going offline?) Consider where your customers already spend their time for the optimal marketing locations.
- Promotion – What are you trying to achieve? (Are you hoping to build your social media presence, increase brand perception, promote a new product, or something else?)
- People – Who is your target audience? What drives them?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be in a fantastic position to start building your company’s marketing strategy.
Although “marketing strategies” might seem relatively straightforward, there can often be some confusion when establishing whether you’re creating a marketing strategy, marketing plan, or marketing tactic. While all three of these marketing initiatives work together, they cover slightly different aspects and should not be used interchangeably.
A marketing plan is an overview of all your marketing initiatives. This will include all the campaigns you intend to run over a set period of time, your goals and ambitions for the projects as a whole, and any research you’ve compiled to support these aims.
Marketing strategies at first glance appear very similar to the overarching marketing plan. However, the strategies will take a closer look at just a few select parts of the marketing plan.
For example, if your marketing plan is to promote a new product or service, you might have a strategy dedicated to how you’re going to use email marketing to support these broader goals. Every marketing plan will most likely produce several marketing strategies as part of the broader plan.
While the marketing plan and strategies are committed to explaining what you’re going to do, marketing tactics go deeper again and establish how you’re going to do it.
Using the above example, the marketing plan is to build awareness for a new product. The marketing strategy is how you’ll utilize email marketing as part of this. The marketing tactics will detail the specific actions you’ll take as part of the marketing campaign.
Now we understand some of the different marketing terms, it’s time to zone in on marketing strategies and how these work as part of your business plan.
There are numerous different types of marketing strategies you can use depending on your business needs. While we’re not going to cover every marketing strategy type today, these are some of the main ones that you’re likely to come across:
1. Social media marketing strategy
Today, social media marketing is a huge part of any business’s marketing plan as it’s a hugely compelling way to drive traffic, build brand awareness, and take advantage of the social selling revelation that’s taking over online marketing.
According to recent data, around 54% of social media users use social platforms to research brands and products, and 89% of consumers who follow a particular brand will purchase from that brand.
With these figures, if you’re not utilizing an effective social media marketing strategy, you’re missing out on untold rewards.
2. Email marketing strategy
Anyone who’s ever told you “email is dead” is dead wrong. Capturing your customers’ emails and browsers should be an essential part of your marketing strategy and is an excellent way to continue a conversation with people who have expressed interest in your brand.
There are loads of email marketing tools available to help you in this area. However, you still need an effective email marketing strategy to produce consistent, compelling emails that convert readers into buyers.
3. Inbound marketing strategy
An inbound marketing strategy is all about pulling customers in and driving traffic to your website or products. Rather than using “disruptive” marketing techniques (like TV advertising), inbound marketing is about lead generation using people who have shown interest in your products, services, or brand as a whole.
Email marketing can be a good example of an inbound marketing strategy. If someone has subscribed to your mailing list, chances are they’re at least somewhat interested in what you have to say. This enables you to take a softer approach to your marketing, as these leads are already more likely to become sales.
Another inbound marketing strategy could be blog posts. People will only see blog posts relevant to their search terms and interests, meaning they’ve expressed a need that at least somewhat relates to what you’re selling.
4. Content marketing strategy
A content marketing strategy is likely to overlap with an inbound marketing strategy, but it is more specific. With content marketing strategies, you focus on content creation that will draw people in and build interest.
This is likely to cover blog posts and white papers and can even overlap with your social media marketing.
Effectively, any part of your marketing campaigns that require content will require an effective content marketing strategy.
5. Editorial strategy
Taking an editorial approach is a particularly vital marketing strategy for advertising companies as it highlights the content formats, workflows, and channels you’ll be utilizing to hit your marketing goals.
It’s similar to the sort of marketing strategies you would expect to see in a news or media organization and can be essential for brand publishers or advertisers to keep their marketing efforts and ideas in focus.
6. Marketing communications strategy
Your marketing communications strategy should be primarily focused on your brand’s message and value proposition . It’s all about how you’re going to say what you need to say.
For example, is your tone of voice serious or humorous? Are you marketing yourself as an expert in your industry? What is the message you want to get across?
7. Digital marketing strategy
Digital marketing probably doesn’t need much introduction… This marketing strategy will encompass all your online marketing, SEO , social media lead generation, performance marketing , and more…. Effectively, if it’s online, it should be covered by your digital marketing strategy.
8. Internal marketing strategy
Although internal marketing will be less vital for SMBs, it can be a vital part of the marketing efforts for large companies. A good example of an internal marketing strategy would be an internal email that lets employees know they’re eligible to become shareholders or asks existing shareholders to support a new initiative.
Internal marketing can also cover more mundane issues, such as keeping staff up to date on any changes to the company, branding, or internal procedures.
9. Public relations strategy
If you’re in business, you’ll probably know how complicated PR strategies can be. Not only does getting PR right ensure you keep your customers happy, but it’s also vital for protecting your brand image in the eyes of your stakeholders, the media, and even governmental bodies or other influential institutions.
Any large business should have a dedicated PR team in charge of the brand’s public image. In addition to protecting it, good PR can also offer invaluable word-of-mouth advertising.
10. SEO strategy
SEO should form part of all the different marketing strategies. Still, you may find it beneficial to have some of your marketing efforts explicitly dedicated to SEO, as this is likely to be your primary source of lead generation.
SEO (or Search Engine Optimization) is pretty much what it says on the tin: the art of using keywords and phrases to boost your visibility when users search for relevant terms on the internet. Getting SEO right is arguably the best way to drive traffic to your website and should be front of mind in all your digital marketing and content marketing strategies.
Naturally, SEO goes beyond just keyword optimization and considers a plethora of other aspects to help you rise on those search engine results pages (SERPs). So, it’s a good idea to have at least one marketing team member dedicated to the latest SEO trends so you can rank #1 on Google.
When it comes to strategic marketing strategies, there isn’t always a one-size-fits-all solution. Strategies can take many different forms, from word documents to flowcharts to slides… But although they can look different on the outside, the most effective marketing strategies will always have a few things in common.
If nothing else, your marketing strategy should cover the following questions:
Who are you trying to reach?
For this section, you need to really get into the mind of your target audience. This includes building detailed buyer personas and user personas, with information including their demographics, age, location, employment status, interests, passions, pain points, and anything else you can think of. The more detail you can include in your target market research, the better you will understand and communicate with your audience.
Where will you reach your potential customers?
As part of your research into your target audience, you should also spend some time considering the places (online and offline) where they spend their time. For many businesses today, most of your marketing strategies will probably be focused on social media. Still, even once you’ve narrowed this down, it can also be valuable to create marketing strategies for the various social media platforms and any other marketing channels you would like to use.
