Did you know that despite the benefits an estimated 44% of businesses don’t have a defined digital plan or strategy*? If you are one of those people, just know that it’s okay and that hopefully by the end of this post you’ll be one step closer to creating one.
I like to say that not having a marketing strategy is like going to the shops without a shopping list. Sure, you can get by, get the things you want and leave but most of the time you’ll end up with extras, things you don’t actually need or want. You’ll post simply because you can with no focus or purpose, often giving into temptations that you wouldn’t normally do. Which can be fine for a while but is it sustainable? Are you giving your audiences what they need? Is their thought behind what you are posting? Are you spending longer than needed getting things right?
That’s where a strategy comes. A strategy is a document which outlines the course of action you will take to attract audiences and customers through your marketing.
But why are they so important?
A marketing strategy allows businesses to both look back at previous performance while also looking ahead to the oncoming period with the purpose of honing in on how you and your business do marketing a purposeful way that holds value and is sustainable.
By looking back you give yourself time to reflect on who the business is, why they are the way they are and how any marketing reflects this. It’s the perfect time to consider whether or not your apporach to marketing has to change. It also the perfect time to think about your customers and to think like your customers. Afterall, a strategy as stated above is about attracting audiences and turning them into customers. By thinking like your customers you are able to understand their pain points and what they need from services and products that they use and how you match those needs.
With these needs and reflections on the past of the business, a strategy then allows you to form a direction, a focus to work on for the duration of the strategy period. You do this by aligning goals and outcomes to what your business and audience needs.
For me, one of my goals is to raise awareness of what I do resulting in my audiences becoming customers. I will raise awareness by making educational and informative content based on my journey and knowledge on the industry.
By aligning goals you can then start to think of what content and messages to share and if there are ways to reuse what you have done in the past to achieve this goal. This step then becomes a stepping stone for the creation of content. A strategy then becomes a plan of action, a focal point that you can refer to throughout the duration of it to see if you are aligning your marketing to it and how its performing, thus hopefully saving you time and money while also resulting in a positive outcome.
A strategy can also be used to give you guidance, afterall with the reflections and research you do throughout the process you may begin to see trends and patterns form, you may also discover new opportunites you never thought about, you may even discover more about your business than you realised. That for me is a powerful thing about a strategy.
When I worked on my strategy for the year I realised looking back that my educational content wasn’t as educational as I thought. They had no clear message within them and my social feeds although astetically structured had no real focus.
The point to note is that a strategy isn’t something that can be created over night. As my above points show a lot of thought and energy goes into creating them but they don’t have to be overly complex. My key tip for creatign strategies is to make them with both you and your audiences in mind. If you need something with every single detail mapped out, do it. If you need something that gives you guidance but is brief on the details, do it. It has to be workable for you and your business.
*Dr. Chaffey, D and Chappell, M. (2020). Managing digital marketing in 2020. Available: https://www.smartinsights.com/guides/managing-digital-marketing-2020/.