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Saturday 19 August 2017

7 Key Elements for a Successful (Online) Marketing Strategy

Marketing and Sales strategies seem to be one of the areas that for some reason are one of the weaker areas of a number of early stage businesses that I see (or it may be that having spent a chunk of my career in that space, I’m looking at it more closely and critically). I've also had some requests for more on Digital and Social media marketing in our hub’s pages, so here’s proof that we’re listening..☺ 

For those reasons, I wanted to cover some key areas that we look at as potential investors; both when assessing the (sales) potential of businesses in their chosen markets and that can help any business benchmark themselves against.

There are very many contributors on Social media platforms and the Web supplying great detail on the ever-evolving tactical side of digital marketing generally; content marketing, use of video, on Facebook advertising, on Twitter, Instagram and so on.

But before you flex those creative or presentational muscles, there’s essential groundwork to do; even where there is no digital side at all, these elements really matter.

A comprehensive marketing and sales strategy combines at least these 7 areas

We’ll look again in future at my take on those tactical digital parts within what should be a comprehensive and consultative approach, but for now I want to concentrate on giving you some of the key nuggets behind an overall strategy, despite the difficulty in doing justice to the detail needed. I'll call this the "Seven Stages to the Holy Grail of Marketing"; in other words a congruent, fluent and integrated approach to your sales and marketing from customer outreach to accounts payable.

Let's get started on our seven:

1)   Have you exactly and precisely defined the problem you solve for your demographic; in other words, your niche? Can you precisely describe an avatar for your model customer(s) or your ideal customer?
2)    How do you reach them? What has to happen for them to get into your customer relationship system, list, to see your advert or for you to achieve their awareness as a named entity or associated with a solution to their problem? In other words, where are they present, physically or online, and how do you get to them?
3)    When you reach them, how do you engage with them? This relates to 1): What exactly is their problem? How well do you understand that, in all its practical consequences and myriad detail for them? In other words, you need to be able to precisely define them and describe them to reach them, and that's key, particularly when you want to use very segmented advertising. The tone of the campaign and individual ads have to account for the traffic types you interact with, their current awareness level of the issue and business targeting them, from no clue about the issue and company through to existing customer, fully engaged and aware

4)    Is the product/service you offer something they truly want – you may think you know what they need, but if it’s not bridged from what they want or combined with it, they may not bother to explore further. Some call this the value of benefits or results versus product or service features, followed by ‘social proof’, and testimonials. Are you even selling to the people who own that problem or who care enough to pay money to fix it?

5)    This will sound obvious, but how exactly does your product or business solve that problem for them, or the product ‘fit’ part to the issue and how do you show them that you are solving, or capable of solving, that problem? This is the product architecture part - Is the product or service appropriately structured to address that problem; how and what do you offer them to show that you can help? In other words, how do you monetize the relationship you have built by finding, reaching and engaging?  

6)   Do you have a clear value ladder into which that product fits that's suitable for that customer? If you're looking at, primarily, a high-ticket product, how do you build them into that high-ticket sale – is there a progression of trust through multiple levels before they’re prepared to pay that much and have achieved familiarity with your offering and vision where appropriate? It may not be a digitally- fulfilled product by that point. 

7)      Last and definitely not least, and perhaps the one with the most potential detail, what kind of a sales ‘funnel’ precisely do you have or need? How do customers move through it and what is their total experience through it with your company? You may have established a value ladder of products and pricing points, but how do people move up and down that? How are they sold up to that level? How are they caught on a down sell when they refuse at a level?

You need chapter and verse on this last item. Whether you are selling a digitally-fulfilled product online, whether you are backing it with a sales force, whether you're using direct marketing, or whether you're perhaps selling off a presentational stage at trade shows with an appointment close, all of those previous seven have to be absolutely defined for a successful strategy.

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