In today’s competitive era, it has become important to follow a marketing process; thus, if you don’t have a marketing process in place, then it’s the right time to start drawing one up as it informs you about all other efforts in your business, from the pricing strategy, positioning strategy to the go-to-market strategy. And while it may sound complex and overwhelming, it’s easy.
So, without any further ado, let’s move forward and learn its basics.
What is the Marketing Process?
The marketing process includes all the steps a company needs to analyze market opportunities, recognize a target customer, and build a multi-faceted marketing strategy to communicate with those customers and qualify leads for the sales team.
The marketing process aims to make potential customers aware of the company’s presence and develop the brand’s identity to sell to those customers.
While marketing processes can differ widely depending on the company and the industry, they usually have five steps.
When you need to develop a marketing strategy as strong as it is scalable, you must make a mindful effort to tackle the marketing process using clear-cut steps that eradicate guesswork and leave little scope for error.
The Five Steps of the Marketing Process
Your marketing process should be unique to your company, but you should usually follow the same five marketing process steps while building a strategy for any company.
Step 1: Defining the brand
The first part of the marketing process is to determine who you are as a company. Thus make sure that you use words precisely while explaining who you are. You should also draw up a mission statement that explains what makes your business different and your vision as a company.
Tips to help you define your brand
While creating a brand is fun in theory, this concept is much more complicated in practice and demands a lot of pointed thought and brainstorming. But, then, all you have to do is to answer five questions.
While setting out to define your brand and layout your mission statement, answer these five questions:
- Who are my buyers?
- Who are my contenders?
- What problem do I solve?
- What makes me different from others who solve this problem?
- What sort of personality do I want my brand to have?
Once you answer all these questions, your mission statement should flow smoothly from your brain.
Step 2: Building a customer profile
You can’t build a marketing strategy without understanding your customer, and that’s where a customer profile plays a crucial role.
Ideally, you need to have a few customer profiles with their names, so when you communicate to your team, everyone understands which kind of customer you’re referring to when you say “Joe” or “Susan.”
A good customer profile cuts down the following general aspects about individual customers:
- Education level
- Job title
- Needs and pain points
- How they currently solve their problem
Tips to help you define your customers
You may already have the privilege of meeting your customers constantly in a brick-and-mortar store. However, if you run an eCommerce store or sell SaaS software, you may have to dig a little deeper to know your clients.
- Use NAICS codes: Suppose you don’t have a solid customer base to define. In that case, you can still carry out some good research by studying your competitors’ NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) codes, which will show you what industry they’re in (and, therefore, what industry you’re in).
You can then consider these NAICS codes and look up comprehensive market research on these industries to determine what your customer looks like. This research is usually costly, but you can access it free through a local library with a small business program.
- Survey your customers: If you already own a customer base, a smart way to start knowing them is to ask them questions in a questionnaire. And don’t just survey them once; try to do it regularly, maybe quarterly or semi-annually.
Making it this way will also enable you to find any changes in preferences or demographics on your customers’ part and will allow you to adapt.
Step 3: Developing a strategy
Now that you understand who you are and your customer, you can develop a comprehensive marketing strategy. First, make sure that your marketing strategy is integrated, indicating all marketing channels — video, blog posts, print, social media, and the like — are going together to deliver the same message. You’ll also have to plan marketing goals.
For instance, how many customers do you wish to reach in every channel? What level of engagement do you desire to achieve? How many qualified prospects would you want by the end of the quarter or the year? Finally, what sort of budget will you dedicate to these efforts?
Also, keep in mind that sales and marketing go hand in hand, and your marketing goals should have your sales team and their goals in mind.
Tips for developing a strategy
Not every marketing strategy fits all brands. For instance, one brand may depend heavily on social media while another’s customers may favor email marketing. Below, we explore some opportunities to develop a strategy that’s a fit for your business.
- Focus narrowly: You’ve to be practical about what you can achieve with your resources. While a multifaceted marketing strategy is essential, you cannot tackle too many different channels —try to focus on just a few where you understand you can be most effective with the fewest resources, whether that be time or money. Then, evaluate the resources you have now and conduct team meetings to converge on what you can realistically achieve over, say, a quarter.
- Explore marketing partnerships: Doing marketing on your own is difficult, especially when you’re a comparatively small or brand-new business. But, odds are, other small businesses out there prevent the high cost of outsourcing content, digital, and email marketing.
For example, suppose you implement IT services to small- and mid-sized businesses. In that case, you could team up with one of those businesses to build a series of YouTube videos on the significance of cyber security for small businesses.
Step 4. Execute
You have got a plan, data, a product, pricing, pretty much everything you require to make your strategy work like a charm. Now it’s time to go to the “go” button. Put together a plan for all your ads, posts, and other promotions and launch your strategy.
Step 5: Evaluating and adjusting the strategy
If you’re not utilizing marketing software, it’s time to get some. To maximize your effectiveness, you’ll require software that can track your data and generate actionable reports based on marketing analytics that show you which channels are working the best for you and which aren’t.
These reports should also inform you which campaigns resonate with customers and which stories aren’t connecting. For instance, perhaps no organization has changed its marketing strategy over the years more than Netflix, which started sending DVDs to customers but now depends almost entirely on streaming content and even produces its award-winning TV shows and movies. As your business changes, your marketing strategy must change with it.
Tips for evaluating and adjusting your strategy
All brands have to reevaluate the success of their marketing efforts to make sure they are meeting their aims and spending their marketing dollars wisely. However, there are a few ways to keep your finger on the pulse to tweak your strategy accordingly.
- Look for shifts: When you analyze data, you look for shifts — whether that be a large, seismic one that could represent a massive opportunity for your business right now or a slight change that might seem minor but could predict bigger things down the road.
For instance, if you notice that your customers have gradually migrated toward a cloud-based version of your product, that could symbolize a long-term trend that you should be planning for now.
- Watch your competitors: Don’t just see within for insight; look outside as well. For instance, your competitors’ activities could provide hints on where the market is headed and help you modify your strategy accordingly.
If you observe a couple of contenders start selling to enterprise customers, that could signify that the small business market is beginning to dry up. Therefore you should research methods to adapt your product for larger clients.
In this blog, we have seen five steps of the marketing process that will help you plan and build a powerful marketing strategy. When you consider all these steps while planning, it lets you create a flexible approach that will help you in the long run.