As a business and marketing consultant, it probably comes as no surprise that most of my clients are in the market for killer strategic guidance – especially those who are new to the eCommerce world.
I did a little “reverse-engineering” and found that most of the time, I help my clients adapt a simple two-phase marketing strategy to work for their unique business and goals. This strategy is what I’ll be sharing with you on the blog today, in great detail — so if you’ve been looking for a way to streamline your marketing efforts, plug the holes in your existing strategy, create a clear plan of action when things aren’t working, and adapt to an ever-changing digital marketing landscape…you’re in the right place!
However, before we dive into the nitty-gritty strategic details, let’s do a quick review of the basics.
What is a marketing strategy, anyways?
A marketing strategy sounds complicated, the actual premise of “what is is” remains simple: the approach your business uses to attract customers. A strong marketing strategy will consist of multiple tactics (like organic and paid marketing) and occur across multiple marketing “channels” such as email, SMS, social media, and more!
Without a marketing strategy on your side, you may find that your attempts to attract and convert customers aren’t working as well as you initially hoped. This is why it’s SO important to have a cohesive plan in place that will help you reach your goals.
The two phase strategy
The strategy I’ll be sharing with you today is broken into two distinct phases. Phase I is about doing the ‘internal’ marketing work, like building a great website, discovering your deeper “why”, determining product-market fit, and finalising who your target audience is and what their needs are. In Phase II, you’ll start focusing on the front-facing side of marketing by actively building relationships, gaining trust with your audience, and utilising different forms of paid and organic marketing to increase visibility and drive sales.
Let’s go ahead and dive into Phase I!
Phase I Breakdown
In Phase I, you’ll be completing the following internal marketing exercises:
Building a winning website
Defining your product-market fit
- Determining who your target audience is and conducting research to understand them on a deeper level
This foundational work will set the stage for what we cover in Phase II, so you don’t want to skip it!
Building a winning website
Your website is like your brand’s “home base.” It’s an easy way for your target audience to learn more about what you have to offer and deeper engage with your business as a result, whether that means signing up for your email list, making a purchase, or simply taking the time to browse. These are ALL actions that aid in warming up your audience so that you always have interested buyers on the horizon. So, it goes without saying that your website should be one of the first things you focus on in your marketing strategy.
Before jumping headfirst into the creation process or outsourcing it to a pro, you’ll want to consider details like website quality, user experience, checkout functionality, product information, design, and website photos. These “little things” add up in a big way when you consider how your website informs your audience’s decision-making process.
The good news about building your website is that there are SO many resources available to help you get started in a way that will set you for success in the long-term. If you want to DIY it, platforms like Shopify and Squarespace make it possible to have a fully functioning website up and running in a matter of days, or even hours, depending on your technical prowess. If tech and web design isn’t your thing, you can always outsource it to a professional for a website that is 100% optimised to your brand in every way. And finally, you can mix and match both by hiring project-specific service providers (such as copywriters) to help you in areas that aren’t your zone of genius while you focus on the parts you want to contribute to.
Defining your product-market fit
One of the major things you need to consider as a brand owner is how you problem-solve for members of your target audience. You’ll need to communicate this information very clearly on your website, so it’s essential to have an internal understanding of what problem the products or services you are selling solve and how they solve that problem. Here are a few questions to reflect on as you begin to craft the messaging behind your product-market fit:
WHY do the products you sell exist?
What problem do each of your products solve? Why is this a problem for your target audience and how does your product solve it?
- Why should somebody buy from you over a competitor? What sets your product apart?
Having clear answers to each of these questions will make writing the copy for your website (including your home page, product pages, and landing pages) so much easier, as well as any content marketing you’ll do for your products.
Determining who your target audience is and conducting research to understand them on a deeper level
Your website and marketing materials will be a huge source of help to you as you begin to spread the word about your products — but there’s no changing the fact that marketing to the wrong audience (or worse, to too broad of an audience) is a surefire way to slow your growth.
Your products should serve a clear and specific purpose for a targeted audience, hence the term target audience. While you may already have an idea of who this audience is made up of, it’s always a good idea to add real research into the mix to ensure you TRULY know and understand the demographic you aim to serve. This practice also helps uncover any misalignment in your target audience, so you can refine your marketing efforts to actually speak to the right people.
