Strategy made simple - getting the fundamentals right

Strategy isn't always the easiest thing to get your head around. But it is always important. Especially for early-stage founders who are short on time and resources, and the future looks like a vast expanse of shiny opportunities.

Having a strategy gives you a framework for making decisions, so you can be super focused, spend resources wisely, and set your businesses up for success right from the start.

No strategy, no results

So often prospective clients share stories with me about money wasted on ads that don’t convert, monthly agency fees that resulted in nothing more than a few blogs and a newsletter, or PR campaigns with little coverage. This is what happens when there is no marketing strategy. You simply can’t know what tactics to use, and how to allocate precious budget effectively if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve.

I am on a mission to give founders the confidence and clarity to put them on the right track. This article is the first in a two-part series covering the key steps to building a marketing strategy for your business. 

So what is strategy anyway? 

A strategy is a plan for success. It starts with your long-term vision (where you want your business to be in say five years) and breaks that down into a series of shorter-term goals that are well-defined and manageable. From there you can work out what actions you need to take to get from where you are now, to where you want to be.  

The following points are a guide to help you gather the key information and assets you’ll need to build your marketing strategy.  Think of it as the audit or diagnosis which is the first part of the process.  I always feel like this is the boring bit that clients don’t want to do but this is where all the value and insight comes from.

1. Clarify your brand

Your brand isn’t just your logo and website design. It’s your mission, vision, and values. It’s what you stand for and how you show up as a business in everything you do. When you have real clarity about your brand, you also have a foundation for all your marketing and communication decisions.

Here’s a quick test: Can you answer these three questions about your product or service?

  • Who is it for?
  • What is it for? 
  • And most importantly, why does it matter? 

You now have the building blocks for your elevator pitch. Try it out on a few friendly customers or colleagues and get their feedback. Then write a better one. Keep going till you get it just right. 

2. Understand your industry

Do the research and leverage the information you have to understand your industry and where you fit.

Look at:

  • Market trends
  • Industry trends
  • Competitors

Who are the brands/businesses/people that are doing well in your market?  

Who’s inspiring? 

Who’s not?

3. More research and reviewing data

Figure out what’s already working when it comes to your marketing. And what’s not. Again, leverage the information you already have access to. 

a) Speak to your customers and prospects. There is so much that you can ask them that will help you better understand them and their needs. Here are a few questions:

  • Why are they buying your service? 
  • Why did they buy from you?
  • What are their challenges? 
  • What are their beliefs? 
  • Where do they go for information?
  • What other brands are they buying from?

b) Explore the data.

The more data you have to work with the more informed you are!  So don’t forget your audience and customer data from your own CRM and Google Analytics. There are also helpful tools like:

  • Answer the Public
  • Buzzsumo 
  • Sparktoro

c) Review your marketing activities.

Spend time reviewing your marketing to date. What has worked well and what hasn’t? Look at the numbers and the data.   This is a big one.  

Without data, it’s difficult to make informed decisions.

If you have data like CPA (what it costs to acquire a customer) and CLV (what the customer is worth to you over its lifetime), add this to your data pool!

4. Do a SWOT 

A SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threat) is a great tool to get all those ideas and opportunities that are swirling around in your mind down on paper. And ready to use.

Work your way through these steps and you’ll be building the foundations for your business and marketing success. In part 2, we’ll hone in on the essentials of developing a marketing strategy.