What action do you want people to take?
The answer to this question will fuel your Call - to - Action phrases and is essentially nailing down the goals of your entire marketing campaign. Do you want to drive more website traffic? Increase sales? Raise awareness for a new product? Get more followers on social media? Boost your search results rankings? Whatever your goals are, having them clearly laid out as part of your digital marketing strategy is essential.
How will you inspire potential customers to take action?
The next question leads off this, and it’s about how you’re going to convince or inspire consumers to take the desired action. This could incorporate discount codes, summer sales, referral programs, or you could even let your brand, product, or service speak for itself if you’re just hoping to build awareness.
How will you measure success?
If you have no KPIs or objective method for measuring the success of your marketing campaign, you really have no way of monitoring whether or not your campaigns are working! Having clear, measurable goals and precise targets you can see whether you’re hitting are essential for an effective marketing strategy. For eg, if your target is to get more followers on Instagram for your brand… It’s easy to see when you’re on track. However, you’ll want to dive deeper than this, with goals for conversions, weekly and monthly targets, etc.
Top 11 great marketing strategy examples and 1 you shouldn’t follow
Now you have an idea of what a marketing strategy is and how to write some of the best marketing strategies, we wanted to give you some great marketing strategies examples so you can see how these work in the real world.
These examples of marketing strategies of a business will provide you with plenty of inspiration for your own campaigns and help you ace the advertising industry. Plus, we’ve included a bonus example of when a marketing strategy didn’t quite go to plan… Take a look!
1. Spotify: offering an alternative user experience
Spotify is the go-to music streaming service for most people around the world, but what is it that makes them stand out?
Spotify’s key marketing efforts focus on how the brand is different from other services, providing users with the chance to discover new music with ease and even lets you filter tracks by mood as well as genre. The artificial intelligence in Spotify’s algorithms provides users with carefully curated, bespoke playlists that actually suit their tastes and manages to turn playing music or listening to a podcast into a whole new experience.
2. Nordstrom: Retargeting campaigns
Nordstrom is well-known for dominating when it comes to marketing, and this campaign was remarkably successful. Employing the latest retargeting technology and tactics, Nordstrom was able to dramatically boost its bottom line and reduce cart abandonment. This campaign primarily utilized abandoned cart emails alongside social media ads that were activated following a website visit from the user.
3. GoPro: User-generated content
GoPro certainly isn’t the first – or the last – company to achieve success with a user-generated-content-led marketing strategy, but that doesn’t make it any less effective or worthy of inclusion in our list! As a brand dedicated to creating on-the-go, fast content, the product lends itself nicely to this marketing tactic, so GoPro can benefit from a “spectacular” Instagram feed without needing a huge budget to take the images itself. And what’s more, each user-generated image that ends up on the feed motivates others to snap pics and share their experiences.
4. Sephora: Loyalty programs
Loyalty programs are a bit of a tale as old as time for maximizing customer retention, but that doesn’t mean all loyalty programs are created equal. Sephora discovered the trick to innovative, inspiring loyalty programs with its tiered approach and generous rewards. These rewards provide plenty of incentive for users to buy and are a fantastic way of increasing word-of-mouth marketing.
5. Rainforest alliance: “Follow the Frog.”
These days, the top online stores all offer information about how they engage in sustainable practices, have cruelty-free manufacturing, and/or how they support charities and initiatives around the world. Rainforest Alliance’s “ Follow the Frog ” campaign tapped into this priority by offering B2B and B2C organizations the chance to demonstrate their commitment to the environment and sustainability with a green frog seal on their products and website. This became a well-known symbol that’s highly desirable to other brands in all industries.
6. Twitch: Niche-specific marketing
Many brands make the mistake of trying to market their product or service to a target audience that’s simply too broad. But that only leads to a confusing message and few real customers. Instead, follow the lead of the social streaming service, Twitch. This company wasted no time or money advertising to people who won’t be interested in what makes the brand unique… Instead, all its efforts went into establishing precisely who the niche market is and how to attract them.
7. Nike: “Just Do It” – promoting values
We are all familiar with Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan , but have you ever given the marketing plan behind it any thought? Well, Nike used to be a brand dedicated to providing athleticwear to athletes… But they changed their model to appeal to the masses and put values first. The “Just Do It” and “*If you have a body, you’re an athlete” campaigns have been instrumental in Nike’s prolonged success by making everyone feel included and welcomed.
8. Chipotle: Fun contests
Contests are always an effective way to build brand awareness or promote a new product. Chipotle’s 2020 social media contest came at a perfect time and gave the audience a fun and unique way of interacting with the brand. The contest was called “Chipotle Royalty” and involved users posting a TikTok video explaining why their Chipotle order was the best. The prizes? A chance to win $10,000 and have their order become a permanent menu fixture. Definitely worth a video!
9. Red Bull: Putting identify before products
Similar to Nike’s values before products , Red Bull prioritizes experiences and identity of risk-taking front-and-center when it comes to marketing. With Red Bull sponsorships covering everything from Red Bull Stratos (seriously, take a look, it’s really cool) to rallycross racing to Formula One, and so much more, Red Bull had made its identity and brand persona clear… And ensures we won’t forget it any time soon!
10. Starbucks: Making coffee into an experience and a lifestyle
Selling coffee certainly doesn’t sound like a unique endeavor, but Starbucks’ marketing team worked hard to create an experience that wasn’t just about the coffee. With an incredibly famous logo that can be spotted worldwide, Starbucks created a feeling of comfort, inclusion, and home that cannot be rivelled. Coschedule has an interesting, deep-dive article looking at Starbucks ‘ marketing strategy in more detail.
11. AllBirds: Humorous, transparent, sustainable
Allbirds’ goal was to create “the world’s most comfortable shoe.” And while they did seem to manage this, it’s not why we’re highlighting their marketing strategy. This strategy really stands out because of the consistent tone of voice and values visible in every piece of marketing, every web page, and every interaction with the brand. The quirky and humorous voice is highly memorable and matches the values of transparency, sustainability, and comfort.
12. Segway: Failed to identify pain points
Now we’ve considered some of the best marketing strategies of all time, we also wanted to look at one brand that didn’t do quite so well. When Segway was first introduced, the idea was that it would replace walking as the primary A-to-B method and could go up to 12.5mph. The primary reason Segway failed is because people didn’t want to stop walking, running, or cycling (among others). So, the pain point the device was built to solve wasn’t really a pain point at all, and Segway offered little benefit to users.
The lesson here? Do your target market research thoroughly , and don’t just build a product because you think it looks cool.
