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8 Steps to Developing an Effective Marketing Strategy

December 5, 2018By Alyssa Wick

Topics: Marketing Strategy

An effective marketing strategy is a direct result of quality planningAttracting, Converting, Closing, and Delighting customers is no simple task. There are more options and channels than ever before. Businesses that do not develop a high caliber plan end up firing at a high caliber target with a low caliber bullet. Planning allows precision.

We know you’ve got a lot on your plate -- between keyword research, marketing costs, timeline development, and buyer persona research -- it can be tough to figure out how or when to do your marketing. To make things easier, we’ve broken down exactly how to develop an effective marketing strategy in 8 simple steps:

  1. Define your Goals and Objective

  2. Define your Buyer Persona

  3. Review Existing Strategy and Data

  4. Audit Relevant Competitors

  5. Perform Keyword Research and Media Cost Analysis

  6. Determine your Campaigns

  7. Define the Timeline

  8. Define Campaign-Specific Strategies & Production

Step 1: Define Your Goals and Objectives

Start your strategy development at a higher level.  Don’t delve into the details of the offer and messaging just yet, instead focus on specific business objectives you’d like to achieve throughout the year - whether it be monetary growth, brand strengthening, or other value-driven goals like lead generation.


When all is said and done, where do you want your organization to be? What do you want to achieve? Think BIG -- the objective is your desired end-state that aligns your marketing strategy to your goals.


Define success and determine a way to measure it.  Are there a certain number of sales that must be made every quarter, or a percent increase in website traffic by a certain date to signify expansion of brand awareness? Setting clear, relevant goals will keep you on track to achieve your ultimate objective (keep in mind, these should be SMART goals).

If your goals and objectives feel unclear to you at the moment, this tool can help you define them.

Step 2: Define Your Business Profile and Buyer Persona

The next step in defining your marketing strategy is to ensure that you understand exactly who your audience is. Understanding who you are targeting will help you craft the right communication at the right time within the right channel in order to achieve your business goals.

B2B businesses should start with a business profile, which identifies criteria about your ideal buyer that makes them a good fit for your offering. You can think of these details as direct qualifying characteristics. A business profile should include things such as:

  • Business size (revenue, employees, locations…)

  • Industry

  • Geographic location

The next thing to develop is a Buyer Persona -- a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on real data about customer demographics, behaviors, motivations, and goals. This will help highlight buying patterns within a business profile. When defining for a buyer persona, be sure to:

  • Include their role, and responsibilities within that role

  • Identify where they go for content (social, email, publications, etc.)

  • Outline their pain-points and how would they benefit from your solution

  • Include a full depiction of the buyer’s journey

Note: A helpful guide you can use for getting your buyer persona on paper is HubSpot’s Buyer Persona Tool.

Step 3: Review Existing Strategy and Data

It’s important to analyze your current efforts, strengths and shortcomings. Only when you understand how effective your current marketing efforts are will you be able to properly plan future optimizations that will help you achieve your goals and objective. Ask these questions when performing this analysis:

  • What is working and what is not?

  • Where are there optimization opportunities? (improved conversion opportunities, improved search ranking opportunities, unanswered questions/content gaps, high traffic with form submissions, etc.)

  • What trends exist in the data that help you identify areas for improvement? (email topics/subject lines, high performing channel, etc.) 

Step 4: Audit Relevant Competitors

Review the web presence and marketing efforts of your direct competitors.

  • What are they doing differently than you? Similarly?

  • What differentiates your business model compared to them?

  • What results (that you can see) are they getting in comparison to you with the tactics they are using?

Evaluating your competition helps you identify areas for improvement and any opportunities that may exist.

Step 5: Content, Keyword Research and Media Channels

Content provides value to your prospects, and helps educate them about their problems and the solutions that are available to them. The most valuable content will help nurture leads through the buyer’s journeyThe key is to focus on the right content keywords and media costs. To do this successfully:

  • Understand exactly what your persona is searching for online in relation to their pain-points and your product offerings.

