Three Practical Steps for Creating Your First Marketing Strategy
Updated: Sep 9
It all started with a great idea. It started to gain traction when you shared it with friends. You threw money at the idea, sent off a few emails, and mapped out your business plan. But it feels like something is missing. How will people find out about your great idea?
We've all been there: you get an idea, it's exciting and new and something that you think might really take off this time! You run the idea past your friends and family, research everything you can think of and begin to develop a business plan. But now what?
One of the most important parts of any business plan is your marketing strategy. A marketing strategy is the section of your business plan that focuses in on how you will achieve success with your business through promotional opportunities.
It's important to understand the importance of all marketing strategies, but you will also need to discern which concepts will fall into your first round of strategy versus later down the line (or perhaps not at all!) While all marketing strategies can be helpful across many industries, there are certain channels that may not lead to your specific customer profile.
The first step to creating your marketing strategy is to identify your target audience.
If you've done your research already, this first task will be easier than many of the others because you've already started to profile what your customer may look like.
First, segment your target market into smaller sections based off of geography, demographics or personality traits.
Ask some of the following questions to get a better idea of who you are looking to market to:
- Is your product gender-specific?
- Is your product age-specific?
- Geographically, where would your target customer be located?
- Does your customer have morals/beliefs that will affect their choices?
Begin to formulate an idea about what your customer looks like based off your answers.
Remember: it's okay to limit your target audience when you first start a new business venture. If you leave your target audience too broad, you will spend too much energy trying to appeal to a wide range of customers as opposed to personalizing the experience for the people you are actually hoping to target.
For example, if you are going to be selling cloth baby diapers, you can assume that your target customer most likely to be:
- A woman
- Age 20 - 35 years old
- Cares about the environment
- May have budgetary concerns
- Are looking for quality above all
Secondly, it is important to take a look at your competition.
More than likely, your product or business won't be the only one out there. And while competition is usually looked at negatively, this is your opportunity to learn from others in the market space.
Look at your competitor's value statements: what sets their product or service apart from others? How are they communicating their message to their customers? What kind of feedback do you see on their online reviews?
Once you've taken a close look at your competition, you will have a much better idea about what your target audience likes and dislikes. You can then use that knowledge to position your brand in a different light. View your competition as a test-subject and then take what feedback you can find online and position it powerfully for your business.
Remember: if you find that your product or service is too similar to another one that has been on the market for a while, don't throw in the towel just yet. Can you readjust your brand to highlight the differences? Is there a way to move your business into a space that is less saturated? Can you collaborate with other businesses and form a partnership opportunity?
For example, Coke and Pepsi are the ultimate rivals, yet you can ask just about anyone which one they prefer and their answer always has a deeper reason behind the simple choice.
- Someone may choose Pepsi because it's the only soda that they had at their grandmother's house as a child
- Someone may choose Coke products because of the company's commitment to giving back to the community
Thirdly, you must choose your channels for your first round of marketing.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when launching your marketing strategy is to stretch yourself too thin in record time. Digital marketing experts are quick to recommend that you hop on every social media platform where you can meet your customer but that type of approach usually leads to poor execution and quick burn-outs.
Carefully select what channels you invest your time and energy on when starting a business.
I recommend starting on simpler platform such as Twitter- where you can generally promote your business, interact with others and are limited in how many characters you can use per post.
When you jump into the world of Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube or LinkedIn, the amount of time you need to spend preparing for each post increases significantly.
You begin to worry about the aesthetics of your page. How can you increase followers? Do you have time to interact with everyone? You need to plan to take and edit videos or pictures prior to posting. There's a lot of thought and energy that goes into each platform, so by limiting yourself during the first three months of launching your official marketing strategy, you are preparing to do the ones you've selected properly before heading into deeper waters.
Remember: Just because your audience is present on a ton of social media networks doesn't mean that you need to rush into creating a bunch of pages and profiles. Once you've gotten your feet wet with one or two platforms, see how much time you are spending each day to prepare posts and new content for each. Once you've gotten a better idea about how much time you will need to allocate each week for social promotion, you can then start to expand your reach.
For example, just because your closest competitor is spending a lot of time promoting their YouTube channel doesn't mean you need to rush out and buy a video camera and editing software. Keep an eye on their progress and over time determine if this makes sense for your business.
Each of these steps may seem simple in theory, but when you create a business from nothing it is easy to get confused and overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs to be done.
The important thing to remember when creating and launching your first marketing strategy is that it is not a race. Slow and steady is the only sustainable way to maintain a new business venture.
Many new businesses fail after they rush to create a product and send it to market without understanding who needs the product and where to find these customers.
Some days will be more difficult than others - but if you take your time on everything your business produces, you will breed trust and authenticity and increase a loyal following for your products or services.
If you are going to do something, be sure to do it well.
About the author:
Samantha Rosenfeld spends 40-some hours a week working to promote the study of surface science as the head of North American Marketing for a German-based manufacturing company. Outside of that (and any time in between) she creates content and marketing campaigns for her freelance clientele and professional development website. Follow her journey on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.