No matter how big or small your ad campaigns are, it’s essential to always support them with marketing strategies that summarize how you will convert browsers into consumers. To give you a head start at employing the best and most effective marketing techniques, ensure every strategy you create does the following:
Set specific goals
SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-based) goals are essential for an excellent marketing strategy. These will not only give you something to aim for, but they’ll also help you monitor your progress and hold you accountable.
Identify your target audience.
Correctly identifying your target audience, their passions, and their pain points is vital. As we learned from Segway, not having a thorough understanding of your audience and what they need/want is only ever going to be a recipe for disaster.
Identify your competition
There’s a lot to be learned from the competition. On the one hand, you can check on other businesses in your industry to see what they’re doing well and what their audience responds to. On the other hand, identifying your competition’s weaker points can be a brilliant springboard to help you find your unique selling proposition and help you stand out.
Choose the most effective platform
There’s no point in shouting about your products in a location your customers never visit. As part of your market research, you should also investigate where your customers spend their time online and offline. Then, build a marketing strategy using the platforms and channels your customers are already using.
Marketing strategies make it more likely that you’ll reach your goals
You don’t need to be a Fortune 500 company to invest in an effective marketing strategy and reap the benefits. Even small businesses need marketing to build brand awareness and get people interested. After all, even with the best products in the world, nobody will buy them if they don’t know who you are!
As the famous quote goes, “failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” And the research backs this up, with 313% of marketers being more likely to report success when they have a documented marketing strategy than those without.
So, don’t waste your precious time and money investing in poorly thought-out marketing campaigns. Instead, take the time to build a detailed plan and strategy with marketing tactics for success, and you’ll be sure to maximize your ROI in no time.
How do you create a marketing strategy?
Building a marketing strategy isn’t that different from writing a marketing plan… It’s just more detailed and niche than the overarching plan and focuses on one/two platforms at a time.
How do you write a marketing strategy example?
It’s worth (if you can) taking a look at some other successful marketing strategy examples from similar companies in your industry before writing your own if you’re not sure where to start. This will give you an idea of what has/hasn’t worked in the past and will enable you to cultivate a better strategy than the one before. Even if you can’t view the marketing strategy document, plenty of research is always necessary for any advertising campaign; the more information you have before you start, the better your marketing strategy will be.
What are the five marketing strategies?
The five “Ps” of marketing are Product, Price, Promotion, Place, and People. These “Ps” are essential to quality marketing efforts and should all be covered in your marketing strategy example.
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I'm a content manager at sixads. I'm fiery about marketing, writing and traveling, so you can often find me scribbling away in some unknown corner of the world. If you want to know more ways to increase traffic and attract buyers to your online store get in touch with sixads on one of the channels bellow.
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8 Steps to Create a Complete Marketing Strategy in 2023
Published: October 26, 2023
Creating a marketing strategy is essential to effectively nurture your customers, improve your business’s bottom line, and increase the ROI of your efforts.
A marketing strategy is especially critical if you want to use the highest ROI trends for 2023 : short video, influencer marketing, and branded social media. To get powerful results, you must carefully weave both emerging trends and proven strategies into your plan.
Let's dive into the critical components of a complete marketing strategy in 2023, followed by some examples for inspiration.
A marketing strategy covers a company’s overall approach for promoting its brand to a target audience. The process involves research, goal-setting, and positioning.
A completed marketing strategy typically includes brand objectives, target audience personas, marketing channels, key performance indicators, and more.
A marketing strategy will:
- Align your team to specific goals.
- Help you tie your efforts to business objectives.
- Allow you to identify and test what resonates with your target audience.
- Empower you to capitalize on emerging trends.
The last one is especially important. Keeping up with marketing trends is important for your strategy, but could be a full-time job.
Why? Because almost 80% of marketers say this industry changed more in the last three years than it has in the past five decades. In short, what worked for your marketing strategy in the past might not fly today.
Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan
A marketing strategy outlines the long-term goals and overall approach, while a marketing plan covers the specific actions and tactics to achieve those goals.
Phrased another way, marketing strategy guides the overall marketing efforts of a business. It includes goal-setting, market and competitor research, as well as messaging and positioning for a brand.
For example, say you're creating a marketing strategy for a new fashion brand. Your strategy might target young urban professionals and position the brand as trendy and affordable.
But a marketing plan is a detailed tactical roadmap. It outlines the specific actions and tactics that should achieve the marketing strategy's goals.
For example, the marketing plan for the fashion brand mentioned above might include:
- Targeted social media campaigns
- Influencer partnerships
- Online advertising timeline
Both a marketing strategy and a marketing plan are essential for a business's success.
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To succeed in the fast-paced marketing world — and maintain a sense of relevance with your audience — it's vital to stay ahead of the curve.
To help ease some of that uncertainty, we're going to show you step-by-step how to create a comprehensive marketing strategy. But first, let’s go over the individual components that make up a strong marketing strategy.
Marketing Strategy Components
- Marketing Mix (4 Ps of Marketing)
- Marketing Objectives
- Marketing Budget
- Competitive Analysis
- Segmentation, Targeting, & Positioning
- Content Creation (Including Trending Content)
- Metrics & Key Performance Indicators
1. Marketing Mix
The marketing mix, also known as the 4 Ps of marketing, is the preliminary document you must create to understand what you will be marketing, where you’ll be marketing it, and how you’ll be marketing it. The following P’s make up this framework:
- Product : What are you selling?
- Price : What is the price?
- Place : Where will you be selling the product?
- Promotion : Where will you be promoting the product?
You can then extrapolate this information into a full-fledged marketing plan for each promotional channel. It’s important to lay out the information in broad strokes so that you understand the overall direction of your marketing strategy.
2. Marketing Objectives
You can set your marketing objectives in conjunction with your 4 Ps, or right after. Either way, you should outline your marketing goals before building upon your strategy. Why? Because your goals will inform other components of the plan, including the budget and content creation process.
With every objective, you should aim to be as specific as possible. Try to create SMART marketing goals divided by channel or promotional tactic, and don’t forget that you can always come back and revise your goals as your priorities change.
3. Marketing Budget
A marketing budget is an essential element of your strategy. Without allocating funds to hiring the right talent, using the right software, advertising on the right channels, and creating the right content, your marketing strategy won’t have a powerful impact. To get a high return on investment, you must first invest.
Remember that you can always start small — hyper-focusing your budget on one or two efforts — and build upon them once you generate an ROI.
4. Competitive Analysis
Knowing your competition is key when creating a marketing strategy. Otherwise, you risk "yelling into the void" without measurable results. Worse, you won’t know whether you’re differentiating yourself enough from the competition and effectively drawing the attention of your intended audience.
