Strategy is everything when it comes to marketing. Without a clearly defined marketing process in place, even the very best in business can find themselves dazed and confused in a hurry.
Of course, creating a successful marketing process is easier said than done. It takes a careful eye for detail and an understanding of your business on a deeper level. A lot of marketers think they’ve done their homework until they realize how much planning is actually involved in executing a marketing process that gets them measurable results.
You don’t want to be that person.
In order to market a product or service the right way, you need to have a superb grasp over the steps it takes to sell it. Apple doesn’t just announce, “Here’s the new iPhone! Buy it now!” They plan and execute an in-depth strategy based on a well-planned marketing process. These consist of several important pieces that make up the bigger puzzle.
In this post, we’re going to define what a marketing process is and the steps you need to take as a marketer to successfully carry one out.
Defining a Marketing Process
“Marketing is not an event, but a process. It has a beginning, a middle, but never an end, for it is a process. You improve it, perfect it, change it, even pause it. But you never stop completely."
Those words from the late Jay Conrad Levinson sum up what a marketing process should be in a nutshell. Every individual marketing process needs to be adaptable to fit the needs of your business. It should define the steps you take as a business in order to ensure marketing initiatives are properly executed.
There are five fundamental pillars of a marketing process that you should consider as you build them out. Adapt and innovate as needed, but use these steps as a starting point to add a strategic methodology to your overall marketing vision for a particular product or service.
Step 1: Map Out Your Mission
The very first step in building a marketing process is so simple, but it’s also far too important to ignore: identify your company’s mission.
This generally begins with a mission statement that clearly outlines what you represent as a company. Do you want to keep it concise and straightforward — share who you are and what you do? Or are you looking to inspire your audience with your message? Whichever you choose, it needs to identify you as a company. For example, outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia’s mission statement reads like this:
“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
From that one sentence, you understand what Patagonia’s values are as a brand. It’s also important to note that a mission statement is different from an “about us” section. You’re not telling your company story — you’re highlighting its value as a business in a concise manner.
If your company doesn’t have a mission statement, set up a meeting with C-Suite members or stakeholders to create one. At the very least, though, you should speak with them, so everyone understands why the company exists. This is crucial. This reason will serve as the basis for your marketing process and every step that follows.
Step 2: Analyze Your Situation
Jumping blindly into a marketing initiative without understanding the internal and external implications of your actions is not only foolish — it can be costly.
As a marketer, you need to do your research by examining things such as the strength of your business, who your main competitors are, and how your company fits into the overall marketplace. Don’t try to trick yourself into believing your company is something that it’s simply not. Be completely honest and open about every aspect of your business so you can help it grow over time.
The most common method to achieve this is through something called a SWOT analysis. This helps your company identify its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). To run a SWOT analysis, you need to come up with questions that address each of these individual factors.
Strengths and weaknesses focus on the internal part of your company while opportunities and threats are what impact your marketing efforts externally. This also helps you understand strategic positioning among competitors to better determine how to leverage opportunities that are unique to your business.
Another method that’s often used is known as the 5C analysis: company, collaborators, competitors, climate, customers. This also incorporates how internal and external factors impact your business and how it functions in the marketplace. The idea is similar to a SWOT analysis since you need to formulate your questions based on these individual factors.
Step 3: Build Your Strategy
The first thing you want to identify in this step is your target audience. Who is your product or service made for exactly? To make it clear who those people are, you should segment your market into geographic, demographic, behavioral, and psychographic factors.
Your situation analysis may have provided you with a base already, but now’s the time to really nail down user personas. How old are the people buying your product or service? Where do they live? Are they single parents? Are they athletes? You need to be as specific as possible with your user personas. This is a great opportunity to reach out to loyal customers to get feedback. You can even dig through Google Analytics to ground your personas in data.
Target audiences are also nurtured over time and not static. That means you need to stay on top of their changing needs and understand what they want and why. You might decide to expand your product or service to include new features. If you do, reassess how your target audience internalizes those changes on an ongoing basis.
“Focus on identifying your target audience, communicating an authentic message that they want and need and project yourself as ‘expert’ within your niche.” - Kim Garst
After you’ve identified your target audience, you need to set up tangible marketing goals. These aren’t lofty ideas with no basis. These are goals that follow what’s known as the S.M.A.R.T. system: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-based.
If you decide your goal is to increase sales of your product or service by 50% over the next year, then you need to take the necessary steps to get there. There’s no limit on how many goals you can set, either. Sometimes, there are multiple goals that you need to meet to achieve the success you want through a marketing initiative. The important thing is to have them set out beforehand, so you know exactly what you’re working towards.
The last and, in some cases, most important thing you need to have is a budget. How much money can your company set aside for your marketing initiatives and where is that money going? This includes everything in your marketing strategy from advertising to content to event planning.
Do you need Facebook ads? Are you filming high-quality marketing videos with a professional filmmaker? Is there an event you’re trying to set up? All these things fall under the budget. Once you know how much money you’re able to spend — you can adjust accordingly.
At Ghostit, we mapped out our mission, analyzed our situation, and found that having marketing templates is extremely helpful. These allow us to translate our goals into smart objectives that we can then measure. From there, we can put together marketing plans easily based on past success.
These templates will often take the form of a “Blog Post Promotion” or “E-book Launch Campaign” with all the necessary steps laid out. Within that template, we can go in and customize the content to make the campaign successful with speed, accuracy, and quality.
Step 4: Establish a Marketing Mix
A marketing mix is essentially building a business plan to help you reach key goals. Creating a marketing mix usually follows the four Ps: product, price, promotion, place. These factors will help you push your product or service while focusing on the needs of your target audience. Are people going to see ads for your products on the side of a bus? What kind of branding will it have? Where is it going to be available? These are all questions that you have to answer as part of your marketing mix. It’s breaking down how your product or service is going to get into the hands of your customers.
Think of it as taking all of your research and conceptualization from the first three steps and using it to build a roadmap that goes from macro to micro. Take your primary business goal and work backward to understand the best tactics to reach your target audience.
Once you’ve identified those tactics, you can segment them even further. For example, you can decide the best advertising platforms to focus on, the top search engine keywords to center your website content around, and the type of influencers to partner with to expand your reach.
Step 5: Review and Refine
Once you’ve implemented your marketing process, you need to start measuring early and often. Analyze the metrics behind your marketing initiatives. This will allow you to make informed decisions about how you should proceed.
Did you meet all your goals? Where did you fall short? Which products or services were the most successful? Take all this data into consideration, so you’re adjusting your marketing process accordingly. Fill in the gaps and make improvements where needed. You can examine everything from overall revenue to how many new visitors you had on your site in the last month.
It’s a good idea to create measurement reports to benchmark performance between certain time-frames. There are different types of software on the market to use for data measurement and analysis, but the most common is Google Analytics.
Identify your key goals, as well as corresponding KPIs, and track them for easy measurement. In Google Analytics, you can set up goals based on sales, demo requests, viewing a certain page, or even phone number clicks. This can add quantitative data to help you assess the effectiveness of your marketing process.
From an external perspective, you also need to keep a close eye on your competitors. How much success are they having with their products or services? Is their pricing more competitive for a similar product or service you’re pushing? Answering questions like this will help you gain a better understanding of the overall marketplace landscape.
If you are looking for a tool that will help you stay on top of your marketing processes as well as handle all your content distribution sign-up for Ghostit’s free trial.