Examples of Marketing Strategies
Understanding your market
So you’ve built this incredible product that you’d probably buy yourself and your grandma Ethel would too. Each time you mention it she nods enthusiastically with a similar level of excitement as your scotch fold cat, Bernard Schneebly when he bounds down the stairs, nuzzles your left leg and tries to gnaw your hand off as you open a fresh pack of salmon and gravy Sheba. Based on those over-enthusiastic opinions alone, you’ve taken out a loan for 70k to take it to market. You only live once, right?
You use that budget to pay for incredibly attractive, scantily clad Instagram models to pose in swimwear, holding your product and smiling in sunny places. 6 months later your company has ceased trading, you’ve been left with a crippling amount of personal debt and are no doubt heading for a personal crisis. What was your product anyway? Are you serious, a honey and mustard salad dressing?
The example above is ridiculous but in reality, it’s no worse than the mistakes made every day by companies both big and small. The trouble is, the marketing industry has this awful habit of over promising and under delivering.
Over-promising Agencies: What to Watch out for:
I’m going to ask you to do the unspeakable. Log into LinkedIn and have a look through your feed to spot the inflated marketing claims. This is a place that’s filled to the brim with more dodgy claims than the houses of parliament.
What I’m saying is this, stay conscious of nonsense merchants selling specialist marketing services. It might look something like this:
‘Influencer marketing made me a multimillionaire’
There’s a high chance it’s only ever made the influencers rich. Success with influencer marketing is hit and miss at best and there are a lot of fakers out there. If only there was a single strategy that would always lead to making millions….
I’d go as far as saying that it’s a massive fad that could do with some legal intervention. Anyone with 1000 Youtube subscribers thinks they deserve freebies, just because but there’s never a measure of return. There are some businesses out there that have bought into and wasted a lot of money on influencer marketing only to find the only benefit was a temporary increase in web traffic. Sure you could re-market to each and every visitor but it’s often not a targeted audience to begin with. There is a place for influencers within some niches but it’s not the golden egg that it’s often claimed to be.
‘My video increased their sales conversions by 906%’
This is an example of bending numbers, picking the anomaly to suggest more success or plucking numbers out of thin air to sell a product that isn’t selling. If the video was really that good, surely they’d be making millions from their own videos on their own website? So why do their videos not have the same result for them? Because they’re not talking about reality, they’re talking biased nonsense.
‘I’ve increased their rankings in Google, now they’re getting an 800% increase of website traffic and have a revenue of 1 million a year.’
That’s great and everything, master Yoda, but without starting numbers it’s essentially meaningless information. If they had 1 website visitor a month and it increased to 9 a month, that’s an 800% increase. On top of that, 1 million a year revenue doesn’t mean anything, it may have been that to start with?
Watch for the detail, ask questions and don’t buy into silver bullets, it takes hard work and intelligent planning to create a successful business.
Marketing is about targeted efforts in the appropriate channels for you, in your circumstances targeting the most likely people to buy your product. You’re lo\heir eyes to tempt them. A bit like when you put a bowl of Haribo, on the table, in front of guests.
Market Driven Products
I feel disappointed that so few marketers talk about this but beef aside, I’d be surprised if you’d ever even heard the phrase before. We live in a time of over-saturation in the marketing industry, and that fuels desperation.
Anyone who is anyone can call themselves a marketer/entrepreneur and through dropping prices they can win some customers but price is not the only leverage you can create. I’d recommend not placing yourself in that category unless you have extreme buying power or low overheads.
Part of our qualification process at Sweet Leads is identifying if we’re talking to people with a product driven mindset or one that’s driven by the market. The latter is what we look for otherwise we’re likely to be wasting time unless the product is truly innovative.
I say this word in every meeting I attend, please promise me you’ll remember it? The word is ‘egocentricity.’
It’s the key to failing at business and probably friendship too, if you’re taking an egocentric approach, you’re probably spending too much time talking about yourself instead of listening and responding to your market. Imagine attending a party and talking about yourself to everyone you meet? Telling them how great you are, the amazing things you’ve achieved and that time there was a guy stood at the end of your driveway in a dirty dressing gown, chanting in aramaic? Say what?
