Are you “doing” a lot in your marketing? You’ve got a free gift that you give away on a landing page or maybe you’re running Facebook ads to grow your email list. Perhaps you’ve got a webinar or Facebook lives that you are tackling. Could you be considering starting with video, or have you decided that a podcast is right for you?
Of course, you’ve also got a blog and you post, and then there are the emails you sent to your list. Then someone mentioned LinkedIn, and you thought, wow, that would be really good, so you jumped in to create leads using LinkedIn.
It’s true, there is a LOT to do to engage your audience and grow your business!
My question is this: Is what you’re doing getting the results you really need? Do you know? or are you afraid to stop because if you do it might adversely affect your growth and sales (like you think it’s working, you just don’t know which part(s)?)
A common problem that many small businesses and entrepreneurs face is that they confuse marketing tactics (all the doing) with marketing strategies.
Now, if your brain returned a 404 error while trying to process that last sentence, then you probably fall into this boat.
And if you thought, well I have a ‘social media strategy’ so I’m fine! – chances are you are not.
Channels, Tactics, and Strategies
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Podcasts, LinkedIn or Google Ads are just marketing channels. They are mediums that you can use to get your message in front of people. You should think of them as tools in your marketing toolkit. They play a role in the flow of your marketing — but often times we get swallowed up in a channel tactic without seeing the big picture.
There are the different tactics you can apply when using each channel such as prospecting, influencer outreach, affiliate partnerships, promotional calendars, community building, paid advertising, interest-based targeting, geographic targeting, and more.
It’s important to note the use of the term ‘tactic’ here, because many people tend to classify these different approaches as strategies – when in fact they are not.
A real strategy is more than just ticking a box, throwing some things out there and saying the job is done. Strategy is the thinking that ties together everything you do.
What Defines a Channel Strategy?
A channel strategy is a well thought out long-term plan for a particular channel.
The best strategies use real business metrics such as leads or purchases as their ultimate goal and not vanity measures such as ‘clicks’, ‘likes’ or ‘followers’.
By aligning your strategy with the things that matter and making sure you are set up correctly to measure them, you will know whether your marketing approach is working or needs adjustment.
A channel strategy usually includes more than one channel tactic and outlines how these different tactics will be combined to support each other. It might even touch on how a specific channel strategy might feed or influence other channels.
You should have a strategy for each channel you use such as Linked-In, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google Ads, Search Engine Optimization, networking, cold-outreach, email, and your website.
This doesn’t need to be a scary long strategy document. It can be just a few lines on a page which explain your approach stating the following:
- Who will you target?
- How will you target them?
- What content you will provide?
- How will you capture their contact information?
- Are there peaks in activity? Or is this channel always active?
- How will we leverage participation or response from this channel?The point is you need to do the proper planning and think things through. Once you have done this you can then take a higher view of your Big Picture – the overall marketing strategy.
The Big Picture
The most important strategy of all is your Marketing Strategy, that’s the one which looks at the big picture of everything you do across all your different marketing channels.
It’s the one that aims to get you from your current situation to the desired position – the ultimate goal.
Once you understand your big picture, you will clearly see which channels and tactics are most relevant to you and should be pursued.
It will help you narrow your focus on what is important, and help you understand what is needed to move the needle in your business. What is it that will have you stand out, reach and engage your perfect potential customer, and generate the sales you need.
Creating a blueprint for your big picture strategy can be a challenge for most people. It forces you to ask questions like:
- What is the ultimate goal which will flow through to all other levels of my marketing?
- Who do I NOT want to sell to – and won’t waste my time on?
- What does my ideal customer actually want – as opposed to what do I want to sell them?
- What does my customer’s journey look like from start to finish?
- How can I efficiently and effectively address their needs at each stage from first awareness to purchase?
- What systems, tactics, and technologies can I use to tie all this together?
This is where the pay-off is. Otherwise, your tactics and channel strategies may end up being a lot of doing, rather than a lot of achieving. But it’s not easy to achieve if you don’t also have a foundation that supports your marketing strategy.
Laying the Correct Foundation
While on the face of it the questions above might sound simple, they are the hardest for most people to nail down.
Sometimes it’s because you lack enough knowledge to make the right decisions. Other times you second guess your decisions and this lack of confidence dilutes your focus. Other times, you are so consumed with the individual bits and pieces you can’t take a step back and actually take in the big picture.
Marketing, in this case, has become a to-do list rather than a choreographed whole that guides your perfect potential customer to a better place – building relationships and trust all along their journey as they become your customer.
This inability to properly define the big picture strategy results in a weak foundation for any marketing you do.
The symptoms of weak foundations include not having enough time to do everything, constantly running over budget, not making positive returns on investment, and not being able to measure what’s working.