You might already have an idea of who your competitors are, but it’s still essential to sit down and find them. You might end up uncovering a surprise competitor who’s vying for your target buyer’s attention and engagement.
5. Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning
Segmentation, targeting, and positioning (STP) refers to the process of delivering "more relevant, personalized messages to target audiences." In other words, rather than publishing posts and advertisements on a whim, you’ll go through a methodical process for creating content that resonates with your target buyer.
During the segmentation, targeting, and positioning process, you’ll take three steps:
- Identify your target audience . This process not only entails interviewing your current customers, but carrying out market research and creating buyer personas .
- Target a segment of your target audience . It’s best to speak to a narrow group of highly qualified buyers than to send your message out to everyone.
- Position your brand alongside other brands . What do you do better than your competitors? It’s essential to map this information when creating a marketing strategy.
6. Content Creation
Once you have your budget, competitive outlook, and STP information, it’s time to create your marketing content . But it’s essential to be strategic. For one, you don’t want to publish random content that doesn’t solve for the customer, and for two, you must aim to capitalize on emerging trends so that your brand enjoys high visibility in the marketplace.
The competition is fierce across all formats. According to HubSpot Research , "half of marketers are using videos, with 47% leveraging images, followed by 33% posting blogs articles, infographics (30%) and podcasts or other audio content (28%)." Of these, video has the highest ROI.
It’s even more essential to invest in trends that have a high ROI, such as short-form video, influencer marketing, and social media DMs.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in blogging , one of the most proven content marketing techniques. It’s simply important to know where to allot the most resources, especially if you have a limited budget.
7. Metrics & Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Last, but certainly not least, your marketing strategy must include metrics and key performance indicators to understand how well your strategies are working. The KPIs you choose will vary depending on your business type and preferred customer acquisition channels . Examples of KPIs include:
- Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
- Organic Traffic
- Conversion Rate
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)
Now, let’s dive into why it’s important to follow the steps of a marketing strategy.
Why is a marketing strategy important?
Without a defined strategy, you’ll essentially be throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. And that process will cost you money, time, and resources.
But a robust marketing strategy will reach your target audience. It has the power to turn people who've never heard of your brand into loyal repeat customers.
Here are just a few of the top reasons a marketing strategy is essential:
A marketing strategy outlines clear goals and defines the path to achieve them. It pulls together all marketing efforts within an organization for optimal effects.
Targets the Right Audience
A well-defined marketing strategy helps you find and understand your target audience. This helps your business tailor your messaging and positioning to reach the right people at the right time.
Builds Brand Identity
A marketing strategy helps you create a consistent and cohesive brand identity. This makes it easier to align all marketing initiatives for increased brand recognition and loyalty.
With analysis of market trends, competition, and customer behavior, marketing strategies help businesses find the most effective marketing channels and tactics to invest in. This helps businesses get the maximum return on investment.
A marketing strategy defines key metrics and performance indicators. This makes it easier for your business to measure and track the success of marketing initiatives. It also gives you what you need to make data-driven decisions and optimize future campaigns for better results.
Marketing Strategy Process
- Conduct market research.
- Define your goals.
- Identify your target audience and create buyer personas.
- Conduct competitive analysis.
- Develop key messaging.
- Choose your marketing channels.
- Create, track, and analyze KPIs.
- Present your marketing strategy.
1. Conduct market research.
Before you can begin creating your marketing strategy, you need to gather useful data for making informed decisions. Market research is like playing detective, but instead of solving crimes, you're uncovering juicy details about your customers.
Market research will help your businesses make data-driven decisions for your marketing strategy. It also makes it easier to understand your target market, find gaps, and make the most of your resources.
This process is essential for understanding your customers and adapting to changing trends. If you're new to this process, this complete market research guide and template can help.
Once you have the data you need, you’ll be ready to set some marketing goals.
2. Define your goals.
What do you want to achieve through your marketing efforts?
Whether it's increasing brand awareness, driving sales, or diversifying your customer base, well-defined goals will guide your marketing strategy.
Your marketing strategy goals should reflect your business goals. They should also offer clear direction for marketing efforts.
For example, say one of your business goals is to increase market share by 20% within a year. Your goal as a marketer could include expanding into new target markets, updating your brand, or driving customer acquisition.
Other marketing goals might be to increase brand awareness or generate high-quality leads. You might also want to grow or maintain thought leadership in your industry or increase customer value.
Defining clear goals provides direction and clarity, guiding marketing efforts toward desired outcomes. It helps with resource allocation, decision-making, and measuring the success of marketing initiatives.
This SMART goal guide can help you with more effective goal-setting.
3. Identify your target audience and create buyer personas.
To create an effective marketing strategy, you need to understand who your ideal customers are. Take a look at your market research to understand your target audience and market landscape. Accurate customer data is especially important for this step.
But it's not enough to know who your audience is. Once you've figured out who they are, you need to understand what they want. This isn't just their needs and pain points, it's how your product or service can solve their problems.
So, if you can't define who your audience is in one sentence, now's your chance to do it. Create a buyer persona that's a snapshot of your ideal customer.
For example, a store like Macy's could define a buyer persona as Budgeting Belinda, a stylish working-class woman in her 30s living in a suburb, looking to fill her closet with designer deals at low prices.
With this description, Macy's Marketing department can picture Budgeting Belinda and work with a clear definition in mind.
Buyer personas have critical demographic and psychographic information, including age, job title, income, location, interests, and challenges. Notice how Belinda has all those attributes in her description.
You don't have to create your buyer persona with a pen and paper. In fact, HubSpot offers a free template you can use to make your own (and it's really fun).
You can also use a platform like Versium , which helps you identify, understand, and reach your target audience through data and artificial intelligence.
Buyer personas should be at the core of your strategy.
4. Conduct competitive analysis.
Now that you have an understanding of your customers, it's time to see who you're competing with to get their attention.
To begin your competitive analysis, start with your top competitors. Reviewing their websites, content, ads, and pricing can help you understand how to differentiate your brand. It's also a useful way to find opportunities for growth.
But how do you know which competitors are most important? This competitive analysis kit with templates will walk you through the process. It will help you choose and evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, and strategies of your competitors.
This process will help you find market gaps, spot trends, and figure out which marketing tactics will be most effective. Competitive analysis can also offer valuable insights on pricing, positioning, and marketing channels.
5. Develop key messaging.
You've figured out who you're talking to, what they've already heard, and what they want to hear. Now, it's time to share your brand's unique value proposition .
In this step, you'll craft key messaging that shows the benefits of your product or service and resonates with your target audience. This process should show off the research and work you have done up to this point. It should also incorporate your creativity, inventiveness, and willingness to experiment.