So many long words and weird phrases. In short, a ‘market driven product’ is the outcome of talking to your potential customers, actively engaging with them and taking an interest in their wants and needs. It will give you a good idea of where your product or service sits within reality. If nobody sees a point in your product or service and nobody wants to buy it or gets anything out of it, at least you’ll know not to waste your cash. You’re looking to create a product, driven by the market.
Your research will lead to further conversations with potential customers and eventually, you’ll hone in on the most likely people to buy your product or service and the reasons they would. It’s often narrowed down to 2-4 groups of target customers.
Marketing Strategy: Examples of Hard Work
If you’re one of very few people that has the courage, patience and determination to talk to the market, create a solution that someone wants and would gladly pay for, you now know who you’re targeting and a clue about pricing. This is a great starting point for your business, you could do very well from it. The alternative is to pay a market research company to do it for you but I’ve never used one, preferring to control the process myself rather than outsource.
These target customer groups are now the basis of your entire marketing strategy, some people call them demographics but I prefer to call them targets, it feels a bit less like we’re looking at them through test tubes of gooey stuff and through the scope of a bow that we’ll use to send our message.
So where do these guys hang out? The best way to find this out is to ask them and invite a ton of your target group to answer some questionnaires or interviews. For the sake of not leaving this article at an awkward dead end, like when you say ‘bye’ to your friend in town only to realise that you’re walking in the same direction for the next kilometre, absolutely silent and avoiding eye contact, we’re going to place this information into context for 3 examples that are representative of successful approaches to business, that I’ve encountered in the real world.
A Fully Funded Marketing Strategy: Retail and E-Commerce
Betty’s Sweatershop creates the most incredible bamboo, banana leaf and hemp sweaters. Through extensive market research, Betty has found her ideal customers. They’ve turned out to be middle class, British women, mostly located in coastal towns, into veganism and good causes like the environment.
So how can she use this information to fuel her marketing strategy and decide what marketing activities are worthwhile? She can research where these people go by talking to them directly.
Betty has honed in on her market and is spending a substantial amount of budget on attending specialised and targeted events including the vegan festival in Brighton, Boardmasters Festival in Newquay and many other smaller, niche events at least once per month.
Direct Marketing for partnerships
As she’s spent an extensive amount of cash on events so needs to work intelligently at targeting vegan specialist shops that might stock her sweaters or work in partnership. They’ve got the audience, she’s placing her product in front of it and they’re taking a cut. It’s a win-win strategy
Social Media and content
Betty has made the executive decision to create helpful, vegan and environment related content for consumption on social media, to increase visitors to her store. The platforms she’s decided to run with are Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram and her own blog. In addition to this she’ll be working in collaboration with low level influencers for a 10% profit share on sales. She’s also budgeted in £300 per month for social media advertising where she can directly target the right people.
As it’s so accessible and affordable, she’s chosen to list her unique products on Etsy but has decided to exclude Amazon from her strategy on grounds of environmental ethics. This is an intelligent consideration given her target market. If you’re targeting a socially conscious group, you’ll need to think each decision like this through.
With 6 months to test these highly targeted strategies, Betty is going to audit success and failure and optimise based on what is driving sales. This will lead to further refining targeting and optimising each channel based on the return on investment. This is what you should do too, continually audit the success of each channel but always allow it enough time to work.
There are ways of making money by spending money but you can also build a strategy based on your skill set. As a rule, I’d always recommend spreading your overall strategy across multiple marketing channels, most tables have 4 legs for stability, so maybe there’s a lesson there for your business?
Funeral Plans and Wills
Jones and Wheatley is an imaginary wealth planning business based on a company we’ve been working with.
They already have an established wealth planning service, where they work with individuals fortunate enough to have a few million stashed in bank accounts, a few 100k buried in their garden and another 50k inside each mattress in their house a bit like Pablo Escobar.
