In the expanding world of consumerism, start-ups and connectivity, businesses must market themselves well to be heard above the noise of their competitors.
Some businesses market directly to consumers—think: retail stores—while others market directly to companies. This results in two marketing categories, which are commonly referred to as B2C (business-to-consumer) and B2B (business-to-business).
Although individual marketing strategies differ among businesses and industries, the following principles lay the foundation for implementing a strong marketing plan.
1. Define clear business objectives
To create an effective marketing strategy, business leaders must define specific objectives to point their company in the right direction. Forbes explains that most objectives can fall under three categories: sales, advocacy and awareness. It is recommended that a company focus primarily on one objective at a time, perhaps one per quarter. This will help clarify company strategy and keep team members focused.
2. Use consistent branding
Sharing a company message is key in spreading awareness, but that message—and all forms of communication shared by a company— should be consistent. Inc. Magazine explains that consistent branding involves more than just an aesthetic logo but also the types of content that are produced. Some companies want to be viewed as formal thought leaders in their industry, while others prefer to be viewed as flippant. Either method is fine, as long as it’s consistent across all platforms of communication.
PR professionals are experts at developing the right message for the right audience. Seeking advice to improve a company’s messaging tactics is a smart move in any industry.
3. Form strategic partnerships
Partnerships in business, which can vary from educational to promotional, can be a valuable asset to companies of all types and sizes who are looking to grow. It’s important to build relationships with other professionals – whether or not they are in your industry. They may be able to offer insight for handling company issues or provide alternative methods to certain tasks. Whether it’s meeting one-on-one with an industry peer or building a bridge between two companies, strategic partnerships can help launch an individual (or his company) past the competition.
This applies to online relationships as well. The rise of social media brought with it the rise of influencers—some of whom have the power to make or break a brand. Partnering with an influencer to promote a business is all about leveraging her platform and aligning it with company strategy. Contently says that not all influencer partnerships have to be with a mega star; even small businesses can experience significant growth when partnered with the right influencer.
4. Interact with the target market
Though this may seem obvious, a marketing plan is incomplete without a strategy to engage the audience. The most effective forms of communication vary slightly among industries, but email marketing and social media are the primary ways to effectively communicate with a target market.
Based on a study produced by the Content Marketing Institute, 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn, and they believe it is the most effective social platform for sharing content. Twitter comes in a close second with 88% of marketers posting to the site.
Email marketing continues to be successful, and the average open rate is 21.73% across all industries, according to Mail Munch.
Social media and email marketing are powerful tools to engage an audience. With the ability to track a message’s reach and personalize it to the recipient, these cost-effective forms of communication are sure assets to any company’s marketing plan.
5. Follow a written strategy
To make a marketing strategy truly effective, it must be documented and followed. The best marketing plans are the ones that go from paper to reality. The Content Marketing Institute found that 48% of marketers do not document their marketing strategy, letting those ambitious goals and ideas drift away until next year’s marketing brainstorm session.
To track progress and achieve company goals, the plan must be outlined on paper with specifics on what tactics will be used when and what the expected outcome will be. Company leaders should periodically evaluate the success of the plan and determine what steps need to be made going forward to improve their overall strategy.
By implementing these basic principles, companies can focus on specific ways to market themselves and discover which tactics are most effective at reaching their audience.