Well-crafted key messaging:
- Sets businesses apart from the competition
- Resonates with the target audience
- Is flexible enough to be consistent across all marketing channels
- Builds brand credibility
- Creates an emotional connection with customers
- Influences buying decisions
The key messaging in your marketing strategy is critical to driving engagement, loyalty, and business growth. These value proposition templates can help if you're not sure how to draft this important messaging.
6. Choose your marketing channels.
You know what you have to say, now decide on the best marketing channels for your message. Your top goal for this stage of your strategy is to align your channel choices with your target persona's media consumption habits.
Start with media channels you're already using. Then, consider a mix of traditional and digital channels such as social media, TV, email marketing, podcast ads, SEO, content marketing, and influencer partnerships.
To streamline this process, think of your assets in three categories — paid, owned, and earned media.
Paid media is any channel you spend money on to attract your target audience. Most of this spending is advertising . This includes online and offline channels like:
- Direct mail
- Social media ads
- SEM (Search engine marketing)
- Podcast advertising
Owned media refers to (mostly) online channels your brand owns, including:
- Organic social media
It also refers to the media your marketing team creates such as
Another way to say earned media is user-generated content . Earned media includes:
- Shares on social media
- Posts about your business on X or Threads
- Reels posted on Instagram mentioning your brand
To decide which marketing channels are best for your marketing strategy, look carefully at each channel. Think about which channels are best for reaching your audience, staying within budget, and meeting your goals.
For example, a business targeting a younger demographic might consider using TikTok or Reddit to reach its audience.
Don't forget to take a look at emerging platforms and trends as you complete this review. You may also want to look at the content you've already created. Gather your materials in each media type in one location. Then, look at your content as a whole to get a clear vision of how you can integrate them into your strategy.
For example, say you already have a blog that's rolling out weekly content in your niche (owned media). You might consider promoting your blog posts on Threads (owned media), which customers might then repost (earned media). Ultimately, that will help you create a better, more well-rounded marketing strategy.
If you have resources that don't fit into your goals, nix them. This is also a great time to clean house and find gaps in your materials.
7. Create, track, and analyze KPIs.
Once you have a clear outline of your marketing strategy, you'll need to think about how you'll measure whether it's working.
At this stage, you'll shift from marketing detective to numbers nerd. With a little planning and prep, your analytics can unveil the mysteries of marketing performance and unlock super insights.
Review your strategy and choose measurable KPIs to track the effectiveness of your strategy. Create a system that works for your team to collect and measure your data.
Then, plan to check and analyze the performance of your strategy over time. This can help you refine your approach based on results and feedback.
Analyzing KPIs helps businesses stay agile, refine their strategies, and adapt to evolving customer needs.
8. Present your marketing strategy.
A finished marketing strategy will pull together the sections and components above. It may also include:
A concise overview that outlines the marketing goals, target audience, and key marketing tactics.
You may want to create a brand identity as part of your strategy. Brand positioning, voice, and visual identity may also be helpful additions to your marketing strategy.
Marketing Plan and Tactics
Your marketing plan is the specific actions you'll take to achieve the goals in your marketing strategy. Your plan may cover campaigns, channel-specific tactics, and more.
Not sure where to start? This free marketing plan template can help.
Download for Free
Defining a budget for your marketing strategy helps you show that your planned resource allocation aligns with business goals.
Timeline and Milestones
Marketing strategies can be complex and difficult for stakeholders to understand. Creating a timeline that outlines the different tactics, milestones, and deadlines can help.
Your marketing strategy is a living document. It will need constant reviews, revisions, and optimizations to meet your long-term goals. Prepare to revise your marketing strategy at least once a year to address market trends, customer feedback, and changing business objectives.
Here are a few tools that can help you track and measure the success of your marketing goals:
1. HubSpot Marketing Hub
The Marketing Hub allows you to connect all your marketing tools into one centralized platform.
Too often, you’ll find a tool that’s powerful but not easy to use. With this tool, you can attract users with blogs, SEO, and live chat tools. You can then convert and nurture those leads through marketing automation, the website and landing page builder, and lead tracking features.
With custom reporting and built-in analytics, you can analyze your data and plan out your next move. Plus, HubSpot Marketing Hub integrates with over 700 tools .
Pricing : Free; Starter, $20/month; Professional, $890/month; Enterprise, $3,600/month.
Trello keeps your marketing team on track and openly communicating about the projects they're working on. Create boards for individual campaigns, editorial calendars, or quarterly goals.
Built-in workflows and automation capabilities keep communication streamlined, and simplicity keeps your marketing team focused on the work that matters.
Pricing : Free; Standard Class, $5/month; Premium Class, $10/month for 100 users; Enterprise, $17.50/month for 250 users.
TrueNorth is a marketing management platform built to help you hit your marketing goals. Built specifically for marketing teams, TrueNorth turns your marketing strategy into a visual projection of your growth, which is used to create monthly milestones that help you stay on track.
One of the key benefits of TrueNorth is that it centralizes all your ideas, campaigns, and results in one place, with everything tied back to your goal.
Pricing : $99/month (free for 14 days).
Everything on Monday.com starts with a board or visually driven table. Create and customize workflows for your team and keep groups, items, sub-items, and updates synced in real time.
You can also transform data pulled from timeline and Gantt views to track your projects on Monday.com to make sure you're meeting your deadlines. Plus, with more than 40 integrations — from SurveyMonkey to Mailchimp and, of course, HubSpot — you can visualize your data and make sure your whole company is collaborating.
Pricing : Basic, $8/month/seat; Standard, $10/month/seat; Pro, $16/month/seat; Enterprise, contact for pricing.
SEO continues to be a huge factor in the successful ranking of your website.
SEMrush allows you to run a technical SEO audit, track daily rankings, analyze your competitor's SEO strategy, research millions of keywords, and even source ideas for earning more organic traffic.
But the benefits don't stop at SEO. Use SEMRush for PPC, building and measuring an effective social media strategy, content planning, and even market research.
Pricing : Pro, $129/month; Guru, $249/month; Business, $499/month.
BuzzSumo allows you to analyze data to enhance and lead your marketing strategy, all while exploring high-performing content in your industry.
Use the platform to find influencers who may help your brand reach, track comments, and find trends to make the most of every turn.
As your needs evolve, you can also use their crisis management and video marketing tools.
Pricing : Content Creation, $199/month; PR&Comms, $299/month; Suite, $499/month; Enterprise, $999/month.
7. Crazy Egg
Need to optimize your website this year? Consider getting started with Crazy Egg. You'll be able to identify "attention hotspots" on your product pages, track ad campaign traffic on your site, and understand if shoppers are clicking where you want them to.
