Developing marketing strategies

Marketing refers to activities a company undertakes to promote the buying or selling of a product or service. Marketing includes advertising, selling, and delivering products/services to consumers or other businesses. To perform effective marketing it is essential to have a marketing strategy and a marketing plan.

Marketing strategies encompass a company's mission, including what they stand for and what they hope to achieve in the future; marketing plans normally cover the various logistics of marketing campaigns, such as specific types of data and market research. For more about creating marketing strategies visit this website.

Digital marketing refers to the creation and dissemination of content through digital media channels - websites, landing pages, social media, email, and mobile applications etc. and the promotion of that content using a variety of strategies across paid, earned, and owned digital channels, including SEO (search engine optimisation), SEM (search engine marketing), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, content syndication, social, email, text, and more.

When setting up marketing goals, they must be feasible and based on your business goals. Companies often want to get started with integrated marketing and go straight to the tools. Starting with goals and marketing key performance indicators (KPIs), which are measurable values used to evaluate success across all marketing channels, is a much more successful approach.

The first step of marketing is to define our goals as a company and the objectives of our marketing. Using the SMART framework is recommended when setting goals.

 

 
Specific: Defining specific goals for your marketing activity, revenue, and brand will communicate priorities, what you hope to accomplish and ensure accountability. As a service-based company your revenue goals could be to increase lead form enquiries by 10%. For brand goals you might want to appear on the first page of Google searches of specific keywords relevant to your business. Specific goals make it easier to determine how they are going to be measured.

Measurable: What criteria, or key performance indicators (KPIs), should be measured to inform success. Revenue and numerical goals are easy to measure. Brand marketing goals are harder to measure objectively, but there can be indicators like customer loyalty or an increase of natural engagement in your social media pages.

Attainable: Assess your ability to accomplish your goals by using data to determine if your goals are attainable. For example, if you would like a 10% increase in subscribers and subscriptions have been steadily increasing by 6% over the last 3 months, getting to 10% with some additional efforts and new strategic direction is most likely achievable. If you do not yet have the data to determine trends, start with a baseline, implement a tracking process, and begin collecting the data as soon as possible.

Realistic: This step provides an opportunity confirm whether your goals are realistic, practical and possibly challenging. Unrealistic goals are less likely to be achieved.

Timely: Matching all your goals with realistic time frames or deadlines is important. Deadlines are also important for accountability. Having shorter term goals provide motivation and will boost the realisation of long-term goals.


Remember that goal setting is a dynamic process. You can always refine your goals and work toward new challenges.

It is hard to decide which key performance indicators (KPIs) are the most important in a digital marketing campaign, however they necessary help to make decisions and show returns on your marketing spend. Therefore, after planning and implementing a marketing strategy, the final step is to measure its results. Measuring during the campaign is also crucial, as this will help to readjust your actions and make sure desired results are achieved.

Here are 10 KPIs which play key roles in monitoring your online marketing

  1. ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment): A positive marketing return on investment means that your campaigns are bringing in more money than you are spending on them. Find out more about this and how to measure it here
  2. Lead conversion rate: This is the percentage of individuals or businesses that were potentially interested in purchasing your product or service and that convert to opportunities.
  3. Conversion rate by marketing channel: To maximise your lead conversion rate, it is essential to identify which marketing channels bring you the most qualified leads.
  4. Cost per lead: Is the cost you pay to acquire a prospect through online advertising. Knowing your cost per prospect allows you to make more strategic marketing decisions.
  5. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Is a prediction of the profits generated by a company throughout its relationship with each particular customer.
  6. Organic traffic and SEO traffic: refers to the traffic on your website generated by free search engines e.g. Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. It is a valuable resource that usually represents more than half of your website’s total traffic.
  7. Website traffic: An essential metric, but by itself, it could be misleading. For example, if you’re getting a lot of traffic, but are not converting visitors into leads, your strategy might need to be revised.
  8. Social media return on investment (ROI): Tracking this indicator is fundamental to evaluate your online marketing strategy performance.
  9. Email marketing open rate and click through rate: Both are important. Email open rate is the percentage of people who opened an email campaign. This measure allows you to evaluate the relevance of your email subjects and the quality and the engagement of your mailing list. Click through rate is the percentage of people who clicked on a link within an email and allows you to evaluate your call-to-action efficiency.
  10. Click to open rate (CTOR): This corresponds to the ratio of emails in which the user clicked on a link, but in contrast with to the number of unique opens.

The following articles provide more information about monitoring marketing

Measuring marketing performance: market metrics

Measuring advertising performance: a recommended set of 8 media metrics

KPIs and The Media Industry

10 Most Important KPIs For Content Marketing

When compiling a marketing plan, consideration must be given to which marketing channels you should use. For solopreneur Virtual Assistants the best marketing channels are those which require less work. Search engine optimisation (SEO), Word of mouth marketing, influencer marketing, partnership marketing and community building are all great ways to approach new customers. Some are more expensive than others and some are more labour intensive, so it is important to decide which ones will meet your needs. Email marketing, social media marketing are also great tools, but they may also be the most labour intensive ones. To learn more take a look at this website.

