8 Steps to an Effective Marketing Strategy (yes, even for your business)
For those of you who don't know, we have added a marketing department to our office! So no, this new website and content that we've been putting out recently hasn't been the work of an agency-- we've invested in our marketing in-house.
"But why," we hear you asking "why would a small manufacturing company need a marketer in-house?" Well, the answer is in the question. We're a small company in a highly competitive market and we believe that we have unique capabilities that we want potential customers to be aware of. We've been in the aerospace and defense industry for nearly 60 years, so we know how stagnant supplier relationships can be. Our marketing department aims to change that and give us the capital to continue our growth, both with current and new customers.
You see, marketing strategy is a lot like machining. You can 'chuck' any piece of metal in and use the path the machine generates, but you won't get as good of a result as when you have a skilled employee overseeing the process. You have to refine, bit by bit, until you reach the final product that is perfect for the customers you serve. Illustrated below:
Of course, you can outsource some of this process but no one knows your customers more than you. Only you have the knowledge of how the industry operates, the history of your business, and what keeps your customers coming back. An agency can extract this, but it is important to have an internal operation that knows the jargon and how to communicate this vital information.
Further, it means we can keep the marketing communications internal and pivot quickly as we experiment with what works. For example, we tested a 3 week long email campaign that was more 'sales-y' than we had previously executed. We noticed it was not performing well, so we were quickly able to pivot to a new, more personable strategy and have found great success!
We have some tips on how to start your own marketing strategy-- the steps we took ourselves!
1. Research, Research, Research
Use whatever current market reports and customer information you can get your hands on. If your customers are willing, perform stakeholder interviews. Get to really know what your employees think of the business. This research is CRUCIAL to determining the direction your strategy will take.
2. Determine your brand
This goes beyond just your logo, this is why you exist and how you want to present yourself to the world. We chose a sleek, masculine look because of the kinds of products we sell, you can choose to dress up your business in whatever way suits you!
3. Understand your audience
Based on your research, establish who your audience is. We mean demographics, psychographics, behaviors, etc. Divide them into groups and figure out what they need from you, beyond your product. Then, decide which ones you want to dedicate your resources to. This is called segmenting and targeting and is one of the more important steps!
4. Start writing
Write down your ideas for your copy, even if it sounds silly, because one line can lead to another and you find that nugget that your customers want to hear! It is important to establish your persona here, and it's good to start from your organization's goals. For example, we want to show that we provide friendly service, so part of our persona is 'The Jester'.
5. Where are we going?
Now, consider the channels you're going to use to disperse information about your company. This can be based on industry or customer knowledge. If you're targeting the young CEOs in Silicon Valley, you should use social channels and have a digital strategy. If you're in the defense sector, traditional media may be a good way to go like magazine ads or networking events.
6. One of a kind
You finally get to establish your unique selling point (USP)! What is the thing that differentiates you from your competitors, that they can't replicated? This can be as simple as your experiences or as complex as a patented technology. As long as it matters to your customers, it will make it easier to catch and hold their attention.
7. How you relate to your competitors
It's important to use your USP and see where you're positioned in comparison to your competitors. Are you priced higher or lower; do you target active or inactive customers; does your product require high engagement or low engagement? These questions will help you determine how crowded (thus, how competitive) the space you've chosen in the market is. A positioning map will work just fine to visualize this!
8. Don't forget to measure!
Finally, you need to decide how to measure the success of your strategy. These KPIs can be whatever suits your business. If your goal on social media is to get more eyes on your brand, you can measure post views and click-throughs. If you're aiming for more brand loyalty, you can measure post engagement. There is no perfect formula, so keep experimenting and figure out what works for YOU.