Ever wonder what sets successful businesses apart from those organizations that struggle year after year?
Often, it is the difference in how they handle day-to-day business vs how they approach marketing. Seeing as marketing is a continuous process, I decided to take a look at how some businesses succeed and then apply those learnings to help you improve your own marketing efforts.
1. Develop a Strategy
The first step to effective marketing is clearly defining your strategy. For some businesses, this may mean creating different marketing plans tailored to different types of patients. For instance, dentists who specialize in laser dentistry may want to have a plan focused on attracting new patients who need that type of treatment. On the other hand, general dentists may want to focus on retaining existing customers by providing them with the best possible experience.
It is important to note that, in general, a marketing plan should be able to stand alone. In other words, you should be able to decide which plan to follow without having to worry about whether or not it will interfere with your current strategy. Once you have established your basic plan, take time to review it and make necessary edits. Make sure that the plan is viable and can be executed effectively.
2. Identify the Target Audience
After you have your basic plan in place, it’s time to move on to the more technical aspect of creating a successful marketing plan – identifying the target audience.
You must first decide what you will offer your audience. In the previous example, the two options for dental clinics could be considered target audiences – those who need laser dentistry treatment and those who need general dentistry treatment. Your goal is to reach as many people as possible, so consider what would benefit the most people and use that to guide your decision making process. You might assume that everyone would benefit from cheaper dental treatment, but that would be a mistake. In reality, some people may prefer the quality of care that a particular clinic offers. It is essential to understand what your target audience wants before you start offering your products or services – this will help you create the right marketing plan that will generate the right results.
3. Define Key Performance indicators (KPIs)
Once you have your target audience in mind, it’s time to work on establishing key performance indicators (KPIs). These are essentially benchmarks that will measure the success of your plan. For example, if one of your objectives is to generate $500,000 in revenue this year, then your corresponding KPI would be “$500,000 in revenue this year.”
These KPIs should be measurable, precise, and actionable. For instance, if you want to benchmark the increase in web traffic that results from a particular marketing campaign, then you could set a KPI of “increased web traffic by 25%.” The reason why these benchmarks are so important is that they will help you determine the effectiveness of your plan. If your KPIs are not measurable, then it will be hard to determine whether or not your plan is working as intended. It is essential to develop measurable KPIs for every aspect of your plan – otherwise, it’s like trying to drive with your eyes closed!
4. Determining the best methods to achieve your objectives
Having a clear picture of what you are trying to achieve – and the corresponding metrics that you will use to measure your success – will be instrumental in determining the most effective methods to get there. One of the most important things to do at this stage is perform analytics. What works and what doesn’t? What are the patterns that you are seeing and need to be addressed?
For example, you may find that the most effective way to generate new patients is through social media channels like Facebook and Instagram. This could mean that you should try to reach out to dentists who have a large following on these channels.
On the other hand, you may discover that sending out regular emails is more effective than you thought. This could mean that you should consider implementing a mass email marketing campaign, targeted to existing and potential customers.
5. Create Key Channels
Once you have your strategy in place and know which methods will be used to execute it, it’s time to move on to the more technical part of creating a successful marketing plan – identifying the key channels.
This part of the process really comes down to understanding the different platforms available and deciding which ones will be used to reach your target audience. Your first step should be to create a list of the major platforms that your target audience uses – be this through online searches or personal experience. Once you have this list, it’s time to move on to the next step.
6. Choose a Platform
Your first consideration should always be which platform to use. When developing your marketing plan, consider the following points:
- Cost – Owning a PC isn’t cheap, and neither is owning a smartphone. If you want to create an effective marketing plan, you will need to make sure that you are getting your money’s worth. Consider the cost of designing a good looking and functional website. Not only does this cost money, but you will also need to have the technical know-how to make sure that the site is up and running effectively. These costs add up – and they should not be disregarded.
- User-Friendliness – This primarily relates to how easy it is to use the platform. Some platforms are designed for businesses who want to create a large amount of content, while others are made for a single-purpose – like taking online surveys. If you are new to the world of digital marketing, then using a simpler platform may be the way to go. Remember: you are not “customizing” a website – you are creating an entire new one. This takes time to learn.
- Tech-Advice – Depending on your line of work, you may encounter different issues that require you to seek tech-advice from experts. For example, if you are launching a new product and want to make sure that it is promoted successfully, then you might need marketing automation advice. Or, if you are looking to grow your email list, then you may need to ask for help choosing the right tools – like A/B Testing or dynamic subject lines.
- Community-Friendliness – This refers to whether or not you will have any trouble joining relevant communities with people who have a common interest in your product or service.
7. Choose a Content Marketing Strategy
With your chosen platform in mind, you can now move on to the part of the process that will decide how you will approach content marketing – creating content that will be used to attract potential and existing customers.
Your first step should be to define content that will be used – and I mean clearly defined content. For example, you will make a list of all the different types of content that you intend on using – from text-based content (like blog posts and web content) to digital assets (like images and videos).
Once you have your content clearly in mind, its time to choose a strategy for producing this content – what will you write about? Consider the following points: