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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

Know What Your Customers Want and Develop a Content Plan

by Joanne Dolezal on 18th March 2017

The Seven Habits of Successful Content Marketers

Knowing what customers really want is a tough nut to crack.

What successful content marketers have learnt, is that you can’t tell them what you want them to hear any more.  They will go out and find the truth elsewhere.

Nowadays, you need to tell them what they want to know, and tell them often. If readers, viewers, listeners or website visitors feel that they’re just getting a strong sales pitch, they’ll soon switch off.

Habit #1: Tell them what THEY want to know.

One of the people I greatly admire in the Content Marketing world is Marcus Sheridan, who has a podcast, Mad Marketing and blog: The Sales Lion. He’s super smart and his content is always really worth reading, watching or listening to.

Marcus has a well-know story of how he got into content creation in the first place: he was running a swimming pool business in the USA. At the height of the last recession was failing, and about to hit the skids. Aware that something dramatic was needed to turn the business around, Marcus got into blogging.

He didn’t know anything about it, but he is a born salesman, so he knew at first hand the questions customers are always asking and what they most want to know. He’d spent hours talking to them and had an intimate knowledge of their needs, objections and aspirations.

His mantra is simple: they ask, you answer.

His new book, They Ask, You Answer is packed full of sound advice.

He started writing articles which he shared on his website, answering people’s questions:

  • what type of pool liner is best?
  • what size and depth should the pool be?
  • is it right for the climate where I live?
  • how do I keep my pool clean?
  • and other maintenance queries.

Over time, he got into the detail of these questions and published a lot of blogs.

Marcus also started experimenting with keywords and search engine optimisation.

He found that even when he was doing comparison posts – comparing his products with others or his business with a competitor’s – his website came top of Google search. Marcus has now gone on to create a consulting business, as well as a career in public speaking and masterclasses (which are superb).

His pool business continues to flourish today.

Bear in mind that with content, it’s not just what you’re publishing and pushing out into the wider world, or publishing on a third-party platform, it’s also what’s on your own website.

How do you currently address the common questions you get from your customers?

If you’re not already doing this, it’s a great starting point for developing your content plan, deciding what to publish on your website and share in social media.

Habit #2: Develop your Content Plan.

Most marketers love to plan.

Whether its a spreadsheet, a tick list, key actions or setting things out on paper, you need to consider what your year looks like.  Not just your business calendar, but also your content calendar: what stories and messages need to be shared at key times?

Start to plan this content in advance, then you’ll know you’ve got the right content at the right time of year, including all the ingredients you need to create them.

Planning is important because it allows you to work out what resources you need and when, both now and in the future.

These ‘ingredients‘ could be:

  • product or service information
  • customer insight from colleagues
  • product or service feedback from customers
  • photos from a trade show
  • audio from a brainstorming session
  • client video testimonials.

Good quality content can take a while to create, but anything original that’s produced (audio or PDF download) is worth having.

So where to start?

First, think about who you’re writing for and the mindset of your customer:

  • how do they feel now and how do you want them to feel?
  • what are their expectations?

Your target customer is always the starting point of any marketing:

  • what are they looking to buy and how well do you ‘fit the bill’?
  • what do they care about?

Carry out some research.

Try using social listening tools, Twitter advanced search and Google search will both help you find out what people search for on your topics and how they talk about them.

What are your customers and your online community discussing – this may become topical. Use keyword research around these themes.

Consider the words your customer uses – how do they describe you? 

What do they think you do?

This research will inform not only the topics you write about, but also the language you use.

Think about the stories that will connect you – beyond your business year, key industry or sector events or what’s going on in the wider world.

Try not to go too far “off the reservation” and express strong personal views; but, we are living in interesting times, and these things will be relevant to your customers.

Acknowledging their concerns is important, because it shows you are human too.

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.

Don’t leave without grabbing your free eBook.

 

Photo by Mira Bozhko on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalKnow What Your Customers Want and Develop a Content Plan

CIM Marketing Bootcamp

by Joanne Dolezal on 12th May 2014

Event Date:            Thursday 22nd May 2014
Event Venue:           HMS Calliope, South Shore Road, Gateshead Quays, NE8 2BE

Mobile Marketing
Joanne Dolezal – Dolezal Consulting

How to integrate mobile marketing into all your campaigns and reach more customers.

