Questions we often hear from marketers:
- We should get more social media followers, right?
- We should write a white paper, right?
- We should send more marketing emails, right?
- We need to create some more brochures, right?
- We should start a blog, right?
The answer to these questions is often yes, but yet the questions represent a mistake extremely common to marketers - focusing too much on tactics.
Marketers are typically very detail-oriented, focused, and tactical - it’s what makes us great at what we do. Yet, it's easy to get so absorbed in the day-to-day that we forget to make decisions and prioritize our tasks based on any purposeful strategy.
This tactical approach is why our marketing tactics can sometimes be ineffective, or, in short...suck.
How to not suck anymore
Marketing teams are far more effective when they take the time to zoom out and create strategies that focus not on tactics, but on their companies' overarching goals. Then, they can align the tactics they execute each day and week with smart strategies based on higher goals.
So how do you develop these strategies?
Creating SMART marketing goals based on company goals
The first step to creating a successful marketing strategy is aligning your marketing department’s goals to the larger financial goals of your company. Is your company trying to increase their market share? Sell more units? Retain more customers? Generate greater public awareness?
If you’re not involved in strategic planning/goal meetings, meet up with company leaders to understand what these goals are.
You’ll likely discover that it’s several of these and more, but push your company leadership to prioritize so you can order your marketing plans and tactics underneath the umbrella of the company’s wider priorities.
Let’s say your company is just getting started and your main goal is to acquire more customers.
Getting more customers is different depending on your product and the length of your sales cycle, but for example’s sake, let’s keep it general. Your #1 goal is getting more customers.
Some marketers would hear this and start creating social accounts and posting product-based posts - “Come check out our amazing coffee” or “Buy one of these fab t-shirts.”
This sales-y approach doesn’t work well because:
- You probably have very few followers seeing this, and
- They probably don’t care about your product (harsh but true!) because you haven’t provided any value to them by immediately attempting to sell.
With that in mind, I encourage these marketers to zoom out and look at the big picture starting at the top of the funnel.
If you want to acquire more customers, regardless of your product/business, you need to generate brand awareness. Once you’ve done that, you need to capture some leads. Once you’ve captured leads, you’ve got to nurture the leads until they are ready to buy. Once they’ve bought your product, you should find ways to delight them so they continue to buy more. Now, you have your marketing priorities in place:
- Generate awareness
- Capture leads
- Nurture leads
- Close deals
- Delight customers
If you're a savvy inbound marketer, this might look very similar to the "Inbound Marketing Methodology" graphic that HubSpot uses to explain what inbound marketing is all about.
These five steps are a lot to conquer all at once, so start small. For this month/quarter/6 months/whatever time-frame you think is feasible, focus on step 1 - generating awareness. Set a SMART goal for awareness. This goal should be:
Specific - Have a clear target to aim for
Measurable - Assign a number to this goal so you can measure your progress
Actionable - You should be able to assign concrete tasks that lead to goal achievement
Relevant - Goal should move your department/company toward larger, overarching goals
Time-bound - Goals without deadlines are rarely reached. Set a deadline for each goal.
Example: Increase website traffic by 10% every week this month.
Assigning tactics to your SMART marketing goals
Once you have 1-3 big SMART goals you want to focus on in a given period of time, you can assign a mix of inbound and more traditional, "outbound" tactics for each. This step helps you break down the small tasks that need to be done in order to reach your larger goal.
Example: To increase website traffic by 10% every week this month we are going to:
- Publish 4 original blog posts (1 per week)
- Create paid social posts driving traffic to blog
- Write 4 guest posts for other industry blogs with links back to our site (1 per week)
- Develop email campaign for existing and/or paid lead lists
After a week, check your progress and determine whether these tactics indeed increased web traffic by 10% that week. If not, recalibrate, brainstorm and adjust your methods until you reach your goal.
How to move forward after reaching tactic-driven goals
Once you feel you have enough web traffic (or once you’re growing weekly traffic in a consistent way), you can move on to tactics that support the next phases of the buying process and move you closer to your overarching goal of acquiring customers. In this case, figure out how to capture leads from all the web traffic you’re now getting. You get the idea…
As long as you are continually setting data-driven goals, measuring progress toward those goals, and recalibrating tactics to find what works best, you’ll always be moving toward success.