marketing planning

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Introduction to Developing a Marketing Strategy

by Joanne Dolezal on 23rd December 2019

In order to develop a strategy, you need to step back from your business. You’re going to be asking a lot of questions and finding a lot of new answers. You may also find yourself going in a different direction to the one you thought.

In the previous article we established why you need a marketing strategy, so now let’s cover an introduction to developing that marketing strategy.

You need to take a cool, dispassionate look at your business: how big are you? How many people do you employ? What skills and resources do you have (including money, software, equipment etc.)? Then look outside to what’s happening in the marketplace, and beyond to what’s coming next, which could bite you on the bum or provide a golden opportunity.

If there’s a big change you want to make in your business, a strategy is a much better idea than just developing a short-term plan. You may be looking to launch new products and services, or move into a new marketplace, or to grow the business and take it to the next level.

There are a few rules you need to understand

The “macro environment” is the term we use to describe what’s going on outside, in the wider world.

I often find that the people I work with are in business because they’re really good at what they do, but they don’t have a marketing or business background, so this is a new world for them. They’re keen to learn and apply these aspects to their company.

The macro environment is what sits beyond our market and competitors, but can have a massive impact on our business. Two areas where we might find rules are in the legal and political sectors.

You may discover there is a piece of policy or legislation that’s come into being, whether in the UK, the EU or elsewhere in the world, and there is nothing you can do about it. Health and safety, pensions, healthcare, national insurance and taxation are all things that go on all the time, but we can’t influence them at all.

The only way anyone could influence these rules would be a large multinational, such as an oil company, where they have the ear of someone in government, or can pay money to lobby politicians or congress to make a change.

We may learn that there’s a piece of legislation coming which will affect us. Sometimes this is good news, but sometimes it can be a deal-breaker. I’ve worked with a number of clients who were coaches and trainers looking to monetise what they did by creating online courses to serve the European market. But the EU changed its rules on VAT/sales tax, and with one fell swoop it means that a UK company has to file a VAT return for every single EU country it trades in.

If you’re selling a product worth £20 or £30, it’s not practical to fill in a tax return, so these people end up not doing business within the EU. Macro factors such as this can affect even tiny organisations.

Geopolitical shifts can be a good thing

Changes in trading relationships with different countries can have a huge impact. For instance, a company specialising in geo-science with expert knowledge of Iran found that the lifting of trading restrictions and the embargo against Iran meant that they could finally start to get return on investment on the work they’ve put in.

The further out you’re looking, the more time you’ve got to do something about it. If something is changing in six months or a year, you can prepare for that.

We’ll look further at the macro environment next time.

 

Are you worried your marketing isn’t working right now?

If leads and enquiries are drying up, you’re not attracting the right customers or you’re not making enough profit – it’s time to investigate.

Don’t leave without checking to see if your marketing is roadworthy

Photo by sergio souza on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalIntroduction to Developing a Marketing Strategy

Why You Need a Marketing Strategy

by Joanne Dolezal on 16th December 2019

When we start talking about marketing and strategy, people start to look worried. It’s unsurprising, because the terminology used to describe strategy comes from warfare, going back to at least the 1800s, so it’s unfamiliar to us today.

It’s still worth bearing in mind, though, as many people get confused between a strategy and plan, especially when it comes to marketing.

In this series, The Practical, Unscary Guide to Marketing Strategy, we’ll cover everything from developing a marketing strategy to choosing your marketing tactics. First, it’s time to uncover the difference between a strategy and a plan as well as why you need a marketing strategy.

When is it a Strategy and When is it a Plan?

The first question is – when is a strategy not a strategy? It’s when you have a plan. I come across this all the time with clients, who have put a lot of work in and really care about their business, but have created for themselves a to-do list or tick list – a set of marketing actions that they need to carry out at some stage.

This is not a strategy! A strategy takes several steps back, to look at the bigger picture and also looks to the horizon to see what’s coming next. These could provide your business with an opportunity, or it may present a threat. A strategy takes you into the unknown and on a journey of discovery to open up infinite possibilities.

Often, the place clients think is the start is much further down the line, because there are other things they haven’t considered. A strategy is a great way to make change happen. To go back to the war analogy, a plan was designed to help you win a battle in the next few days, and in terms of your business it may take you through the next six months.

A strategy helps you to win the war, so it focuses on the next three to five years, allowing you to think far ahead and make some decisions about where you want to take your business.

Smart Businesses Have a Strategy

The smallest business I ever created a strategy for was a sole trader operating a catering company. The owner had big ambitions for herself, and didn’t want to be stuck in a kitchen on an industrial estate forever – she wanted to take her business out into the world and to export. She also wanted to create a niche for herself and to build a company which would grow with her.

We can see that a marketing strategy fits a business of any size. I’ve worked with large, national charities wanting to concentrate on one aspect of the organisation, to have a fresh pair of eyes bring a new perspective and develop a clear direction for where they’ll take that department.

Having a strategy makes it easier for you to say no. Something may look good on paper, but you know that it’ll take up a lot of your time and resources and be a distraction. It gives you a real sense of mission once you get clear on what you’re doing and helps you focus on who you want to work with, where the business is going, what you don’t want to do and what the best marketing and business tactics are to get you there.

In the next post, we’ll go into detail on how to start developing your strategy.

 

Are you worried your marketing isn’t working right now?

If leads and enquiries are drying up, you’re not attracting the right customers or you’re not making enough profit – it’s time to investigate.

Don’t leave without checking to see if your marketing is roadworthy

Photo by Stijn Swinnen on Unsplash

read more
Joanne DolezalWhy You Need a Marketing Strategy

Be efficient: simple tools for Content Marketing

by Joanne Dolezal on 26th March 2017

The Seven Habits of Successful Content Marketers

Many of you will be using content marketing to grow your business, but it’s not your actual business. You don’t have all the time in the world, so you need to be efficient and pick simple tools to help with your Content Marketing.

