Developing a marketing plan isn’t easy. There are a lot of moving pieces involved, and it can be daunting to consider all of them. Luckily, there are a number of basic marketing strategies you can use to build a solid foundation. We’re going to outline them for you, along with tools you can use to take it a few steps further.
We’ll show you how to:
- Use a simple three-point method to develop a broad strategy
- Develop buyer personas to focus your efforts on
- Set and monitor goals
- Use inbound marketing to draw potential customers in
- Use outbound marketing to reach leads who aren’t finding you organically
- Take advantage of top-notch tools to take it to the next level
A Guide to Powerful and Easy Basic Marketing Strategies
Before you get started, you’ll need to define two things: your own marketing profile and your target audience. These two things are the backbone of your marketing.
Know Yourself: The Three-Point Method
This approach is a quick way to create a basic profile for your business, from a marketing viewpoint. It’s a ratio of three factors: product, service and price. It’s a give-and-take between them, and figuring out your balance of them gives you a clear starting point on your marketing.
Product-centric strategy is focused on your product itself. Is your product angled as “premium” or “luxury”, or more value-based? For example, Tesla’s vehicles are feature-packed luxury cars – they offer superior-quality, high-end products, but with a very high price point. The main focus of their marketing is the product itself.
Compare that to the Honda Civic, for example. Far less luxurious than a Tesla, but also much more affordably priced. They rely more heavily on the pricing rather than the product to draw customers.
Service-centric strategy is when your product or service is comparable to others in the market, but you rely on providing impeccable customer service. This can be beneficial in multiple ways. Not only do you get a happy customer, but you also gain a reputation for quality service, which in turn can bring more customers. How much does your company focus on providing quality customer service?
An example of this is Lloyds of London, an insurance company. There are many companies offering insurance coverage, but Lloyds have opted for a service-oriented strategy. They offer exceptional service, and attract customers who are willing to pay higher premiums for that level of service.
Pricing-centric strategy is, of course, how your offering is priced. Consider Walmart – their prices are low, but don’t expect superior customer service. On the other hand, Bloomingdale’s is another department store chain that provides higher-level service such as personal shoppers, at a higher price point.
Look at it this way – when people talk about your brand, what will they mention? Your fantastic products, top-notch customer service, or stunningly good prices?
Okay, now you have an idea of what your strengths and selling points are. Hold onto that for a moment while we look at the other half of your marketing foundation.
Know Your Audience: Buyer Personas
Knowing what you’ve got going for you is very useful. Knowing who’s likely to buy from you is arguably even more useful.
Ask yourself the question “what problem does my product solve?”, and then follow it up with “who has that problem?” There’s your target market. Now refine that into a detailed profile (or set of profiles) of who’s most likely to buy. You’ll have to generalize, but that’s okay.
This involves finding out key pieces of information that apply to the type of people who will most likely want what you’re offering. Things like:
- Their job role/title
- Their goals and challenges
- What industry they work in
- Their demographic (age/gender/location for example)
Once you have a clear picture of the “typical buyer”, you can better target your marketing efforts.
For a detailed guide on researching, creating and using buyer personas, check out this in-depth guide by HubSpot.
Gamification: Motivate Your Team with Goals
You’re armed with knowledge about your business, strategy and target audience.
Here’s a bonus tip, though. Set goals, monitor them, share them with your team. Determine how you measure success, such as how many MQLs you send over to your sales team per month. Whatever your metric is, set a goal and keep track of it.
Try keeping a whiteboard with a breakdown of each marketing channel, your targets for the month, actuals to date for the month, and projected numbers based on current trends. If you’re meeting your goals, increase them month over month. Keep your actuals and projected numbers updated every week or so. All where the whole team can see it.
Not only does this give you and your team insight into what’s working and what needs improvement, it can be a powerful motivator. Your team can rise to the challenge and strive together towards a clear common goal. It’s a process called gamification and is used all over the place, across many industries.
With strategies in place for messaging, targeting and motivation, it’s time to get marketing!
Inbound Marketing: Slow and Steady
This is a huge topic that boils down to this: you offer people valuable information and content and nurture them closer and closer to a purchase decision. Inbound is a long game where you let the leads come to you and slowly ease them along their buyer’s journey.