You can even make sure your "Buy Now" buttons are in the best place.
Crazy Egg also offers recordings, A/B testing, and more to help make sure your website is offering the best user experience.
Pricing : Basic, $29/month; Standard, $49/month; Plus, $99/month; Pro, $249/month; Enterprise, contact for pricing.
Examples of Successful Marketing Strategies
1. regal movies, digital strategy: owned media.
This "Guess the Monday Movie" question is a fun, interactive way to get followers invested in Regal's content:
Regal's Instagram post is an example of owned media because the company was in full control of the answers followers gave (and, apparently, they’re hoping for fewer horror movies).
Regal kept true to their brand by asking viewers to guess the secret movie. And this is a popular type of post for this brand. In only two hours, it has over 800 likes and 64 comments.
2. La Croix
Digital strategy: user-generated content, earned media.
User-generated content is one of the best ways to gain traction in your strategy.
It demonstrates your appreciation for loyal customers, builds community, and incentivizes other users to promote your products for the chance at a similar shout-out.
Plus, sometimes the content your brand loyalists create is really, really good.
In this case, the consumer is creating a handmade needlepoint featuring the brand’s product.
3. Small Girls PR
Small Girls PR is a boutique PR company based in New York, and one of the company's talents is connecting with amazing clients. This post on Instagram is an effective marketing example, as it boosts awareness for your brand and offers social proof by featuring high-profile clients.
Digital strategy: paid media.
Design agency Superside launched an Instagram ad to promote a lead magnet: Their digital ad design guide. While the brand may have created the guide specifically for paid promotions, it’s also possible that they repurposed a high-performing blog post into a downloadable ebook.
In this case, all they had to do was repackage their current content, build an ad around it with creative assets, and run it.
In previous sections, we discussed the power of leveraging multiple forms of media in your marketing strategy. This is a great example of it.
Digital Strategy: Owned Media, Influencer Partnership
If you've got the time for influencer partnerships, take full advantage of it.
Influencer marketing is when you partner with influencers, to promote your content on their site. By doing this, your content reaches new audiences you might not be able to reach organically:
This post from Target highlights new apparel from a trusted partner. More social channels are offering ways for shoppers to purchase in-app or close to it, driving sales and boosting exposure for brands.
What to Expect After Following Your Marketing Process Steps
Ultimately, creating a complete marketing strategy isn't something that can happen overnight. It takes time, hard work, and dedication to confirm you're reaching your ideal audience, whenever and wherever they want to be reached.
Stick with it (and use some of the resources we've included in this post), and over time, research and customer feedback will help you refine your strategy to make sure you're spending most of your time on the marketing channels your audience cares most about.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in October 2019. It has been updated for freshness and accuracy.
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Easy Step-by-Step Guide to the Marketing Planning Process
An effective marketing planning process ensures your efforts are focused, your objectives are clear, and your campaigns are both creative and results-driven. It acts as a roadmap that keeps your marketing activities on track.
In this guide, we will walk you through the marketing planning process, breaking down its steps, highlighting its benefits with templates for practical use and showing you how to create a well-coordinated, strategic marketing plan.
What is a Marketing Planning Process?
Marketing planning process steps, benefits of a marketing planning process, who are involved in the marketing planning process, when to use the marketing planning process, how to improve your marketing planning process using creately.
The marketing planning process is a systematic series of steps that businesses and marketing teams follow to create a strategic plan for their marketing activities.
This process involves setting clear objectives, analyzing the market and competition, defining target audiences, selecting marketing strategies and tactics, creating a budget, and establishing timelines for execution. It makes sure that marketing efforts are well-organized, goal-oriented, and aligned with the company’s overall business objectives.
Regular assessment and adjustments are also part of the process to maximize the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.
Here’s how to create a marketing plan with 6 effective steps .
Marketing planning toolkit
The marketing planning toolkit is a complete collection of tools, templates, and resources that you can use to streamline and improve your marketing planning processes. It serves as a centralized hub for essential materials that help with the development, execution, and evaluation of marketing strategies. This toolkit is designed to simplify planning, collaboration, and analysis, catering to the diverse needs of marketing teams.
The marketing planning process typically involves several key steps, which are as follows:
Set clear objectives
Start by defining specific and measurable marketing objectives. These objectives should align with the broader business goals and provide a clear direction for your marketing efforts.
Know your Market
Conduct a thorough analysis of the market, including an analysis of your competition , industry trends, and customer behavior. Understanding the market landscape is essential for crafting effective strategies.
Identify your target audience
Define your ideal customers or target audience segments. Understand their demographics, preferences, and pain points to tailor your marketing efforts accordingly.
Learn how to find your idea customer with our guide on target audience analysis .
Develop your strategy
Identify the overarching marketing strategies that will help you achieve your objectives. This may include product positioning, pricing strategies, distribution channels, and promotional tactics.
Create a detailed action plan that outlines the specific marketing activities and campaigns you’ll implement. This step should include timelines, budgets, and responsibilities for each task.
Allocate a budget
Allocate financial resources to various marketing activities in a way that ensures cost-effectiveness and supports the achievement of objectives.
Implement your plan
Execute the planned marketing activities, such as content creation, advertising, social media campaigns, and more. Make sure that these activities are aligned with the strategy and tactics outlined in the plan.
Monitor and measure results
Continuously track and measure the performance of your marketing efforts. Use key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to evaluate the success of your campaigns.
Adjust and optimize
Based on the data and insights gathered from monitoring, be prepared to make necessary adjustments to your marketing strategies and tactics to improve performance and better achieve your objectives.
An effective marketing planning process offers several key benefits to businesses and marketing professionals, such as:
Clarity and focus : An effective marketing planning process gives a clear purpose and direction for marketing efforts making sure that everyone involved understands what is expected of them.
Alignment with business objectives : Marketing plans are designed to align closely with the broader business goals, making sure that marketing efforts contribute directly to the company’s success.
Efficient resource allocation : It helps in allocating resources, such as time and budget, more efficiently, reducing the risk of wasted efforts or overspending on ineffective strategies.
Risk mitigation : By conducting market research and careful planning, it minimizes the risk of investing in campaigns or strategies that may not resonate with the target audience or market conditions.
Measurable results : Marketing plans include clear objectives and metrics for success, making it easier to measure the impact of marketing activities and make data-driven decisions.
Consistency and coherence : It helps make sure that marketing efforts are consistent across various channels and messages, creating a unified brand image.
Increased collaboration : The planning process involves various team members and stakeholders, fostering collaboration and ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
Competitive advantage : A well-planned marketing strategy can give a business a competitive edge by identifying and capitalizing on unique selling points and market opportunities.