They’re launching a funeral payment plan alongside a will writing service, in partnership with a local law firm. Through extensive research, they’ve come to the conclusion that their target customer is aged 50+, male, attends conservative clubs, events with other affluent individuals and lives in the local area.
Targeted social events
They created 2 sets of targeted events. 1 is a weekly meat raffle that forms part of a older gents club outing. They sponsor the event, provide prizes and run the raffles. In order to enter the raffle, each entrant needs to fill out a form about whether or not they’d like to receive more information about funeral plans, wealth management or will writing. Event 2 is a sponsored bowls competition, which follows a similar process gathering data and consent from people who enter the competitions.
Upselling to Existing Customers
This is an up-selling exercise to their existing customer base. Each time they’re in contact with one of their wealth management clients, they’re going to mention the funeral payment plans.
It’s a fairly straightforward sell and it can’t hurt to mention it to an already faithful and trusting customer base.
Search Engine Advertising
In this instance they’re using display network ads and focusing in on some search terms. Each will lead to a unique landing page that aims to gather customer details, like email address, which services they’re interested in.
Facebook is a good way to target age groups and locations for a funnel building ad. Those that click will be ‘re-targeted,’ with adverts in both search engines and on social media. This means you’ll become more familiar with the website visitors and should make them more likely to convert into sales.
Since the launch of this product, which is a financial subscription starting at £5 per month lasting for up to 40 years, they’ve managed to win a significant amount of customers, roughly 35 per week. Over time that represents a significant amount of revenue with very few costs associated with it.
The Shoestring Strategy
When I started Sweet Leads, I wasn’t in the best financial situation, you might not be either? I was working a morning shift at a super market, every single day and would then work the evening and weekend shifts at a local pub. With neither time nor cash at my disposal I had to work intelligently and to my strengths.
My strengths lie in communication. I’ve always managed to get leads through direct contact, whether it’s on the phone, email or in letters and my content is a level up almost everyone else I know. As a highly capable and experienced sales and marketing specialist, I have a huge advantage in these areas. So I decided to put together a direct marketing strategy and a longer term, mass market content strategy.
Due to the size of my agency I chose to target 50 companies per month with short and appropriate cold contact like emails, letters and calls.
These are great marketing strategies for knocking down the doors and building a sales pipeline efficiently for a low cost.
Search Engine Optimisation
This was the long term strategy. Over time we’ve started to rank for very targeted search terms, from location through to national specialist services.
From these terms we probably get about 15 visitors a day, which is more than enough at this time. Any more and we could be overwhelmed.
A blend of mass market targeted content for brand awareness and tightly targeted content for search engines and social media.
This includes infographics, articles, social media posts and images, research pieces, partnerships and publications. A strategic content strategy is the part that connects the dots between each channel.
I used and continue to use LinkedIn for mass market content, these are posts that appeal to a huge proportion of people and tightly targeted content to attract the right people within my audience.
This is a very effective longer term content strategy that can help you build the foundations of your business.
Building your Marketing Strategy
It all starts with market research. There’s no point in taking something to market that nobody wants or cares about. It’s more tempting than the forbidden fruit to create a subscription box of something just because it looks like it’s easy revenue – a book told me that once. Don’t do it.
Always start with asking people, finding our the what’s and whys and follow these next few steps, which will guide your entire strategy forward.
What Marketing Channels do you have to choose from?
You might have heard, in marketing we have these things called ‘channels,’ unfortunately they’re not quite as exciting as the one’s you’ll find on TV, there are no movies about giant sharks here but there could be a pot of gold at the end of one.
A marketing channel is a way of communicating with your customers, there are so many and I promise not to get too theorietical here. These are the most common channels that you’ll come across each day:
PR/Public RelationsYou’ve seen experts appear on BBC news, being interviewed when someone manages to hack into something and steal money or hold someone to ransom by stealing photos of their bird. Poor Flossy, the great blue macaw, she’ll be traumatised. That’s a PR opportunity. It’s generally a very good strategy for brand awareness and includes newspapers, magazines, industry media and speaking opportunities.
