Marketing strategy basics for better sales

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It can be hard to know where to begin when planning and developing a sales and marketing strategy. Business owners are bombarded with new technologies, innovations being developed at a rapid pace, a swirl of performance metrics, and of course, self-doubt.

It’s a lot of pressure because what you plan today, you’ll have to show ROI tomorrow. You can plan for success by putting together a sales and marketing strategy by following this step by step guide.

1. Budget for success

Make sure you’ve allocated enough resources, both people and money, to accomplish your company’s goals for the year. The size of your marketing budget will also depend on how much you have available to invest and how quickly you want to see results. If you have ‘pie in the sky’ dreams and you can only really afford a slice of that pie, due to a restricted budget, you’ll be disappointed by your lack of results and your team will be frustrated by their inability to meet your expectations.

The key is to develop a successful marketing budget and tailor your marketing activities around it. Once you have developed the right monthly budget plan for your company, you can then become creative with your marketing, by finding innovative and strategic ways that can make your budget stretch further each and every month.

2. Review and update your ideal customer profile and personas

Look back at your best customers and identify the characteristics that make them profitable and enjoyable to work with. Make sure your ideal customer profile and buyer personas are accurate and update them as necessary to reflect the kinds of customers who will help you reach your growth goals. Having the right target audience profile in mind will allow you to tailor your marketing messages and even channels that you use. Eventually, you will have a better understanding on who you want to talk to, when you want to talk to them, how you want to talk to them, and what you actually want to say to them.

3. Document your buyer’s journey

Once your personas are updated, document the journey each persona will take toward becoming a customer. Your contacts take lots of tiny steps along the way to becoming a buyer. Plot out every interaction point your personas will have with your content or your company. This is your buyer’s journey and each persona has their own.

Start at the end:

  • Determine what call to action to include in order to lead them to the next step
  • What will they do immediately before signing a contract with you or buying your product?
  • What’s the step before that?
  • The one before that?
  • At each point along the way, identify the persona’s main questions, motivations, and potential objections
  • Then identify the kinds of content you’ll need to create to meet them at each point along the buyer’s journey

Move on to the beginning:

  • Who is your ideal buyer or target audience?
  • What are their needs?
  • Find out what their buying habits are
  • What are they searching for from a brand?
  • What LSM (Living Standards Measure) do they fall under?
  • How do they want to be reached?
  • What services are they looking for?

Don’t forget about determining your influencers in the process. Feed your main contact the content they need to help educate and sell your brand internally. With the right influencers on your side, you will be able to promote your brand and get your message out there to a wide spectrum of people.

4. Confirm what makes your brand different

Make sure you’re clear on what makes you different from your competitors. Talk to some of your customers and find out why they chose to buy from you and what could make them switch teams and buy from your competitors instead. A good way to gather this information would be to ask your clients to rate your services using questionnaires or some form of short survey. Doing this will allow you to gather insight into what your clients really think about your brand and its offerings, as well as what you can do differently to enhance and build on what you already offer. In this process, you will be able to identify what works for your brand and what really doesn’t work.

5. Organise your marketing collateral

Make sure that your printed and digital marketing materials are written and designed to attract your ideal customers and communicate your company’s unique qualities to prospects and customers. Verify that copyright dates are updated, that your style guidelines are being followed, and that everyone on your sales team is using the right version.

6. Look at your website and online marketing

Take a look at your website and social media channels to make sure they’re designed to attract and educate your target audience. Make sure that you are posting regularly and that you are in fact posting the kind of content that your readers want to see. A good rule to follow is that your content should never just be sales-orientated. Mix it up by having shared link posts along with original articles that will provide your readers with interesting content. You should constantly be asking:

  • Is your branding and messaging consistent?
  • Are you engaging with the right target audience?
  • Is your content compelling and educational?

7. Review and document your sales process

  • Is your sales process set up to close the quality and quantity of customers you need to reach your company’s growth goals?
  • Does everyone on your sales team follow the same process for qualifying and nurturing prospects?
  • Is your process documented?
  • Is your CRM (customer relationship management) system set up to support your process efficiently and effectively?
  • Could you be using any automated tools to make your process more efficient?

Document any issues you uncover while you’re reviewing your collateral, processes, and templates. Look for ‘dark pools’— areas of your process where prospects or customers get lost or ignored due to lack of time, energy, and resources.

8. Document your sales and marketing strategy

Prioritise the issues you’ve identified and develop a phased approach to tackling them over the next four quarters. Depending on the issues you’ve identified, you may need to develop tactical plans for:

  • Content/inbound marketing
  • Social media
  • Lead generation
  • Lead nurturing
  • Account development

9. Track your progress and evolve your tactics

Make sure you have defined metrics for measuring success and have assigned individual team members to be accountable for solving each issue.

  • Set up regular meetings to review progress
  • Identify and solve issues
  • Align activities across teams
  • Learn from your mistakes and victories
  • Evolve your tactics as needed to maintain your traction

Next steps

There’s a lot of work to do when it comes to your sales and marketing strategy, and it can be tough to be objective about your own company when you’re so close to it. Still have questions about how to prioritise, how to get it all done, or how much it will cost?

Further reading