Documenting your strategic marketing process will help you to achieve your marketing and business goals.

OVERVIEW

How do you increase the chances of marketing success? By documenting a Strategic Marketing Process.

It makes sense, right? It’s been proven that documenting the steps required to obtain a personal goal, like buying your first house or running a marathon, increase your likelihood of achieving it. The same is true of your marketing goals.

By documenting your Strategic Marketing Process (and all of your business processes, for that matter) you boost the odds of achieving your marketing AND business goals.

In fact, marketers who document strategy are 538% more likely to report success than those who don’t. (CoSchedule – State of Marketing Strategy Report.)

What is a Strategic Marketing Process?
A strategic marketing process documents the series of steps needed to satisfy customer needs while achieving your business goals.

Our strategic marketing process is divided into four sections:

  1. Mission, Vision, and Business Goals
  2. Situation Analysis
  3. Marketing Strategy
  4. Marketing Mix

We’ll explain each section in detail so you can see why it's important, why the process should be completed in the order indicated, how the sections relate to one another, and how a solid strategic marketing process increases your chances of marketing success.

Section 1: Mission, Vision, and Business Goals

Some of the small business owners, solopreneurs, and side hustlers we meet think mission and vision statements are a bunch of hooey. “Why should I waste my time writing statements that contain a bunch of meaningless buzzwords?”

Ah…what corporate America has done to corrupt two very valuable tools.

It’s true that some mission and vision statements do contain a bunch of meaningless buzzwords. But well-crafted mission and vision statements, written with real words and truth, not a bundle of corporate-speak, will provide four crucial benefits to your business:

    • Convey the purpose of your business to employees, customers, and community
    • Provide clear direction for strategy development
    • Establish measurable goals to gauge the success of the strategy
    • Guide your decision-making process when opportunities and challenges arise

Your Mission Statement
Your mission statement is the heart and soul of your business. It’s what your business IS. Your mission statement defines:

    • Why your business exists
    • How your business will serve its employees, customers, and community
    • How you, your employees, and anyone who acts on behalf of your business will behave

The third point is really about the values of your business. Some businesses create a separate values statement. At Sagittas Marketing we combine the values with the mission because we think they work best when expressed together.

Your mission statement should be no more than three sentences. It might include words like “inspire,” “healthy,” “affordable,” “strive,” “essential,” “authentic,” “accelerate,” “sustainable,” “enable,” “fulfill,” “spark,” etc. You get the idea.

Your Vision Statement
Your company’s vision statement is the BIG PICTURE of what you want to accomplish over time as you fulfill your mission. It defines the aspirations you have for your business, community, or the world.

    • Two things your vision statement SHOULD BE: Realistic and achievable
    • Two things your vision statement SHOULD NOT BE: Generic and/or ambiguous

A good vision statement guides, inspires, and challenges you and your employees in one clear and concise sentence. It might include words like “become,” “create,” “better,” “innovate,” “reward,” “build,” “teach,” etc.

Imagine the advantage you’ll gain when you have clearly stated mission and vision statements that provide clarity, focus, and direction, while your competitors spout gibberish!

Plus, you won’t waste time you don’t have sitting at Starbucks asking your partners or co-workers, “What do you think?” and hearing, “I don’t know, what do you think?”

Your Business Goals
There are no right or wrong business goals, only those that matter to you. But identifying business goals is about knowing where you’ve been, where you are now, where you want to be, and most important, how you are going to get there.

To answer that question, we first develop a SWOT Analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats).

A SWOT Analysis is a strategic planning tool that consists of two parts:

    • The methodical gathering of data that identifies the internal, external, macro, and micro forces that impact a market
    • The evaluation of the data to determine how your business can compete in a market

We know what you’re thinking: “I am SOOO optimistic about my business! Only the most pessimistic Debbie Downer would think about weaknesses and threats.”

It’s hard for anyone to be objective and assess weaknesses and threats when beginning a business venture. The market is huge! Consumers will buy no matter what!

But failure is the very real result of not contemplating how external forces and your own shortcomings will affect your ability to compete in a market. On the flip side, understanding your strengths and opportunities and how to position your business to take maximum advantage of them will help you to succeed.

The SWOT Analysis

    • Strengths
      • Assesses what the business does well and better than its competitors
      • Identify the unique skills, knowledge, and experience of employees
      • Describe what makes it profitable
    •  Weaknesses
      • Identify areas in need of improvement
      • Determine what resources are lacking
      • Diagnose drains on profits
    •  Opportunities
      • Determine ways to further engage existing customers/clients
      • Describe new customers
      • Enter new markets
      • Introduce complementary products or services
    •  Threats
      • Pinpoint legal, economic, and environment obstacles
      • Identify the strengths of competitors

A SWOT analysis doesn’t need to be overly complicated. In fact, if you're like most small business owners, your strengths and weaknesses are probably known to you (even if you don't readily admit to them). It's the opportunities and threats that will take a bit of research. But your SWOT analysis does need to give you a realistic picture of where your business stands.

Section 2: The Situation Analysis

A situation analysis helps to identify the sustainable advantages your business has over its competitors so that you can serve your customers profitably.

The key words here are “sustainable” and “profitably”. Any business can have advantages. But if they’re not sustainable AND profitable, your business will not survive.

