By now, most business owners know that they need a marketing strategy, but many are unsure just where to start and what elements to prioritize. After all, marketing is complex, and it encompasses a lot of different moving parts.
As a result, developing a comprehensive understanding of how marketing works can be difficult. But, like a lot of things, future marketing success starts with solid fundamentals. That’s why today the pros at BCI Media Services have put together this crash course in marketing strategy 101. From traditional outlets like print and radio to modern outlets like social media and video, a strategy is essential to keep your company ahead of the pack.
What is Marketing?
Marketing is the act of building awareness around your company and promoting your business to clients. But there’s more to it than that, at a fundamental level, marketing is the process of understanding who your customers are, and not only building but maintaining relationships with them. Every good marketing campaign is rooted in a strategic foundation. To that end, planning helps us determine who our audiences are, what kinds of messages they’ll interact with, and where we should put our marketing dollars to get the best return on investment (ROI).
Devising a Marketing Strategy, Where to Start
When devising your marketing strategy, you’ll want to start at the top, with what is known as the “6 C’s” of Marketing. These six elements will help to keep you aligned with the most important aspects of a successful marketing strategy. Whether your business is brand new, or already established, the 6 C’s can assist you in creating a solid new marketing strategy or adjusting an existing strategy that is underperforming.
At the base of every good marketing strategy is a deep understanding of who your client is and what problem they are trying to solve, then offering a solution. Knowing who your potential clients are at the start enables you to create a marketing strategy that aligns your promotional content with their interests and needs. This will help you to target advertisements that connect with their preferences, as well as generate brand loyalty among them.
Next on the list of C’s is convenience, as in the convenience that your brand or service provides its customers. Part of a solid marketing strategy should involve effectively conveying the ease with which potential clients can engage with your company or access your products and services.
The crux of an effective marketing strategy is understanding how to differentiate your brand from that of your competitors. Your marketing success hinges on your ability to separate your brand from your competitors. That means a strong understanding of your competition and in-depth competitor analysis is necessary to create a solid marketing strategy.
Maintaining a consistent brand image and tone across all marketing efforts is necessary when creating an effective marketing strategy. Consistency across all channels should align at every touchpoint, from print materials to websites, and social media accounts to logos.
The modern customer seeks two-way communication with the companies that make the goods and services they purchase. Maintaining effective communication with clients is crucial to creating a trusted brand image. Oftentimes, the best marketing comes from positive reviews, which will only occur if your clients feel valued and appreciated.
In the digital age, content is king and creative content reigns supreme. And, we don’t just mean creative digital content such as blogs and videos, but also creative print and radio ads that stand out from your competition and differentiate you from the crowd.
Marketing Mediums 101
Now that you know the key elements you need to build a solid marketing strategy, it’s time to cover the different mediums you can use to create a well-rounded strategy.
Content marketing is a form of marketing that emphasizes education over selling to influence buying behavior. This strategic marketing approach ties back to “Customer Solutions.” It focuses on creating informative content that is relevant to a potential client’s needs and pain points. It uses the conversation around your brand, as opposed to about your brand, to attract those best aligned with — and most likely to purchase — your product or service. Content marketing involves varied formats like infographics, webpages, podcasts, videos, blogs, white papers, webinars, and eBooks.
Content marketing is effective because it:
- Draws prospects through the sales funnel
- Grows brand visibility, credibility, and desirability
- Aligns target markets with relevant information
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Social media marketing focuses on creating a conversation with prospective clients by providing them with content they find valuable and want to share across their social networks. This results in increased brand visibility as well as website traffic. Social media shares of content, videos, and images also influence SEO efforts. Which we’ll talk about next.
Social media marketing is effective because it:
- It is a cost-effective strategy that increases lead generation
- Provides metrics that give companies additional marketplace insight
- “Humanizes” brands and encourages conversions
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a set of practices designed to improve both the appearance and positioning of web pages in organic search results on search engines like Google, Bing!, and Yahoo. There is a common misperception that SEO is a stand-alone marketing tactic, but true SEO is only accomplished by many different tactics working together. This includes on-site SEO, off-site SEO, social media, and paid advertising.
Search engine optimization is effective because it:
- Evolves continuously to keep pace with user behavior
- Simplifies searches for customers interested in your product or service
- Is a cost-effective way to keep your brand competitive
SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING / PPC
Search engine marketing, or SEM, is a tool that is used to grow website traffic through paid online advertising or pay-per-click (PPC) links. With PPC, a company buys an ad that appears in search engine results when keywords related to their product or service are searched. Every time the ad is clicked, the company pays a small fee for each visitor — a literal “pay per click.”
SEM is effective because of its:
- Massive potential for reach
- Cost-effectiveness in generating high visibility
- Adaptability to multiple markets and audiences
Video marketing is the practice of using video to promote and market your product or service. The use of video can increase engagement on your digital and social channels, as well as educate and inform potential clients of your “Customer Convenience” and “Customer Solutions.”
A strong marketing campaign should always incorporate video into the mix.
Video is effective because of its:
- Ability to influence buying decisions – 90% of consumers say that product video influenced their buying decisions
- Video ranks higher in search results than any other content
- Video increases click-through rate (CTR) and conversions on websites and email
Print marketing encompasses all physically printed media from business cards to brochures, newspapers, magazines, or direct mail. This is the original form that most marketing started as, but it is far from irrelevant, or “dead,” and no marketing strategy would be complete without the use of physical printed materials.
Print advertising is effective because of its:
- Lasting and tangible nature
- Ability to provide a multi-sensory experience for maximum emotional impact
- Higher engagement over a longer lifespan
AUDIO / RADIO ADVERTISING
Radio advertising is the act of promoting your services or products by buying commercial segments, or “spots,” on a radio broadcast. However, this can also be applied to podcasts, which is where knowing your customer profile or persona is key. Does your ideal customer listen to a podcast or a local radio station on their way to work?
Audio/radio advertising is effective because of its:
- Reach to a captive audience
- Ability to selectively target a listener where they are
- Smooth integration to overall marketing strategies
EARNED MEDIA / PR
Earned media, also referred to as PR, is publicity that’s created through efforts other than paid advertising. It can take a variety of forms from testimonials, to word of mouth, a radio mention, newspaper article, or magazine editorial. Earned media is typically unsolicited and by definition, can only be gained organically – it can’t be bought or owned like traditional advertising.
Earned media and PR are effective because they:
- Are generally “free” advertising channels
- Are unsolicited and therefore have instant perceived credibility
- Increase awareness of valuable, educational, and trustworthy content
Building a Solid Strategy
Taken individually, the majority of the strategies above provide a business with limited marketing clout. However, when strategically combined using the 6Cs of marketing, it is possible to create a well-rounded, cost-effective marketing approach that generates qualified leads, strengthens customer relationships, and successfully builds brands.
When to Enlist Help
If combining all of the above information into an integrated strategy seems like a daunting task, that’s because it surely can be. But, it doesn’t have to be. With BCI Media Services on your team, we can handle all the moving parts by doing what we do best, marketing. And that will free you up to do what you do best, run your business. Contact us today to see how we can help you reach your marketing goals this year and beyond.