Habit #3: Be Efficient and use your time wisely.

Don’t create content in a haphazard way. Try instead to think of the big themes you’re going to focus on this month or for the next quarter; do you have a big topic that you want to tackle this spring, summer or autumn?

What does the calendar look like in your industry

or your customers lives this year? Map out the key dates and seasons.

Nail down what you need to be talking about and when.

Schedule it in.

Consider the bigger picture and plan your topics, content types and key milestones.

Consider this as your “hero” content, something you’d invest a bit of time in.

This could be a video project or a course you’re creating, and use every aspect of it that you can. Go into intricate detail of it when you share it on social media.

Around that, you create much smaller blogs, Slide Decks or Slide Share and tons of social media posts. Small blogs can go onto LinkedIn or Facebook, all of which gives you greater reach from one big piece of work, which is a much more efficient use of your time.

Where will you put all of this information once you have your plan?

You’ll be pleased to know that even the great and good use a spreadsheet, because anything else is too hard to update, so Excel or Numbers is fine. Add in the key information, including the content type (blog, video, e-book, social media post, etc), timings and publishing plan (where, when and most importantly how often).

Make it easy for people to find and share what you create.

You may spend three weeks crafting a bigger piece of content, because you are busy or you find the creative process doesn’t come naturally. You’ve worked hard and want a good ‘bang for your buck’. Make sure the content is well-optimised (containing the keywords for what you do) and ideally, sits on your own website.

Make sure you share your content widely on social media.

You are leaving a little trail of links, invitations, suggestions and teasers to get people to come over to your website to enjoy the piece of content you’ve created – it’s essential!

Tools for Implementing Your Plan

Many of the publishing and management tools I use and recommend include a free version. They can help you manage costs when you’re starting out and investing your time or money in developing good quality content. A publishing or scheduling tool is essential if you’re going to put content out repeatedly over time and at the right time.

Consider the software tools and apps you’re using. Most of us start out using Hootsuite, Buffer or Tweetdeck and don’t move on from them. These are great tools to help you plan and schedule the posts and updates you want to go out at key times. They will help you deliver a steady flow of content to the audience you’re growing in social media but remember: you still need to drop by and say ‘hello’. This is your chance to thank others for acknowledging your messages and to ask something about them.

Don’t try to sell to people on social media. It’s a really big turn off. Take time to build a rapport and see if there’s a good fit between your offer and their needs.

Not So Simple Tools for Content Marketing

The bigger players often use marketing automation software. Some of the software the software is extremely clever but if you are a small business they may be a ‘sledgehammer to crack a nut’. The barriers for smaller teams are the cost and the high level of maintenance and input required, whether you are managing it in-house or working with an agency. For it to be a worthwhile investment, you need to aiming for sizable turnover. Do you have the human resources and skills in-house or the budgets to outsource – and still give your agency time, information and support.

Finally, Twitter is the best free social listening tool around.

Make the time, go in and ‘listen’: search hashtags and topics to see how people feel about the things you do or the problems you address. See what they’re talking about and the language they use to describe it.

What are the “Seven Habits of Successful Content Marketers”?

Tips and real examples from people who’ve inspired me over the last five years. They demonstrate, by using Content Marketing, how it has worked for the businesses they run.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 7 Habits of Successful Content Marketers. Why not check out the other blogs in the series:

  1.  Tell them what they want to know – often
  2.   Follow the plan and pick the right tools
  3.   Be efficient – reduce, re-use, recycle
  4.   Master social media, especially TWITTER
  5.   The 80:20 rule: 80% theirs: 20% yours
  6.   Earn Active Passive Income with RITE content
  7.   Find your niche… the smaller, the better
  8.   Measure your content marketing, often

If you like video, check out our recording of this fascinating topic and learn from these amazing thoughtleaders.

Our new online programme Content Marketing Conquered is designed with you in mind. Based on our successful workshop programme and latest strategies, we guide you to the top in 6 easy steps.

Ready to take the next step? Download your free Content Marketing eBook today.

 

Photo by @BarnImages on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalBe efficient: simple tools for Content Marketing

What are Your biggest Marketing Challenges?

by Joanne Dolezal on 17th October 2013

Every business, large or small, must face up to their own biggest marketing challenges some time.

Keeping up to date with changes in your industry?

Understanding customers’ buying behaviour?

Embracing new technology?

Well, welcome to a really BIG club!

In my industry, Marketing & Communications, the rate at which online platforms are developing is literally eye-watering. It can be hard to cut through all the noise, find a trusted source and apply even a fraction of all the advice hurtling towards you. It’s tempting to follow the latest guru, carpet-bomb social media with updates and smiley faces and then write it all off as a waste of time if it doesn’t lead to huge sales or your ‘phone ringing off the hook. Yes, we have ALL been there too.

I think the secret is to keep it simple.

Start with your existing customers, make sure you are in regular contact with them and are serving their needs. It is far harder to acquire new customers than existing ones and you might just sell them some more of your fantastic products and services.

Make sure you are sharing useful information – useful to them. Not sure what that might be? Why not give them and ring and ask them: “What is currently your biggest challenge?” It’s nice when people show they’re interested in how YOU are doing.

I am also a firm believer in having a PLAN.

If you are committed to growing your business, you will need to identify your biggest marketing challenges.  Next, you will need to explore those challenges and identify options for overcoming them.  Think ahead and plan your marketing and communications so they help you work towards your longer term goals: a product launch, an important trade show, entering a new market, etc.

Otherwise, if you don’t know where you’re heading, how will you know when you get there?

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Joanne DolezalWhat are Your biggest Marketing Challenges?