Social mediaThere are many social media channels from Bebo to Instagram and back again. If social media is one of your channels of choice, that doesn’t mean you have struggle with every platform, simply choose the best one for you. How you approach each channel mostly depends on practice and experience, you’ll know when it’s going well and if you need to turbo charge it, there’s a lot of opportunity for paid advertising.
Done well, events are spectacular. You might have noticed a lot of negativity about them? It’s mostly the same people that moan about cold emails and calling. I know a company that runs invitation only events and makes a lot of money from filling the room with potential customers. It doesn’t have to be over priced expos, all it takes is a little clever thinking and you could do really well off the back of it.
The ultimate. Word of mouth referrals. If you can get customers to recommend you to their pals, you’re going to have a new customer or two from there. Imagine if you could get your customers to bring a friend to your invitation only events too or to engage with your posts on social media? All of these channels can work well together but all that matters is you focus your efforts where you can compete and get results.
This is where you find your target customers through asking questions. You might run a fashion brand and this will give you some new ideas about whether or not subscription formats,, bulk boxes for weddings, christmas gifts or whatever might work and who is likely to buy them. The best methods are as follows:
- Incentivised questionnaires and surveys. These need to capture as much data about potential target groups as possible, including age ranges, activities, genders and lifestyles.
- Focus groups. You’ll have to pay people for their time but for £20 per attendee, you could get 30 people for £600. The money this will save you in the long run will be well worth it.
Tips for Creating Marketing Strategies
Put your competitors under the microscope. Their strategies can give you clues about where the opportunity is for you. If they’re dominating search engines and paying for a lot of advertising but you’ve noticed their social media isn’t so hot, maybe that’s an opportunity for you?
It’s not worth competing on Adwords with companies that have extreme budgets. Perhaps their content sucks, nobody engages with it and that could be where your advantage is? I look at my competitors all the time, I add them on LinkedIn, check out their social media, content, their blogs and everything except their bins.
You can see their successes and failures. Sometimes they have a golden post or two that I can learn from, other times I can see how not to do it or maybe it will be clear I can’t compete? So I’ll take them into an arena I can win, like dragging a lion into the sea – he’s not the king there but another meal for the sharks.
Monitor Your ROI
If you’ve been spending £500 per month on advertising for 6 months but only made £8 of sales, then you need to change something. Not enough attention is paid to ROI and businesses continue with strategies because they always have. It’s a great way to waste money and
I make use of Xero for my management accounting and keep a close eye on revenue, spend and cash in the bank. This means that I can make important decisions to prevent my business from becoming a black hole for cash.
You can also dig deep and identify which customers are making you money and which are losing you money. These kinds of financial insights can prime your company for long term growth and identify your most ideal customers.
The Marketing Audit
You need to know what works and what doesn’t. Imagine setting up an Adwords campaign and just letting it run because it was generating some results. If you took a closer look, you’d probably find that some keywords were costing you a lot more per click, that there were certain days you’d get a good return and others that were costing a fortune. The thing with marketing is you have to start from nothing and adapt as time goes on. The key is paying attention and finding ways to adapt for the good of your business.
Set up a spreadsheet of each approach, costs associated with it and the results from that strategy then look closely at areas that are under delivering. There are more complex ways to do this involving accounts software and business intelligence systems but if you’re a small firm, a spreadsheet could do it.
Onwards and upwards
So we’ve reached the end of this article ‘Examples of Marketing Strategies’ and if you made it this far, chances are you’re serious about marketing and delivering a valuable product or service to your customers. That already puts you a giant leap ahead of the competition.
Once your business is up and running you can also use existing customer data to further target customers based on profitability. That’s what we’ll be covering next as it’s another game changing approach to developing a successful marketing strategy.
If you want to work in partnership with Sweet Leads, book into Christopher Robin’s calendar and we’ll see if we’re a good fit for one another, maybe you can meet the team too?