The marketing planning process typically involves various individuals and roles within an organization.
- Marketing team : Responsible for developing and executing marketing strategies.
- Senior management : Provides guidance and approval for the overall marketing strategy.
- Sales team : Collaborates to ensure alignment with sales objectives.
- Product managers : Offer insights into product positioning.
- Market research analysts : Provide data-driven insights.
- Creative teams : Contribute to content and materials.
- Finance department : Manages budget and resource allocation.
- External agencies : Collaborate on strategy and execution.
- Legal and compliance teams : Ensure adherence to regulations.
- IT and technology teams : Implement marketing technology.
- Customer service and support : Offer customer feedback insights.
- Suppliers and partners : Involved in collaborations or partnerships.
The marketing planning process is essential whenever a business wants to introduce a new product, expand its market reach, rebrand, or improve its competitive position. It’s also crucial during times of significant change, such as mergers, market shifts, or when there’s a need to address declining sales.
Moreover, it’s beneficial for startups looking to establish a market presence or for established companies aiming to refresh their strategies. Essentially, whenever there’s a need for a clear, structured approach to achieve marketing goals or when there’s uncertainty in the market, the marketing planning process becomes an invaluable tool for guiding successful marketing initiatives.
Creately serves as a versatile, collaborative space where marketing professionals can visually brainstorm, plan, and execute their marketing strategies efficiently, making the marketing planning process more dynamic and accessible.
Start by setting up a virtual workspace on Creately. Create boards that represent different aspects of your marketing plan, such as market analysis, user personas, objectives, strategies, and tactics.
Invite your marketing team to the workspace and encourage them to brainstorm ideas visually . Use digital sticky notes, brainstorming templates from the in-app templates library, and text to capture insights, objectives, and strategies. This collaborative approach allows for a diverse range of ideas.
Embed market research findings, competitor analyses, and relevant data into your workspace. Or attach documents, reports, etc. under the notes section of relevant shapes. This provides a shared resource for the team to reference during planning.
Use Creately’s visual mapping tools to outline the customer journey, sales funnel, or any visual representation that helps convey your strategies and tactics more effectively. Additionally you can also find templates for these from the in-app template library or the templates community on the site.
Assign tasks and responsibilities with shape data. You can use Kanban boards and task cards to create tasks and assign them to team members and track their progress.
Creately allows real-time collaboration with real-time multi-user editing, comments, Microsoft Teams integration, etc. so team members can work together, even remotely. It’s perfect for cross-functional teams working on marketing planning.
Presentation and sharing
Once your marketing plan is ready, you can export it for presentations or sharing with stakeholders. Creately offers various export options to ensure your marketing plan reaches the right audience effectively.
An effective marketing planning process is your key to successful marketing strategies. By setting goals, understanding your market, and creating a well-structured plan, you’ve laid the groundwork for marketing success. With the right approach, your marketing efforts will not only be creative but also well-aimed at achieving your business goals.
Join over thousands of organizations that use Creately to brainstorm, plan, analyze, and execute their projects successfully.
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Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.
The Four Pillars of a Go To Market Plan (with Examples)
- By Barry Magee
- November 16, 2023
Each year, when the go-to-market planning cycle begins, the crucial question leaders must answer is — where should we place the bets? Do we double down on the virtualization market or focus on expanding into cybersecurity? Which markets should we enter and where should we allocate sales?
Even though go-to-market (GTM) strategy isn’t a betting sport, it often feels like one. Because just like at the blackjack table, go-to-market planning discussions usually boil down to one thing: where to place the bets.
However, the key element to any successful go-to-market plan is not having made the right bets, but having a plan in place that allows you to operationalize those bets. Because regardless of how you play the cards, it’s up to you to bring your GTM plan to life. In this article, I’ll share the four pillars of a go-to-market plan and how to leverage the right insights in your sales strategy to know the markets to enter, where to allocate headcount, and which accounts to prioritize. I’ll also share a few go-to-market plan examples from use cases in which this framework is applied. This four-pillar methodology focuses on building ROI and productivity results and will help you become a lot more scientific in your approach to GTM planning.
The Importance of Optimizing Your Go To Market Plan
With the current economic climate, the wriggle room businesses once had in budget, KPIs, OKRs, or performance in general, has evaporated. Everyone is being forced to run their business on a much tighter basis, yet hit the same amount of revenue from a smaller budget than in the past. To hit the same targets with fewer resources, you have to become a lot more scientific in your go-to-market planning process.
The idea that we do the same GTM strategy, then apply a smaller budget and expect the same results, doesn’t stick. Moreover, on an organizational basis, you lose productivity when you do this. That’s not a sustainable GTM plan in the long run and why optimization is crucial.
Today, you must take an integrated approach to your planning process if you want to hit your targets. This is how to bridge the gap between knowing where to place the bets and manifesting your plan throughout the business — from your marketing, business development, and sales teams, all the way down to your enterprise reps, customer success, and account planning.
The Four Pillars of a Go To Market Plan
To optimize your go-to-market plan, start by looking at your business as a whole. Whether you’re the CEO or the head of field marketing for one region, look at your business systematically and how the parts interact and compound.
There are four key components in go-to-market planning. These four pillars are very simple and repeatable. And the idea is that you can apply these general practice principles and scale them, whether you’re looking to disrupt a market or capture wallet share. The four pillars of a go-to-market plan are:
Let’s dive into each of these pillars in more detail.
Pillar 1: Profile Your Customer
The first pillar of a GTM plan is centered on customer profiling. While companies are becoming more data-driven in how they profile, they tend to follow the same path in how a potential customer is scored. For example, if an offering is scored as a value proposition, it is usually scored generically and is only given one score.
However, no one pursues their entire TAM, SAM, SOM . To hone in on your target market, you have to identify the customers most likely to buy your product or service. You can efficiently profile your customer, and each offering within a customer, in three steps:
1. Score your target customer
Score each customer based on how well they fit your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) . Ask yourself:
- Do they fit your value proposition?
- Do they fit the archetype of an organization with a problem your business can help solve?
If the customer meets these criteria, the next step is to determine how much undiscovered need they have. For instance, the customer may have a problem, but that doesn’t mean they know they have one, or acknowledge it. This is called “undiscovered need.”
For example, if you’re selling a cloud application, you could identify customers who have on-premise workloads. Could you help solve their pain points? Yes. But do they want your help? Do they recognize their pain points? Maybe not. That’s why the first thing to do in customer profiling is to score accounts based on whether or not they fit your business archetype, and whether they have an undiscovered need.
