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September 19, 2018

Creating a Marketing Plan, Part 5: The Strategy

You’ve researched your target audience and your competition. You’ve drafted your positioning statement and figured out your pricing. What’s left?

What’s left is what most people think of when they think of a marketing plan – the strategy, or how you plan to gain new customers. Most people skip straight to this step, but you must realize that you can’t get to this point without the previous steps. You should be prepared to write your marketing strategy because you know your target audience and your competition.

Really, can you imagine creating it without your prior work? How can you design a marketing strategy if you don’t know to whom you’re marketing? How can you market to people if you don’t know what your competitors are doing, or if you don’t know what separates you from the competition?

If you’ve done your homework, all you need to do now is a little brainstorming. You need to know where your target audience frequents, and hit them with your message in those places. For example, if your audience is online a lot, you may want to try pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on Google search result pages; likewise, if they’re online and you’re in the home improvement business, you’d want to target sites like homedepot.com and diy.com for advertising. You also want to think of marketing tactics that will be the most cost effective for your business and your budget.

Your strategy: Three different groups

According to foundr.com, you should divide your marketing strategy into three groups:

  1. Owned media – this could be your storefront, vehicle, website, blog or Facebook page. You own and control the message and brand that appears on these types of media, so it’s an easy win for you. The only cost is building it – signs, business cards, the cost of website development.
  2. Earned media – Includes reviews on Google my Business, Yelp and Angie’s List; public relations (press releases); social media shares; and word of mouth. This cost is usually nothing with the exception of press releases. Encourage your most valued customers to write reviews on consumer websites, and to spread the word about your business.
  3. Paid media – You have to put some money into your marketing plan. This will pay for Google/Facebook ads, direct mail, radio and TV ads, billboards and coupons. Many businesses can get very detailed in narrowing down your targeted audience, lowering the price of the overall campaign, so the more detailed your personas are, the better. When thinking about which areas you want to invest in paid media for, remember that digital marketing is most likely going to give you the biggest return on investment. Other traditional methods of marketing still work; it just depends on what type of business you are running.

One thing on paid media – make sure you have a way to track your return on investment. Use analytics and reporting to see how your advertising campaigns are performing. You can also purchase a toll free number through a virtual phone number provider to track calls on certain marketing campaigns – put your 1-800 number on your marketing materials and watch the calls come in!

Try to think about tactics in these three areas. You can especially get creative in owned media and paid media. Try stickers, tattoos, T-shirts. Give away samples of your product at events, or raffle off your services to a few lucky people. Sponsor a baseball team. Enter into a partnership with a company that offers a product or service that goes in tandem with yours.

The only limit is your imagination. If it reaches your target audience, you should try it.

Next up: Putting all the pieces together


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