People increasingly take their smartphones and tablets with them everywhere they go.  Smart marketers realise that Mobile Marketing is a key opportunity to engage with customers.

This session covers the latest trends in Mobile Marketing, including Social Mobile and show you how to integrate Mobile in future campaigns.

This talk is part of a full day CIM Marketing Bootcamp delivered in partnership with NECC (North East Chamber of Commerce).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Joanne DolezalCIM Marketing Bootcamp

Unleash your Hidden Talents and Achieve Greater Success

by Joanne Dolezal on 5th April 2014

Are you a business owner?

Or dreaming of being your own boss one day?

Well, I’d like to help you unleash your hidden talents.

I meet many business owners in my marketing consultancy who are keen to grow their businesses and succeed.  Naturally.  They are invariably a talented, hardworking and enthusiastic bunch.

So where’s the problem?

Talents.  Skills.  Competencies.  Gifts.  Whatever you want to call them, they have them in spadefuls, just not always the ones they think they do.

You see, many of us have a blind spot when it comes to recognising our own worth.  I’m not talking about false modesty here.  I’m talking about a complete lack of awareness.

Over time, we develop our talents, capabilities and skills, often to a level where they have real value to those around us.  These could be called our ‘first tier gifts’, things that come so naturally to us that we feel embarrassed to charge for them.  We take them for granted so we overlook their value to others.

Some time ago, I listened to a podcast of an interview with an Organisational Development consultant, Betsy Jordyn, who observed that we, rather perversely:

“build businesses off of (our) second tier gifts because these are the ones that we’re decent at but we have to work a little harder at.”

Our second-tier skills cost us some effort to acquire, so we value them more.

I see this with clients (and friends) time and time again, particularly in start-ups and young businesses.

I recently consulted to a business where the owner had deep, specialist skills gained over more than a decade in a highly competitive niche industry.  But they were going to market with a range of products and services based on recent skills acquisition, overlooking their deeper, rarer knowledge completely.  It’s a kind of mind-wipe, as if people leaving employment to start their own business suddenly forget everything they ever learned.

And yet that is your value, right there.  All that great stuff you’ve spent years learning, honing and making part of you.   And it’s ALL transferable, ALL valuable.  Best of ALL, it’s likely to be the bits of your job that make you smile, that are like ‘falling off a log’.

So how do you work out what you do really well, what your ‘first tier skills’ are?

Well, Ms Jordyn’s advice is to:

“Just pay attention to compliments. Every single time you get a compliment, stop and listen to it, digest it and think, “What was it?”  If you’re tempted to shrug it off… that’s your clue that you’re hitting on something really significant.”

So, what to do with all the other stuff you are currently offering?  Well, you can always find others who you think are really good at those things – you see, it’s easy to see what other people are good at – and get them on board.
Also, moving away (gradually if need be) from the services or products that you are not really great at allows you to specialise.

There are many advantages to specialising.

1.  When you specialise rather than generalise it’s easier for people to understand what you do (and recommend you to others)

2.  Specialists (and experts) invariably command far higher fees.

3.  Other specialists will feel safe working with you, because you are clearly brilliant at things they’re not, rather than okay at some of the things they specialise in and could compete for

4.  It’s easier to market your products and services and to target your customers

5.  It’s a relief!  You don’t have to keep up with so many developments, just a few really important ones.

If you are reading this and thinking this may be you, start by becoming more self-aware.  Listen to feedback from colleagues, family members, critical friends and customers.  Work with a business coach if that helps you.  Don’t be afraid to ask them too.  You may be really surprised by what you learn so take time to gather and digest it.

Review your current products and services too.  How many are based on your first tier skills and how many on your second tier skills?  Which ones are really making you any money?

I have applied Ms Jordyn’s sage words to my own business and have worked through this model with many of my clients.  Invariably, it has been a positive and empowering process: clarifying what you’re REALLY good at and outsourcing or discontinuing those products or services that require the greatest effort.

I hope you find this blog helpful and enjoy the process of working out where your greatest value lies.

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Joanne DolezalUnleash your Hidden Talents and Achieve Greater Success