There are two kinds of research you’ll want to utilise: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative research will help you uncover who your target audience really is, while qualitative research will give you more insight and understanding into how you can reach them.
Quantitative research methods:
Qualitative research methods:
And that’s Phase I! Completing all of the above action steps definitely won’t happen overnight, so don’t stress yourself out if this process ends up taking weeks or even months. What matters the most is your commitment, consistency, and willingness to continue doing the work as your business grows.
With that being said, let’s take a look at Phase II.
Phase II Breakdown
In Phase II, you’ll be shifting your focus to bringing in new customers and retaining them, so they continue to buy over time. Here’s what this will look like step-by-step:
Concentrating on organic vs. paid methods
Finding the right online channels and start making your brand known
Creating high-value marketing content
Crafting enticing email marketing campaigns
- Building a loyalty program
Concentrate on organic vs. paid methods
Now that it’s time to start actually marketing your business, you may feel compelled to go out and pour your budget into paid advertisements. However, this isn’t the most effective way to get started — and it can actually hurt your wallet in the long run if you don’t achieve your desired outcome.
What you should be doing instead is exerting your time and energy into organic (non-paid) marketing efforts. The best way to go about this is simple: spread the word in any way that you can. Introduce your product on social media, promote it in Facebook groups, contact your friends and family — word of mouth marketing is unrivaled when it comes to landing your first few hundred sales.
Once your organic marketing efforts have gained some momentum, you can add paid advertising into the mix. But be warned, this doesn’t mean you should stop your organic strategy altogether. Paid and organic marketing work in tandem, so the best way to get a true ROI (time and money-wise) is to utilise both forms while understanding that the trust and authenticity you build through organic marketing can’t be bought.
Find the right online channels and start making your brand known
Where is your target audience hanging out? The answer to this question dictates where exactly you’ll be focusing your marketing efforts, in addition to your business model and the types of products you sell. You’ll want to consider:
- Social media platforms — including Facebook groups, Instagram, and TikTok
Once you have an idea of WHERE your customers are spending their time online (if you aren’t sure, go back to the quantitative research methods from Phase I and ask them!), you can start to build your brand presence and create hype around your products on said platform(s).
For more information on how to approach choosing the right marketing channels for your business, check out this blog post on the topic that goes into more detail.
Create high-value marketing content
Your content is the ‘heart’ of your entire marketing operation — also known as the assets that your potential customers will be engaging with via your website, social media platforms, emails, and so on.
‘High-value’ content should add value to somebody’s day, whether in a way that’s educational, entertaining, inspiring, or simply makes them smile.
The easiest way to approach content marketing is to think about what will start an engaging conversation amongst the people in your community. How can you get them talking about your product or marketing materials in a way that will spark deeper interest from those around them?
Click here to learn more about my favorite content creation strategy if you want a step-by-step on how to start building trust and creating momentum through your content.
Craft enticing email marketing campaigns
Email marketing may not be the first tactic you turn to as it does take time to build up your list, but it should absolutely be something you incorporate into your overall strategy as you start to grow and build a customer base. This is because email is a proven way to not only nurture your existing audience of warm leads and past buyers, but to actually retain your customers, too.
To use email marketing as a nurture tool, you’re going to want to prioritise sending out a consistent stream of high-value emails over a long period of time. This could look like educating on your products (such as the production process or benefits) and brand story or sharing social proof and user-generated content.
To use email marketing as a customer retention tool, you’ll want to put together a post-purchase email flow. This is your opportunity to provide a coupon code or discount for a future purchase, ask for feedback and reviews, and acquire user-generated content.
Building a loyalty program
The final piece in the puzzle that can really solidify your customer retention efforts is implementing a loyalty or rewards program into your strategy. This allows you to incentivise purchases by providing some sort of exciting “reward” in return — such as a discount or points that can be used towards a future purchase.
These programs “gamify” shopping and encourage your customers to remain loyal as your company expands. It’s a win-win for both parties.
I hope you found this two-phase marketing strategy helpful, but remember, there’s no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ marketing plan. While you can absolutely adapt this plan to fit your own business and still see big success, the only surefire way to create a marketing plan that you KNOW will work for your product, your target audience, and your goals is to work alongside an expert to develop a bespoke plan. I offer this service via my strategy intensives, so be sure to click here to learn more if you’re interested in having a high-level business + marketing consultant advise on your marketing strategy!