  • Understand the user intent behind those search queries, and the value of them (such as which search queries are made by prospects further into the funnel).

  • Research how topics relate to one another, as well as the 3 stages of the buyer’s journey to create topic clusters (HubSpot provides a Content Strategy Tool where you can Build Topic Clusters).

  • Understand which search queries share the same or similar user intent.

  • Familiarize yourself with the average costs associated to keywords (to effectively allocate a budget for your paid search campaign).

  • Understand what content currently ranks for the same keywords you are bidding on, and what it would take to make your content more valuable and relevant to users than those ranking content pieces.

Note: To help with content ideas, here is a blog that defines 7 types for the Consideration Stage of the buyer's journey. At the end of this, you will have identified which content pieces need to be developed and which channels will you distribute it to your buyer personas.

Step 6: Determine the Campaigns

First off, what is a campaign? We define it as a concentrated effort that aligns all of your marketing channels around a single offering and goal.

This step involves determining which campaigns to focus on throughout the year. To determine this, start by answering these questions:

  • How many offerings do you have, and how do they relate?

  • Which offerings should you concentrate on the most, and which ones are complimentary?

  • How many different campaigns can you logistically and financially support?

 Different campaigns may be focused on different things, for example:

  • A specific service or product

  • A promotional offer

  • A specific service or product differentiator/benefit

  • A branded message

  • Demographics (targeting characteristics of a particular age/gender etc.)

  • Buyer personas

Make sure these campaigns align with your goals, and ultimately support your objective! 

Step 7: Define the Timeline

Campaigns should be planned for the entire year, including production, rollout, and optimization periods.


The production phase is the period of time that you spend developing the content and other assets that will be published, distributed or leveraged, whether internally or externally, as part of a planned campaign.


The rollout phase is the period of time that your scheduled marketing elements of a campaign go live. It’s when your target audience starts seeing your ads, receiving your emails, and consuming your content. 


The optimization phase is the period of time that you review collected data from the campaign performance per tactic, propose revisions to improve performance, and implement the changes. These optimizations can be with the assets themselves, the distribution techniques or targeting techniques. Based on buyer persona insights and in-depth knowledge of marketing platforms and techniques.

In order to avoid any spurious conclusions, make sure to take into account all variables when analyzing your results and comparing them to your hypothesis.

Campaigns should run for 3 months, at a minimum. Typically campaigns with a shorter time period revolve around a sale or time-sensitive promotion.

Often times, campaigns include content that is evergreen and is able to be live and/or be promoted with no end-date. In these cases, future production for active promoting would include optimization of the content.

This step should start by pinpointing the most ideal time campaigns should be activated. Once this time frame has been determined, ensure that you are building in the production phase appropriately before the campaign launch date for each. Lastly, schedule in the optimization phase for each campaign, ensuring you dedicate time to analyzing and optimizing the campaign.

We call that motion marketing here at Trailblaze, as the review, analyze, and optimize process is critical to our client's success.

Step 8: Define the Campaign-Specific Strategies, Tactics, and Production

Now that you have your higher-level strategy planned out, it’s time to drill down the specific strategy details and elements for your first campaign. Utilize the production phase of your timeline wisely to ensure you launch on schedule and have a substantial time frame of data being collected that will be crucial during the optimization phase.

Strategy development and execution can seem daunting, but it is imperative when developing a plan that keeps your marketing efforts in motion and in alignment with your sales activity. If one phase is delayed or unclear, it will affect everything that follows. The best advice I have for you is to break it out into focused phases, as described above, and stay committed to the plan!

Feel overwhelmed or excited to get going? Well we are here to assist you to develop your campaigns or point you in the right direction as one of our consultants -- let's get started!

Looking to leverage results-driven digital marketing for your business? Contact us today and let's get started!

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