 

When planning your marketing budget consider:

  • Your sales funnel, for example, how many website visits do you have per month; how many leads are you generating per month, etc.
Your operational costs. Based on the data from the previous steps and your business goals, set your marketing budget. Understand the current and future trends and keep track of your top competitors and study their marketing campaigns.

When planning marketing strategy the first step is to critically evaluate your current situation and determine if there are any problems that need to be solved or opportunities you would like to explore. Think about how you can address any issues and opportunities you discovered during the evaluation. Choose your target audience, identifying who is looking for your service/product.

Then you can decide which strategy you want to follow:

1. Current service to current market
2. Current service to new market
3. New service to current market
4. New service to new market.

To hold yourself accountable you will need KPIs, which will indicate the success of your marketing activity. Finally, analyse your competitors and their marketing activity to identify strong points you can and should apply in your own campaign/strategy.

Constructing your marketing plan

  • Initially prepare a draft version which can then be finalized.
  • Assess your marketing strategy. Include details like customer value proposition, your approach to marketing (the 7 Ps of marketing: Product, Price, Promotion, Place, People, Process, Physical evidence) and your route to market (a strategy that determines which distribution channels you use to promote a product to your target customers).
  • Marketing plans should contain measurable objectives, so write your SMART objectives. A typical marketing plan will have at least four objectives.
  • Define your target market, describe its characteristics, size. If you have multiple target segments make a description about all of them based on previous market research, customer surveys or on customer records. If possible, draw up a customer profile. These profiles should include the customer types, demographics, such as gender, age, occupation, location. Purchasing habits can be used to assess who/what influences the customer’s purchasing decisions.
  • Define the customers’ motivations and last but not least his/her touchpoints. These touchpoints are points of contact where you can keep in contact with them and get to know more about them.
  • Analyse your competitors, comparing your products/services to theirs so that you can identify areas where you can grow.
  • Gather information about marketing channels and decide which ones to use. Using more than one channel at the same time is possible but be aware that quantity can cost you the quality of your marketing activity. Decide which channel to use for which target audience and vary the content corresponding to their needs. 

 
Before implementing your plan you should have a plan for each objective which describes the necessary actions to meet the objectives and the list of metrics for measuring the completion of the objectives.

Define a budget, and timeframe to meet your needs.

In a digital world where you operate as a VA you always have to adapt. Your customer target group is very likely to be present online, searching for help and support. But most importantly, online is the place where you can easily sell your service/product with ease, and not have to worry about the maintenance of physical facilities.

Many solopreneurs struggle to understand or embrace the possibilities offered by online business, thinking that being competitive online is time and resource consuming. Some solopreneurs believe it is difficult to deal with everything from service through to marketing, to bookkeeping. Digital marketing has changed this and achieving great results with little effort is possible with today’s technology. If you really want to see your business prosper, going digital is the only way in this competitive market. Embracing the latest trends in digital marketing will provide a chance for your business to succeed.

EXAMPLES/CASES

A striking marketing campaign does not always have to cost a lot. The brand Nikon launched a campaign ‘I am..’ intending to take audiences back on a nostalgic trip that is a fresh breath of air in itself. It encourages the audience to indulge in joyful clicking rather than merely click pictures. As a result, it helps consumers and customers connect themselves with the brand, create memorable moments and promote a sense of achievement.

 

Sometimes a humorous campaign can be effective. In not taking ourselves too seriously we can make fun out of ordinary things or current trends/problems and show how our product/service can help to fix situations. Take as an example this video from Iceland which parodises the founder of Facebook, while trying to promote tourism.



Affordable and advanced technology now means that a solopreneur can take self-promoting, high quality videos or can easily create a podcast channel where he/she can promote him/herself, with minimum investment.

TIPS

1.     Promoting your business via online networking is a great way to communicate what you do.

2.     Create good looking business cards and keep them with your all the time, you never know, when they will be needed.

3.     Get a creative email signature so you can attract the attention of people who are not yet working with you. It also acts as a tool to let potential customers know what you are doing.

4.     Arrange meetings with your online contacts. People do business with people they know, so market your Virtual Assistant business by getting to know your contacts better and staying on their radar.

5.     Ask for a LinkedIn introduction from your friends, former customers, anyone you think can be helpful.

6.     Run a Google Adwords campaign especially if you do not know who your target market is, but you also research how to use Adwords, it’s a little complicated but they have a fantastic free help service too.

7.     Blogging can be beneficial for SEO purposes and a good way to showcase your knowledge and skills. But what should you write in your blog? You can find a little help here.
MyVA Project number: 2020-1-SE01-KA226-VET-092491
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. 
The European Commission's support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
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