The most widely used situation analysis is the 5C Analysis. Just like the SWOT Analysis, the 5C Analysis is a strategic planning tool consisting of:

    • The methodical gathering of data that identifies the internal, external, macro, and micro forces that impact a market
    • The evaluation of the data to determine how your business can compete in a market

The 5Cs are defined as:

    • Company
      • Analyzes the company’s vision, strategies, abilities, products and/or services, technological prowess, objectives, resources, and objectives
    •  Competitors
      • Identifies the market share, positioning, strengths, and weaknesses of the businesses that compete within the same markets
    •  Customers
      • Strives to understand the size, behavior, buying habits, and possibilities for growth of the ideal target market
    •  Collaborators
      • Recognizes the business partners, distributors, suppliers, and agencies on whom the business depends to bring its product/service to market
    •  Climate
      • Evaluates the political, economic, social and/or cultural, technological, environmental, and legal (PESTEL) factors

We’ll be honest with you. Depending on your industry, preparing a 5C Analysis can be a lot of work. There are a TON of questions to be answered and a lot of information that needs to be gathered.

You've probably noticed there's some overlap between the SWOT and the 5C. That's because marketing is about helping your customers understand that your product or service provides the best possible solution to their problem. But more on how this comes together in the Section 3, Marketing Strategy.

Once your 5C research is done, the results need to be interpreted in a way that’s helpful to determine your forward progress. The interpreting can often be more art than science. But the results of your SWOT should help to guide you.

The trick is to not twist yourself into knots. The goal of the analysis is to determine how you can create sustainable and profitable advantages to develop long-term relationships with your customers.

Section 3: Marketing Strategy

In the section above we said that marketing is about helping your customers understand that your product or service provides the best possible solution to their problem. That's the purpose of your marketing strategy:

To identify and clearly articulate the benefits of your product or service to your target market through a strong value proposition.

As a small business owner, solopreneur, or side hustler, you work hard first to find, then convert prospects into customers. You’re likely aware that a prospect’s buying process involves weighing the perceived benefits of a product or service against the cost.

But how do you help a prospect to see that your product or service is the better choice and thereby increase the number of prospects you’re able to convert?

By crafting a strong value proposition that appeals to your ideal customer.

Your value proposition is a clear, concise statement that differentiates your product from your competitors’ by describing the benefit derived by your ideal customer.

Note the three keys to a strong value proposition:

    • Differentiation
    • Benefit
    • Ideal customer

Where do you find the keys? They’re in your mission statement, SWOT analysis, and situational analysis. All the answers you need to write your value proposition are contained within sections 1 and 2 of your marketing process.

Remember, too, that your value proposition won’t appeal to everyone. That’s ok. You can’t be all things to all people. And you don’t want to be. That’s a waste of resources.

Crafting a truly valuable and solid value proposition is likely one of the most challenging tasks a small business owner, solopreneur, or side hustler faces. But remember – your primary job as a marketer is to ALWAYS reinforce your value proposition to your ideal customer.

For each campaign your creative team develops, it's your job to ensure that the value proposition is properly communicated. (Trust us. Creative folks often go off the rails here. They'll show you ads with really pretty pictures and jazzy copy that won't communicate your value proposition to your ideal customer and you won't make your numbers.)

Set SMART Goals and a Budget
Two additional pieces of your marketing strategy are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based) goals and budget.

SMART goals connect your business goals to the actions you will take to achieve them.

    • Specific
      • State EXACTLY what you want to accomplish
    •  Measurable
      • If you can’t measure it, don’t do it
    •  Attainable
      • Make it worthwhile but not impossible
    •  Relevant
      • It should relate to your business goals
    •  Time-based
      • Set a deadline by which it must be accomplished

How much you need to spend – in both money and time – to achieve your SMART Goals will determine your budget. It could be a percentage of your annual revenue, an amount you suspect a competitor spends, or a number you determine must be spent in order to achieve the goal.

Section 4: The Marketing Mix

Once your strategy is in place it can be stated through the 4Cs – consumer, cost, convenience, and communication. The 4Cs are also known as the Marketing Mix.

(We use the 4Cs, introduced in 1990 by Robert Lauterborn, rather than the 4Ps – product, price, promotion, and place – because they represent a more customer-centric way for our clients to match the strengths of their products or services to the customers in the niche markets they serve.)

  • Consumer
    • Offer what the consumer wants to buy, not what you want to sell to him or her
  •  Cost
    • Determine what the consumer will pay for the product or service
  •  Convenience
    • Determine where the consumer will find the product or service and how s/he will purchase it
  •  Communication
    • Determine how you will let the consumer know about your product or service

The 4Cs of the Marketing Mix force you to think about and understand your target market BEFORE you begin to develop your marketing materials.

How much would you be willing to bet that folks who say “Marketing is a waste of money," “SEO doesn’t work for me," or “I don’t generate any sales from email" created their campaigns without having a marketing strategy in place that helped them to understand what the customer wanted, how much s/he was willing to pay, where s/he would buy it, and how s/he would find out about it?

Once your marketing process is complete, you’re ready to move on to the marketing plan and campaign development step. At that point you’ll outline how or if you’ll separate your customers/prospects into segments based on demographics, purchasing history, level of interest, etc., and what channels and tactics you’ll use to communicate with them.

Summary

A Strategic Marketing Process documents the series of steps needed to satisfy customer needs while achieving your business goals. The four steps of the strategic marketing process are:

  • Mission, Vision, and Business Goals
  • Situation Analysis
  • Marketing Strategy
  • The Marketing Mix

By working through each of the four steps in order, you’ll have a solid Strategic Marketing Process in place that will enable you to reinforce your value proposition to your ideal customer, helping him or her to understand why s/he should choose your product or service over a competitor's.

You’ll also waste less time, money, and effort on marketing materials and campaigns that will never achieve your goals.

We know we've thrown a lot of information at you. And, depending on your product or service, preparing a strategic marketing plan will probably take several weeks, if not a couple of months. But that’s ok. Your business will be better for it in the long run.

A wise man once said, "You're running a business, not a hobby."

An effective marketing strategy will help you to allocate your resources in the right areas and give you confidence in the direction you’ve chosen.

If you have questions about how to get started on your strategic marketing process, feel free to contact us.

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