You’ve done the work and landed on a shiny new brand strategy. Congratulations! But let’s not shove all that great thinking in some folder, never to be looked at again. You need to activate your brand so you can start growing your business with intention. Which means: you need a marketing strategy. You need to attract the right customers. You need to know what to say to attract them. And you need to know what marketing tactics will work. In other words: you need a marketing strategy.
Marketing Strategy: How to Tell Your Brand Story
What’s a Marketing Strategy? It’s the blueprint for what to convey and the tactics you’ll use to engage your audience and fulfill your brand strategy. Consider that you’ve suddenly got all these brand elements to talk about: attributes, benefits, values, and more. If you randomly shout these out to the Universe, your message will be muddy, your audience confused, and as I like to say: a confused shopper never buys.
Importantly, there’s a sequence to bringing up various parts of your brand at the right time — just like telling a joke, where timing & the punchline is everything. If you do your marketing right, your prospect will quickly go from skeptical to persuaded. So what’s the right sequence? And what approaches are the right ones for your audience?
A Review: the Customer Journey
Before we begin, it’s helpful to review the journey that your customer takes as s/he becomes familiar with your brand. This article details the Customer Journey and the various stages your customers travel as they come to love your brand (unaware > aware > consideration > purchase > loyal). It also highlights what to convey at those particular journey points. It’s a great primer to get your customers to fall in like with you, and I would re-include it here, but since this post can’t be 15 pages long, I *highly* recommend you read it.
Build Your Marketing Strategy
There are steps to take in building out a Marketing Strategy, or communications strategy. They are as follows:
- Identify your business problem. Depending on your business – and the problem(s) that you want your marketing to solve – your communications strategy will vary. If you have great repeat business but want to grow and need more customers, focus on customer acquisition. If you have brand awareness but aren’t closing customers, you’ll need a stronger consideration-to-purchase strategy. Or for those of you who need help with re-engagement: you’ll need to strengthen your retention game. You get the idea. Your plan depends on what you’re trying to solve, so make sure you problem-find correctly the first time.
- Understand your key audience. Whether you want to farm existing customers for additional business or bring in new customers, you need to understand their needs and mindset. This article can help you define your customer profile and get clear about who you are targeting. Missing some information? This article on customer insights can help as well.
- Determine your media channels and marketing tactics. There are numerous marketing tools you can use to reach your audience, as you’ll read about in a minute. Determine what’s right for your customers and your team and choose tactics that work for you both.
- Create a communications schedule. This is super-effective in keeping you on track and making sure you’re consistent with your brand messaging. Your brand is what you do and say consistently, so have a system in place to deliver your brand consistently to your audience.
- Monitor, evaluate and tweak. Constantly monitor your results to understand what’s landing and if you’re moving closer to achieving your goals. If something didn’t work, make a note and better it or swap it out for another tactic.
Once you’ve determined your business problem and your audience, explore media channels and marketing tactics to help reach those customers. As an example, let’s take a look at how you might deploy a marketing strategy to mine existing customers for additional business.
A Marketing Strategy to Mine Existing Customers
If your business problem is new revenue growth, the easiest route to growth is through your existing customer base. Moving a prospect from unaware to purchase is waaaaaaaaaayyyyyy more time and resource-intensive than reaching out to an existing customer who already knows you, has done business with you, appreciates the value you provide, and might not know about another service you provide that could benefit them greatly.
There are many different tactics to use in engaging existing customers. Some effective ones I can recommend include:
- Blog / video posts – Create content that informs, educates or inspires your customers about the other services you additionally provide (“XYZ Services”) that they might not know about. Once you have this content, you can repurpose it effortlessly across other channels, like newsletters, social and the like;
- Newsletters & e-blasts – Your chance to tell your customers about YXZ services in a format that comes directly to their inbox;
- Customer case studies – If you’re known for ABC services, share a customer case study about XYZ services that you also offer so you can show (not tell) how XYZ services can help them succeed (this read can help you do that);
- Testimonials – In their words, how your customers benefit from XYZ services, and what they deeply and disproportionately value about XYZ services;
- SEO / keyword analysis – Get your business ranked on Google and appear in search results for ABC services and XYZ services that you provide;
- Customer feedback – learn directly from the source what your customers need / want and how you can help them;
- Speaking opportunities (including podcasts) – Great opportunities to showcase your expertise and discuss XYZ services while reaching new and existing audiences;
- Social (e.g., LinkedIn or Instagram) – Meet your customers where they are, and share information about XYZ services that you offer in a way that informs, educates and inspires;
- Networking – Meet your customers where they are and build rapport;
- Promotions – Creative ways to help them over the finish line and re-engage you with XYZ services.