2. Understand the customer’s need
The second step is to break down your target customer based on need. For account profiling, ask yourself these questions:
- Do they need you?
- Do they recognize they have a problem?
- Are they starting to marshal internal resources, so you can see evidence that they’re tackling this business problem?
If the account checks all of these boxes they have what we call discovered need, which is much easier to act on than undiscovered need.
For example, if we can see an organization has Anaplan, we know this organization is likely solidifying its operations. It’s trying to structure its territory planning and deploy quotas in a more structured way. If it’s a startup, they’ve got other competitors, so we know they’re already on the way to becoming data-driven. Then, we use data to see if they have an ABM platform , which makes the company a good fit for our product or services.
These observations are leading indicators that a target customer has discovered need. Not only can we see that they are growing in a space we can help with, but they’re already starting to solve problems.
3. Know when the customer is in a buying cycle
The third, and perhaps the most critical component of customer profiling is to identify whether a potential customer is in a buying cycle.
Just because a client has discovered need, it doesn’t mean they’re in a buying cycle. Industry data shows that 10% of the market is in-market and searching for a product or service like yours at any given time. This makes it critical to distinguish which customers are in-market in Q1, versus Q2, and versus Q3. This can be made visible using HG’s Contextual Intent data .
The reason this is so critical is because when you target in-market customers it has a profound impact on your conversion rates. If you only do a homogeneous score, without considering a customer’s actual propensity to buy, you’ll struggle to get above a 2% conversion rate.
However, if you shift to scoring accounts for fit, need, and buyer intent, I guarantee you will get a 10% conversion rate. Because when you use intent data, you can see the customers who are in the market right now, and they will usually convert at a rate of 20%.
Pillar 2: Prioritize Accounts
Now that you’ve scored your customers for fit, need, and intent, the next step in optimizing your go-to-market plan is to prioritize accounts.
Traditionally, organizations take a standard approach, which is to prioritize accounts that are the biggest. But this strategy will deflate your conversion rates. A more evolved approach is to determine what each customer is worth to your organization.
To do this, you need to prioritize customers based on the services or products they’re already using and what you could sell them. This is how much each customer is potentially worth. You can uncover this information using Technology Intelligence tools.
When you prioritize accounts based on fit, instead of targeting the customers who are the biggest, you’re focused on the customers most likely to convert. And a high conversion rate, even of smaller potential value, aggregates over time.
To illustrate, let’s take a list of customers and score them for fit, need, and intent across a portfolio of offerings. In this case, I use the HG Platform to see this information. Then, we combine it into an x-factor.
As you can see in the example above, the x-factor calculates the customer who fits your archetype the best, has discovered need, is marshaling resources, and is in a buying cycle. Those customers are practically waiting for you with a purchase order — they will convert at very high rates. If you prioritize accounts like this, you can optimize for pipeline or revenue in any given quarter.
Pillar 3: Segment Your Accounts
The third pillar of go-to-market planning is around segmentation. This is different from the traditional way of segmentation, which divides target accounts by small business vs. mid-market vs. enterprise. Instead, think about segmentation in terms of resource constraints and how to help decision-makers choose between competing trade-off options.
For example, if you have a $200k marketing budget for the quarter and you’ve got 20 SDRs, how do you prioritize the bandwidth you have, including thinking about headcount and how many calls your sales team can make?
To determine which accounts you can feasibly pursue with a high win rate, take your need and intent scores and put them on an axis. Always go after the customers in the top right-hand corner. These are the target accounts that have the highest discovered need and the ones that have the highest buying signals. I determine this using HG Insights’ Platform .
Think of segmentation as a trade-off position. As you can see in the example above, the white space bucket is really big, but the expansion bucket is also large, and that’s what you’re after. Target customers who have the most compelling problems that they’re trying to solve, and the ones who are in the most aggressive buying cycles.
You may be wondering, what vertical or industry should you focus on? Indeed, there are lots of different industries and verticals.
To decide where to focus your efforts, create your map again, but render it based on the vertical. Suppose now it says, “enterprise mobility, cyber security software, peripherals, and fixed data.” These are your customers. These are the industries with the most compelling problems and the ones in the most aggressive buying cycles. They’re the companies that will convert. Whether you’re an SDR or marketing leader, or in sales ops and designing a territory for next year, this is where the money is.
Pillar 4: Operationalize Your Go To Market Plan
So you’ve done all the calculations, thinking, and scoring — how do you put these insights into the hands of your SDRs, marketers, CSMs, or the head of strategy? It’s time to bring your go-to-market to life.
The fourth pillar of a successful GTM plan is to operationalize your strategy.
No one wants another spreadsheet, frankly. No one needs more data. But everyone at your organization needs the insights the data can give.
To operationalize your GTM strategy, think like a product manager. Ask yourself, “Who are the people I’m trying to help with my data, and what are they trying to solve?” Are you helping a seller, marketer, strategy person, or executive? Are you helping them with market planning and competitive analysis, or segmentation and account planning?
Based on your answers, create a unique view for each department at your company. Because if you’re a marketer, you need different strategies for solving a segmentation problem vs. an ABM problem. When you approach the data like a product manager, you can successfully operationalize your go-to-market plan across your entire organization.
Key Takeaways for Building Your Go To Market Plan
To summarize, bring these four elements together to build an efficient go-to-market plan.
- Profile each customer based on your company’s offerings and the customer’s fit vs. need vs. intent
- Prioritize accounts to maximize yield . Even if it’s a small account, prioritize the accounts that have the highest probability of converting
- Segment your accounts in terms of resource trade-offs. Focus on the accounts that have the highest potential to convert, because that’s where the money is
- Operationalize your go-to-market plan by treating your data as if it’s an internal product in its own right
Lastly, you can use ROI calculators to see the potential impact on your organization if you execute your GTM plan in this manner. This proven methodology can help you get the exacting precision needed to build a successful go-to-market and operationalize it across your entire organization. Good luck and happy planning!
About HG Insights
HG Insights, the provider of data-driven insights to 90% of tech companies in the Fortune 100, is your go-to-market Technology Intelligence partner.
We use advanced insights into Technology Intelligence — on IT spend, technographics, cloud usage, intent signals, Functional Area Intelligence, and contract details — to provide global B2B companies with a better way to analyze markets and target prospects. Our customers achieve unprecedented results in their marketing and sales programs thanks to the indexing of billions of unstructured documents each day with insights into product adoption, usage, spend data, and more to build high-resolution maps of activity across an organization’s entire digital infrastructure to power business decisions with precision and confidence.
To learn more about our Technology Intelligence and how to use it in your go-to-market planning, reach out ! Our team is standing by.
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