“In marketing I’ve seen only one strategy that can’t miss - to market to your best customers first.” John Romero
While everybody understands the purpose of marketing, aka to make your business visible and attractive to your target audience, we are none the wiser when it comes to creating a winning strategy. Too many companies approach marketing strategy with a pre-designed template that determines a high-level course of actions. As such, marketing plan templates online provides a process overview that is easy to replicate. It’s not uncommon to rely on online expert articles to set up marketing goals. From using industry-standard KPI as objectives to finding inspirations in viral campaigns, it’s surprisingly easy to create a marketing plan that is unfit for your business. To avoid costly mistakes, businesses need to ask the right questions about their marketing strategies.
However impactful your message is, it needs to remain visible and credible for your audience to engage. Credibility is all about sharing relevant, valuable, and measurable data. On the other hand, being visible depends as much on your marketing channels as your content. No company can afford to face legal consequences for putting forward a potentially harmful message. It’s a good idea to reach out to a business lawyer to figure out whether you’re allowed to mention your competitors, for example. Dealing with trade libel complications could not only hinder your message influence but also put a stop to your marketing strategy. It’s no surprise that many brands actively stay away from competitor comparisons!
Marketing data are at the heart of your audience segmentation. Yet, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data available. How much of it is going to be useful in your marketing plan? Market segmentation involves splitting your audience into specific groups based on the data you collect. Typically, businesses focus on demographic data, including gender, age, and location. Yet, demographic segmentation can miss the point of customer profiling. Ultimately, your customers are distinctive buyer personas, defined by their lifestyle, attitudes, interests, aspirations, and self-perceptions. As long as you can’t create realistic and data-driven portraits that outline micro audience groups in detail, you are not using your data correctly. Sticking to generic segments will lead to failure.
More and more companies are embracing popular tech to spread their message. However, not all online platforms offer reliable digital security. For instance, a platform such as WhatsApp, which can be used as a replacement for SMS campaigns, could put customers at risk. WhatsApp will be sharing data with Facebook for customers who are not affected by the GDPR. Which data will be visible to Facebook is unclear. Yet, we can assume that your customers' data could be matched for further advertising purposes. Unfortunately, the public is becoming more suspicious of the messaging app and Facebook as a result of data privacy concerns. Therefore, it’s a good idea to choose your marketing channels carefully to avoid a backlash reaction.
It is a fine balance to address the current trends of your sector without looking and sounding like every single one of your competitors. At the same time, you can’t afford to go against popular trends as your audience expects to find these. Developing a brand’s unique personality and strategy is no easy task in a fast-paced environment. Ideally, you want to focus your attention on reliable and sustainable trends, while identifying the brand USP. In theory, it sounds logical enough. Yet, in practice, many marketing strategies can either turn into a headless chicken race to jump on all the latest trend movements or appear controversial by rejecting all trends. Differentiate yourself while moving in the same direction.
Timing is a deciding factor for success. Every marketer understands the rule of timing in their marketing campaigns.
Indeed, standards show that big decisions happen on Monday while Thursday and Friday are better suited for budget-savvy offers. At a granular level, marketers have a helpful schedule of when during the day emails or social media campaigns are more effective. However, many are missing the big picture. It’s a case of nothing seeing the forest from the trees. With so much granular knowledge, marketers can schedule their campaign up to a specific date and hour. But they sometimes miss on other essential timing elements, such as sending offers that do not fit in the current world situation – aka businesses that prepare holiday packages during the pandemic.
You wouldn’t consider sending a Chinese version of your message to your EU-based customers. But, you could still fail to speak their language, and therefore waste your marketing effort. The use of industry jargon, for instance, could be confusing for some customers. Depending on the level of knowledge of your audience groups, it’s a good idea to avoid jargon or explain it if it is unavoidable. Another common mistake is to rely on reheated cliché phrases that are used everywhere. They end up losing their meaning, and the engagement with your marketing campaign drops dramatically.
Shampoo and skincare ads on TV are famous for sharing meaningless metrics about their products.
85% of users agree that our shampoo reduces scalp itchiness.
Except that the small lines mention that only 15 people took part in the survey. As such, 85% of users would mean less than 13 individuals. Customers who pay attention to the message can’t help but feel cheated by the promotional communication. If you don’t have sufficient or reliable test groups, the last thing you want is to boast about your results. It could affect the reputation and trustworthiness of the brand.
Ideally, if you can’t mention test groups, you can rely on advocates and influencers to promote your brand. Social media influencers are popular for marketers, as they can reach out to their followers to present your product/ service. While influencer marketing can be highly effective, it is something to take lightly. Social media influencers can be subject to backlash for promoting products they don’t use or know. Additionally, an influencer who’s dealing with a brand crisis online – often caused by controversial or extremist views – is likely to harm the business.
Your marketing strategy is an open communication path between the business and the audience. Customers are vocal about their experience of a brand. Google My Business reviews, social media content, and TrustPilot are some of the channels you need to consider at the start of your strategy. They can highlight challenges that need to be addressed effectively in your strategy. Negative reviews are unpleasant but they give you the key to regain your audience trust with a strategic response.
Marketers are constantly looking for inspiration. Many worry, however, that monitoring competitors could be counterproductive. Ultimately, your competitors share the same audience as you. Therefore, there’s a lot to be said about getting familiar with their marketing campaigns and communications. You can’t afford to ignore what they’re doing and saying. Firstly, if your content is similar but your timing’s off, customers could assume that you’re copying competitors. Secondly, they could provide inspiration to adjust your USP and get a competitive edge.
In conclusion, bringing your marketing strategy to the next level requires a fair and thorough observation of your campaign shortcomings. You need to be critical of existing activities to improve them. While it can be uncomfortable to question your marketing efforts, the process will help transform and refresh your strategy. In short, ask first, then plan.