Everyone trying to kick start a company will be spending most of their time working on marketing. Most likely, the first thing these people will be introduced to is the marketing strategy that they build alone, with a partner, or with the help of a marketing specialist. And this strategy boils down to the overall execution of that plan. Nowadays knowing your way around marketing is a skill that most employers value, so gaining extra knowledge in this area will not only benefit your current position or company but your life.
Most startups don’t have the budget and resources to hire a full-time marketing manager. This leads to losing money, time and energy, trying to figure out what to do and how to do it on the go. After all, it’s not an accident that people in marketing spend years in schools and training and are highly sought after. But these days information is at our fingertips, and people who have a genuine interest in marketing, or are trying to kick start their company have the privilege to research the topic, or even enroll for a short course. While this takes more time, and people have to be very careful of what information they find authentic, it’s a path that a lot of people take successfully.
What is a Marketing Strategy?
Your marketing strategy will most likely be your first deeper interaction with the area and will be the backbone of your organization. The phrase “marketing strategy” by definition means a plan of action designed to promote and sell products and services efficiently. It is a structure put together by the founder of the company outlining the current limitations of your company, and what your specific actions will be to make your company more productive over time both financially and otherwise. Companies without a solid marketing strategy usually only lack the understanding of how social media posts, website updates, promotions, and any marketing actions affect the company. All of these small, and huge projects build upon and complete each other, and by utilizing all of these different types of steps, any company can achieve its goals faster in the long run.
Every company working strictly according to a detailed marketing plan has a competitive advantage in their chosen industry. Researching this intricate structure and learning about how these projects can be best utilized can be that extra jolt that makes or breaks your company. Therefore, when trying to self-learn marketing, this is the first step you should take.
The next stepping stone is diving deeper into the world of marketing and learning about different aspects and areas. A big part of this is learning and understanding the practical differences between marketing and advertising. In our everyday lives and vocabulary, these words can seem like synonyms, and people tend not to notice the difference (depending on the context). But most of the time, and especially if you’re leading a company, interchanging the two is a major error.
Simply put, marketing includes all forms of advertising but reaches further. Advertising is solely the act of a company paying to get a message in front of a target audience. It is the only thing a consumer sees, and the last thing a CEO does. Marketing doesn’t only include the act of advertising, but the research and financial planning in the background. This results in the proper “serving” of the ads, the pricing of the products, and takes the competition and the demographic into consideration. It also entails monitoring every project and collecting data afterward.
As consumers, we’re familiar with advertising. Print ads, internet display ads, social media ads, podcast or radio ads, billboard ads, and so on, all belong under the umbrella of advertising. It’s the final product of a marketing strategy, and anything before or after the advertising act belongs to marketing.
The most important thing when it comes to materializing any marketing project is content creation. In today’s digital world the expectations regarding these contents have grown significantly, but thankfully, there are a lot of tools that can be easily used for you to create content quickly and easily. Most companies use three channels for their content:
- Website content to inform and persuade visitors,
- Email content to build relationships, nurture leads, engage with customers, and reach out to new contacts,
- Social media content to engage both new and existing customers.
While this might seem a lot to handle – and it is -, you will see that a well-put-together marketing strategy will go a long way in making your job easier. It will outline what exactly the action is, and when to take it. Knowing when to use each channel, what exactly you need to post, and when will make this task more desirable and less scattered. These public contents can be written statements, blog posts, videos, photos, or quick announcements, and they must be used logically, and regularly. Studies show that customers react better when they know when a specific content will be posted. This can be anything from a weekly Q&A to an annual sale.
Search engine optimization (or SEO) is a vital part of marketing. Google and other search engines are the pillars of the customer research process and experience. If you want to build and maintain the marketing of your own company by yourself, you need to have SEO skills, which can be tricky to master when you have an entire company to run. This can easily be handed over to an IT employee, or a partner, and in the long run, passed on to the marketing manager of the company. SEO in marketing includes utilizing keywords, on-page SEO, building links, and so on. Investing in these skills, whether through a partner or by yourself is a crucial step when it comes to maintaining any company.
Once again, we must circle back to your marketing strategy as the backbone and compass of your company. The marketing strategy is most likely put together as a web of projects spread across a timeline. This means that managing both the projects and the time it takes to finish them is very important. Whether you work alone or with partners and employees doesn’t make much of a difference. At the end of the day, to manage your, and others time effectively, you can learn skills such as:
- Goal setting
- Goal tracking
- Breaking down goals into small sections
- Creating reports
These skills (and many others) will help you and everyone in your company focus on their daily tasks and the bigger picture as well. This improves the chances of reaching short-term and long-term goals quickly and effectively in your business.
When a marketing strategy is turned into action, it is called “marketing execution.” While building your strategy, you chose, prioritized, planned, and researched projects that ultimately will improve your company. By knowing how to implement these theoretical plans, you’ll turn your strategy into real-life actions that will allow you to actually see the fruit of your hard work.
The marketing execution has roughly 4 steps. There are a lot of ways to implement your plans, and you need to choose or create your own path. This action will make sure that everyone on your team knows exactly what is happening, what they need to work on, and why they need to work on it. Having a plan for the execution will benefit the company in the long run, because instead of having to put out fires all the time, and rushing every project, people will know exactly what they need to do, and where to look into the specifics.
- Step 1: Assign team members to each project. Think about what each project needs, how many people it takes to get it done quickly and of high quality, and choose your best people for the task.
- Step 2: Have a creative brief. This should include everyone involved in the marketing strategy and should go over the big picture, and all the smaller tasks. This way everyone will know the ultimate goal, and they’ll know what other jobs are active parallel to their own.
- Step 3: Create a timetable. Just as you did when putting together the marketing strategy, it’s important to give a timeframe to each project as well, and let your employees know about it. This can have a little wiggle room but should be calculated carefully.
- Step 4: Create a marketing calendar. This can be shared, or personal, but a calendar that shows exactly what is happening, when it’s happening, and what real-world tasks need to be done by when (physical or virtual ads for instance) will help you oversee and manage the entire process nicely. You won’t have to keep it all in your head which will ultimately save time and energy on your part. Some people use a checklist instead of a calendar, and others implement a work management software into the mix, but these 4 steps are the bare minimum to start taking action.
Your marketing plan and execution – while framing the entire marketing management of your company – are only puzzle pieces when it comes to the big picture. Content creation, SEO optimization, and many other skills have to be in your repertoire if you want to manage your company by yourself. In the long run, a marketing manager is always a good investment, but even if you have a specialist, it’s better to know all about the structure and purpose of what they’re doing to effectively oversee what’s happening in the company. And the best way to gain knowledge is by getting your hands dirty and diving into these intricate tasks yourself.