There are other tactics, but for most B2B companies looking to drive retention, this is a strong, great start. Revisit what your target audience will be most receptive to and build your plan. Make sure to be realistic about what you and your team can accomplish, since this list is extensive.
A Marketing Strategy to Build Brand Awareness
Let’s look at another comms plan: how to create brand awareness. What marketing tactics can you employ to generate brand awareness? This approach is much harder (and more expensive), because you’re going after new customers who aren’t familiar with your brand. Some options for you to consider include:
- SEO / keyword analysis – Prospects will do a Google search to find out what companies offer services in your sector. You want to make sure your business ranks high on Google so appear prominently in search results for the services you provide;
- Blog / video posts – Once prospects learn about your company, they’ll come to your site. You’ll want to offer them content that informs, educates or inspires them to take action. Particularly in B2B, folks are persuaded by content that showcases expertise and approach;
- Paid Media – Advertising tactics such as Google ad words, ads on social and other means to build awareness of your brand with your target audience;
- Newsletters and e-blasts – Create a separate newsletter for prospects, and then share content that informs & inspires them to learn more about your services in a format that comes directly to their inbox;
- Customer case studies – These are fantastic prospect conversion tools. Case studies are your chance to show, not tell, how your services help solve a customer’s challenge (this read can help you write powerful case studies);
- Testimonials – These are powerful in helping prospects see how satisfied other customers are with your services. They are particularly effective because it’s in a customer’s own words how they benefited from your offering;
- Customer feedback – Reach out to learn from your best customers what they value, so you can communicate those benefits to prospects who value those aspects as well;
- Social (e.g., LinkedIn or Instagram) – Meet your prospects where they are, and share content that informs, educates and inspires – here, you can repurpose many parts of your blog posts;
- Networking – Meet your prospects where they are and build rapport;
- Speaking opportunities (including podcasts) – Great opportunities to showcase your expertise and reach new audiences;
- Conferences & events – Meet your prospects where they are and build rapport;
- Promotions – Creative ways to help them over the finish line and sign up to purchase.
You’ll realize that many of the tools used for retention can also work for acquisition. What’s different is what to convey. You’ll want to change your messaging to be relevant to a prospect. Help them understand your approach and services and the value you provide, and perhaps why you are different from the competition. This content is different from your existing customers who might already be familiar with the value you provide, but they’re not aware of other services you also offer.
Know Yourself… And Your Audience
This >>almost<< goes without saying, but…
You need to be clear what you’re going to upsell your customers and if there’s a clear desire for your additional offering. Spend the time to ensure you can offer what they need and want without overtaxing your resources. Avoid setting your business up for catastrophic success.
(Not sure what they need & want? Skip down to the “Customer Feedback” section of this post)
And study what marketing tactics are right for your audience. Are your customers on LinkedIn? Are they regular attendees at networking events? Do they respond well to newsletters? Then you need to be meeting them where they’re at. If you don’t know what tactics are right for your customers: visit the “Customer Feedback” section.
Finally, doing these marketing initiatives is a sizable task, so determine what’s right for your business and what you / your team can readily deploy. Then build a schedule so you generate content regularly. I’ve said this earlier, but it bears repeating: your brand is what you say and do consistently. Sending out a newsletter 1x / month is better than hitting three tactics in one month and then peace-ing out for the year. Don’t be that brand.
‘Well this all sounds easy,’ you say, ‘but I don’t know what my customers like or need, or if they read newsletters or if they’re on LinkedIn or not! How do I figure that out?’
Easy. Ask them.
I ask my clients to schedule quarterly / semi-annually check-in chats to see how their customers are doing. This is to understand how they’re liking your services, and what you can do to make their lives better / easier / more fabulous. Not only does this garner goodwill for your business; it makes your customers feel seen, engendering loyalty. And in your quick 20-minute chat, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about other issues they might have (that you can possibly help them out with) while asking them how they prefer to learn about your other services.
I’m channeling Yoda for all of you when I tell you: just do it. Don’t argue or half-attempt this. Just do the work.
Customize Your Marketing Strategy
I hope this article has helped you realize there are lots of available tools to accomplish your marketing goals, but first and foremost, you need to have a plan to meet your objectives. You should have some good ideas for how to start drafting your plan. If you need help, we’re pleased to announce that Magnetic Brand Strategy is now also offering communications & marketing services in addition to brand strategy. Reach out and let us help make your brand magnetic to success.
Magnetic Brand Strategy, located in Northern Virginia, serves a global market seeking a methodical approach to branding. Learn more about us.