It creates warm, high-quality leads and builds your reputation and trustworthiness. It’s powerful. Unfortunately, it’s also time-consuming and slow, which can be frustrating at times.
Inbound marketing has lots of flavors, including:
- Case studies
- Whitepapers and ebooks
And much more besides those mentioned. Your main strategy with all inbound content is search engine marketing (SEM). You want to get your website in front of as much relevant Google traffic as you possibly can. This is where your buyer persona becomes useful.
For blogs, for example, a good strategy is to choose a strong keyword that people are searching for a lot and is directly relevant to your business. Create a post and optimize it as heavily as you can to rank highly in Google SERPs (search engine result pages) without sounding robotic or over-optimized.
There’s a joke in marketing that goes “do you really exist if Google doesn’t know you do?” While silly, it’s also true – nobody will visit your website if it doesn’t show up when they search.
The truly crucial aspect of inbound, however, is that all your SEO and other tricks are secondary to the value of the content. Strong copywriting is important, as is well-researched information and relevance. You need to balance value with SEO.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t immediately see returns from inbound marketing. Keep churning out good content and your results will increase over time. Google takes its time to carefully refine its results, and even if you right a superb post that’s also extremely well-optimized, it takes a long time (35 weeks!) for a new post to settle into a steady SERP rank.
Outbound Marketing: Quick Wins and Strong ROI
The meaning of “outbound marketing” is changing. Previously, it meant things like TV ads, billboards, posters and cold calls. All those things still exist – and are still outbound marketing – but that’s not all it is anymore. We’ve gotten very good as a society at avoiding or ignoring old-school tricks like that.
Modern and effective outbound marketing is an entirely separate toolbox that you probably didn’t even think of as “outbound”:
- Pay-per-click ads
- Social media posts
- Paid social media advertising
- Viral marketing
- Targeted emails
Outbound is “you go find them”, as opposed to inbound’s “they come find you”.
It has become unfashionable as inbound has taken the marketing world by storm (spearheaded by inbound marketing pioneer HubSpot), but it’s an extremely powerful toolkit. It offers much faster ROI than inbound, and with less effort.
For example, Google Ads reports that on average, companies make $2 for every $1 spent on the platform. That’s pretty solid ROI by any standard. While Google Ads is a very deep platform that you can go very far into, it’s very easy to get an initial campaign up and running, and build it out from there.
Social media is another immense platform where advertising is simply accepted as part of the experience. Instead of getting a dinner-time cold call trying to sell you something, you get ads slipped into your news feed.
It’s powerful stuff. 64% of consumers say watching a marketing video on Facebook has influenced a purchase decision of theirs in the last month. Paid social media marketing is a valuable channel that can start producing results immediately.
Viral marketing is another type of social media marketing that can pay off in a big way, if you’re lucky. The trick here is to create a piece of content that generates huge conversations on the internet, skyrocketing your brand awareness and traffic.
A recent example of this is Gillette’s “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” ad. A just-under-two-minute commercial, it sparked huge discussions and debates with its strong social commentary, and was suddenly being talked about all over the internet. It’s a fantastic example of viral marketing.
Even emailing has changed. Modern email providers generally have very powerful spam detection, and as a result, spam email is a non-issue for most people.
From a marketing perspective, this means that if you want to pull off successful outbound email, you need to step away from old-school email blasts and use a totally different approach.
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide for how to be successful with outbound email:
- Get your email list from a reputable data provider.
- Upload it to a specialized bulk email sender. (More info on specialized bulk email senders here)
- Create an exceptional email. (Read more about creating perfect cold emails here)
- Perform A/B testing on your email sends.
- Analyze what worked and what didn’t, expand on the successful aspects and cut out the underperforming ones.
- Repeat from step 3.
Following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to stellar outbound marketing.
Bonus tip: if you have a high number of opens on mobile devices, check out these mobile email design best practices for cold email campaigns.
Expanding on The Basic Marketing Strategies
You can go much deeper with any of the strategies we’ve outline here. Not every business will see the same benefit from a given channel, so you’ll need to experiment with what works best for you.
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