The Successful Marketing Strategy Recipe

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What are the ingredients for an exceptional marketing strategy?

Often we see companies with an amazing product or service that has completely failed to launch. On the surface it looks like they have done all the right things:

  • The product/service is polished
  • The brand looks cool
  • The business’s systems and processes are streamlined
  • They are supported by a stellar team
  • They have an office coffee machine that would make any barista jealous

So, what’s gone wrong here? Why so much hype but so few results?

Chances are these companies have not taken the time to understand their customer or their customer’s needs. Every business has a particular place in the market. Even after generating plenty of fanfare, you could completely miss yours. To stop that from happening, you have to take a strategic approach to your marketing.

Marketing is a creative science. Yes, there is an immense amount of innovation required. Yes, that innovation stems from creativity. However, there’s a difference between doing marketing and really kicking ass. That difference comes down to having an effective marketing strategy.

We realise not everyone has the resources to hire a marketing professional to help them develop their strategy. Do not fear; Early Bird is here. We’re going to walk you through the ingredients of a successful marketing strategy. This is just our humble opinion, of course. Think of this as your DIY marketing toolkit.

1. Know thy customer

Make sure you understand who your customer is on an intimate level. You need to be so close to who they are as people that you know what they’re thinking before they do. We’re sure you’re wondering how to make this happen. There’s the easy way and then there’s the right way. Since you’re reading this, I will assume you’ve already tried the easy way. Let’s focus on the right way.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How old is my customer?
  • Are my customers mainly male or female?
  • How much money does my customer make in a year?
  • How does my customer spend their time?
  • Where else do they shop?
  • Are they currently using an equivalent product/service? If so, what makes your product/service different from the existing one?

NOTE: Better service is the only incorrect answer to this question. In a competitive market, excellent service should be a given.

  • If there is no equivalent product/service, do my customers need or want mine? Am I solving a problem that is widespread enough to build a business around?
  • Lastly, do I know any of my customers personally?

Once you have answered these questions, build your customers’ personas. For example: “Sally is a 34-year-old single mother. She has limited time to herself and is highly committed to raising her daughter. Sally is a successful entrepreneur who earns over $150,000 per year and enjoys a glass of wine with dinner. She has a sophisticated group of friends and values simple yet effective solutions to problems. If Sally uses our grocery delivery service, she will save time in her already busy schedule. She can then spend this time with her daughter or have more time to herself. The cost of purchasing groceries through our service will only marginally increase Sally’s weekly food bill.”

This example shows that a customer profile must describe real incentives for the customer to buy your product/service. However, one profile can’t give you a complete picture of your customer base. Any product/service will need multiple associated customer personas.

Now that you have your personas, it’s time to find real people who represent them and test your theory. This means getting in a room with them. In our current world, this will probably be a Zoom room. Ask them for honest feedback on your product/service.

Whatever you do, remember that this is not a sales meeting. Let me repeat myself: it’s NOT A SALES MEETING. You should be asking open-ended questions, allowing them to speak, and then listening to what they have to say. You need to find out if the people you think would be your customers would actually be your customers. If you’re barking up the wrong tree, it’s time to know. However, this is not a time for you to try and defend your product/service. Be prepared to hear the truth. It will set you free.

2. Know thy competition

Remember that little question about whether there is existing competition in the market for your product/service. Well, now you have some research to do. You need to find out what your competitors are doing well and what they are doing poorly.

If your competition has physical stores and you can get away with visiting them unnoticed, then do so. Mystery shop your competitors and make notes about the highlights and lowlights of your customer experience. Look at your competitors’ online presences. How do they communicate with their audience on their website and/pr social media? How do they market themselves?

Here’s what you want to uncover about your competitors:

  • What kind of customer experience do they offer?
  • Which marketing channels are they using?
  • Which marketing strategies were you able to observe?
  • What are they charging?
  • What are they doing well?
  • What are they doing poorly?

Once you’ve answered these questions, incorporate the information in a SWOT analysis to understand their market position. You will need to follow this process for any business you believe to be a direct competitor.

3. Why, oh why?

Why are you in business? Why should anyone care that you are in business? These are important questions to be able to answer.

The first hint I can give you is that you are not in business to make money. That is the most basic objective of running a business, unless you are a charity and even then, money is important. You need to be able to tell me why you are in business and why I should care in a concise statement that is well articulated and powerful.

Let’s say you have a bookstore. Not the most exciting thing in the world for most people. When a bookstore advertises its business, they’ll often say something like: “We have over 1000 children’s titles, comfortable reading nooks and great prices. Come buy some kids books from us.”

Will they get some sales from this approach? Yes, most definitely. Will this approach position them as a brand that inspires advocacy from their customer base? That is a big nope.

What if they said the following instead?

“We are incredibly passionate about kids having immersive experiences that develop their imaginations and creativity. That’s we have invested in over 1000 children’s book titles and comfortable reading nooks. Would you like to come to buy some books from us for your family?”

If you are their target customer, this message will spark an emotion in you that you connect with. You will be much more inclined to purchase books from this business. You’ll also be much more likely to advocate for them because you believe what they believe. This is why your WHY is so important.

4. Identify your channels

You asked yourself earlier which places (online and offline) your customers frequent. A good start would be to identify channels that your customers already engage with. For example, if your customer target market consists of pensioners, they are probably not going to be interacting on Discord. However, there’s a high likelihood that you will find them doing all sorts of hobbies with their disposable income. Your business can use this information to reach them where they are. Hey, you might even find your business sponsoring a local tennis club.

My point is that not every marketing strategy requires large above-the-line spending on major marketing channels like television or radio. Sometimes your most effective marketing strategy could be to keep it local. Know thy customer, and then identifying your channels will be easy.

5. Set realistic goals

Set an achievable goal. Don’t overestimate your ability; this is a trap many business owners fall into, and it can be devastating. To stay motivated and to stay within what is reasonably possible, set short-term goals that you can tick off regularly to keep yourself on track and inspired. If you only set incredibly ambitious goals, the disappointment of not achieving them could derail your entire project or business.

6. Come up with a different approach

You can’t be your competition because they already exist. You have to be you and be all of you. Look at what you do well and focus on creating a marketing campaign strategy that showcases that. If you don’t have the skills to produce high-quality campaign creative, make sure you get help. You only get one chance to impress potential clients. Do not screw it up with lacklustre graphic design. Looks matter, otherwise beauty pageants would not exist.

7. Budget

There is only a limited supply of cash going around. This means you need to put your money where you will get the best return on your investment. Work out a cost per customer acquisition for each of your marketing channels. Focus on the channels with the lowest cost per customer. Even if your marketing is limited to a few channels (or just one), the results are what matters. It might sound boring, but it should never be about what you like but about what is effective.

8. Put it all together

Plot it out, write it out, print it out and keep it close. Your marketing strategy should be a living document. Not quite like that monstrous book in Harry Potter, but more like a document that your business lives and breathes to keep moving forward. You have to write down how your business is going to change the world and then stick to it. Keep yourself accountable while still remembering it’s your plan. You can always change the plan if you need to, but it’s critical to have a clear direction of where you want to go.

9. Timelines

This is a simple one. Put timelines in place right at the start of creating your marketing strategy. Sticking to them is the first step to success. There are lots of amazing ideas in the graveyard; don’t let your marketing strategy be another one.