Strategy drives almost everything we do. Without a plan, how can we be successful? How do we measure success? If we go through life by just "winging it," there are bound to be some fun moments, but we can never really measure our execution against the strategy. So whether you're planning to spring clean your home, coach your kid's basketball team, or figure out how to have your most profitable business year ever, the one thing they all have in common is the fact that you need a strategy.
Speaking with revenue and growth leaders, I often hear about their broad-stroke strategies — "The marketing team is going to write more content, spend more on ads, work on SEO and make some UX improvements to the site. From there, the sales team is going to make more calls, send more emails and connect more on LinkedIn."
Boom, now we just sit back and watch the money pour in, right?
If it were actually that simple, and you didn't have to read the rest of this article, I think we'd both be happy. However, we all know that business is never that simple. Creating a detailed and extensive strategy for both marketing and sales, and then aligning both strategies is never that easy. So without any more delay, here are a few recommendations to keep in mind while creating your growth strategy.
Look Back Before You Move Forward
One of the most common pain points I hear is around a lack of time — "We have short-term goals that we must hit. That's why we are hiring an agency." Then there is the expectation that we can just wave a magic wand and the campaigns will bring in the perfect leads.
In many cases, it feels counterintuitive to take a step back before moving forward. That said, when it comes to growth, looking at your previous marketing efforts to know what worked well for your company and what didn't is crucial. There's no point in throwing time, energy, resources, and money toward a strategy that simply will not work. You aren't able to pivot if you don't know what was previously done. I recommend performing an audit of your current and past inbound marketing initiatives to determine the best strategies for your growth.
Develop Target Buyer Personas
It's very easy to be generic with your target personas. "Our target is manufacturing companies" or "I sell to CTOs of tech companies."
However, being this vague doesn't allow you to really target these individuals in a meaningful and intentional manner. How can you determine where your target buyer personas spend their time, how they consume and interact with your content, their preferred contact method, or how they are influenced? The list goes on. Dive deep into your target buyer personas and make them as specific as possible to give your sales and marketing teams the best opportunity to actually connect and convert your target customers.
ANALYZE YOUR COMPETITION
Unfortunately, we all have competitors(it would be a lot cooler if we didn't!). Fortunately, you can gain a ton of insight from your competitors. Looking at what they do well from a marketing standpoint and, maybe even more importantly, what they don't do well can help guide your strategy and propel your business forward. Start with some basics and take a look at their website. Examine things like:
- user experience
- website copy
- downloadable content
- blog posts
From there, check out their social media presence. See how frequently they post. Are they getting good engagement? If yes, why? If not, why? Run some keyword research to see what they rank for and what they don't. Finding good keywords they may have missed will give you some low-hanging fruit to start ranking for. This type of competitive analysis can give you ideas to boost your marketing and surpass them in critical areas lacking in their marketing strategy.
PERFORM A TECH STACK AUDIT
Tech stacks are a great place to look for wasted money and missed opportunities. If you're anything like us, you've bought software that seemed great at the time, but months or even years down the road, you're looking back and not seeing the results you once thought you would. At that point, check your billing terms. See if you have the ability to cancel immediately. If not, create a calendar invite for a few days before your next billing cycle to ensure you don't get trapped in yet another contract cycle.
Be patient if you want to add more software to your stack. Determine what is absolutely necessary. If you can wait, push your buying out until the last week of the month or, better yet, the end of a quarter. It's no secret that salespeople work on quota, and you are more likely to get a deal at the end of the month/quarter than you otherwise would.
[Expert Tip] Your HubSpot CRM is your most valuable software investment. We recommend having someone who is a HubSpot expert do an evaluation of your HubSpot software stack to ensure you are getting the most out of your investment. You only know what you know.
CREATE A CONTENT CALENDAR
Here's a great place for collaboration between sales and marketing. Before creating a content calendar, make sure you understand your sales cycle. Do you target different personas during various times of the year? Is there collateral for products or services that your sales team needs? Is there something you want to promote at certain times of the year on social, website, email, landing pages, etc.? Knowing what type of content your sales team needs and when they need it will help complete your content marketing strategy. This enables you to create priorities and allows you to build out the calendar properly.
From there, and I cannot stress this enough, ensure you have the bandwidth to deliver on that calendar by assigning tasks to individuals.
Additionally, be flexible, and know that things are going to change. Be agile as you track content data and let that inform your decisions throughout the year.
DEVELOP GOALS & UNDERSTAND THE POTENTIAL CHALLENGES
First and foremost, make sure you are setting realistic, measurable, and attainable goals. From there, know there will be challenges to overcome to reach those goals. There's a bevy of factors that will play into you reaching your goals, so plan ahead to get in front of them. See how you can best keep a pulse on the competitive landscape, the financial situation of your target market, new advancements in your industry, etc.
Need help creating your marketing strategy? Our GrowthPlan is a great way to get an outside, expert view of current scenarios in addition to ideas on moving the needle forward.