You’re sitting in front of your computer, knowing that you need to market your business somehow and get online to look at all the options. Within a few minutes, even though you have a basic understanding about some of the options out there, you’re overwhelmed.
There are so many marketing options out there. Email marketing. Influencer marketing. Attending local events. Referral programs. Reward programs. Social media. PPC. All the different types of PPC.
And not only will you need to choose which platforms that you want to use when defining your marketing mix, you’ll need to decide how, how often and how much ad spend to invest in it.
You’ll make all these of these decisions during the marketing process, which is a complex and often evolving process that will help you decide exactly how you’re going to reach your audience and with what messaging. In this post, we’re going to take you step by step through the marketing process so you can put your new strategies in place and evaluate the ones you already have.
What is the Marketing Process?
The marketing process is the process of evaluating the marketing opportunities available to you, deciding how which would be best suited to your audience, goals and budget and then executing, evaluating and (if needed) troubleshooting your campaigns.
It’s worth pointing out that the marketing process isn’t just a one-and-done type of thing. Instead, marketing is ongoing and evolving. New technologies roll out constantly, and you’ll also get new insights about the campaigns you already have running that will shape what you do next.
Because of this, the process doesn’t just happen once and stop when the campaigns have started. The marketing process is an on-going thing, like taking care of a pet.
It doesn’t matter if I walked my dog twice as long as normal yesterday. She’s half-aussie, half-Saint Bernard, and if I don’t walk her today, she will still become destructive and destroy every toy (and maybe a few pillows) in the house. You need to look at your marketing process the same way.
The 5 Steps of the Marketing Process
Ready to dive in? We’re going to go over the 5 distinct steps in the marketing process, with the assumption that you already have a product, service and brand in place and are now deciding how best to market them.
1. Defining Your Goals
What do you want to get out of your marketing campaigns? This is the first question you should answer in the marketing process.
Be specific. Most business’s goals long term are “get more customers and make more money,” possibly with a “retire early” thrown in there somewhere. But how do you want to get more customers and make more money?
Better answers to these questions could be:
- Increase the average order value to increase profit
- Attract new, qualified leads that are most likely to turn into high-value, long-term clients
- Establish brand awareness and brand recognition to cement my place in the industry and raise my own perceived value
You can have multiple goals for your campaigns, but you’ll want to remember that each goal should be accomplished with separate campaigns. Going for too much overlap will muddy the waters and just confuse everyone involved, including your customers and you.
2. Understand Your Audience
Different audiences are going to respond to campaigns in different ways, so they should shape how you proceed.
Someone is more likely to search for an emergency plumber on Google and find a result through PPC or SEO than they are to see an ad on Facebook and think “huh, yeah, I could use that service about now” as they’re ankle-deep in flooded sink water.
Similarly, you can expect a teenager to respond warmly to an ad on Snapchat. My father doesn’t even know what Snapchat is.
Understanding your target market and your specific market segmentation will be crucial here. If you have multiple audience segments (which you almost definitely do), you’ll want to take each into consideration and create campaigns for each.
Look at what your audience needs, and how your solution can deliver. Pain points and value propositions for each audience segment should be carefully considered.
3. Market Research
You’ve got an idea of where your audience is most likely to be and what goals you want to accomplish. Now it’s time to do some market research. This involves several steps.
First, you’ll want to see what your competition is doing. See what offers they’re running, what platforms they’re using and even what keywords they’re targeting for both organic and PPC campaigns. How can you do something that’s either different enough to stand out or superior them to beat their offer outright?
You’ll also want to review all of your possible marketing avenues. A little time spent researching here is invaluable. Maybe you’ll discover new strategies for how to use your blog to get more leads instead of just brand awareness, find out about Facebook’s lead generation ads for the first time or how to better use email marketing to nurture lads.
This stage is particularly research heavy and it can feel a little overwhelming. Compile the data into spread sheets or bullet points if necessary, because you want to get a big picture view of all your options. It will be what helps you best find the ideal marketing mix.
4. Develop Your Marketing Mix
Ah, the marketing mix. This is the stage where you actually decide which platforms and strategies you’ll use to meet your goals and connect with your target audience.
During this stage, you’ll need to make decisions about:
- Which platforms you want to use
- The strategies you want to use on each platform
- How you’re going to measure campaign effectiveness and which KPIs you’ll be watching
- How much ad spend and time you’ll devote to each platform
- The number of individual campaigns you want to run at once.
This can feel overwhelming, but once you start mapping things out, it gets a lot easier.
Remember to be specific at each stage. It typically helps to start with a total marketing budget and then decide how to allocate it across paid channels and services. Content marketing, after all, is free except for the time to invest in it, until you hire designers for blog images or writers or editors to help beef up the content.
5. Execute, Manage and Review
This is the stage of the process where you actually put that marketing mix in place and start running your campaigns. Be consistent and manage them closely. Watch out for signs that the campaigns aren’t working and if they aren’t delivering acceptable results, do some troubleshooting to try to figure out why.
For example, if you’re getting a lot of clicks on your ad, but everyone is dropping off on your landing page, ask yourself why. It means that the ad itself was good, but you were either targeting the wrong audience (including possibly an audience that’s too cold), or the landing page was too weak to cover them. Adjust your campaigns, re-allocate ad spend and adapt as necessary.
In addition to reviewing your campaigns regularly, you’ll also want to go back through the process overall at regular intervals to make sure that your marketing mix is still the best one for you.
By the time six months has gone by, after all, there’s a good chance that there’s four new Facebook Ad features, some new SEO best practices and a cool new tool that will change your life (and your marketing) in some way have come out.
Your budget may have also changed. Maybe all that marketing worked so well that you can now spend twice as much on ads or hire a professional agency to take over the ads for you.
Your competitors will also inevitably switch things up, so knowing what they’re doing and adapting to it will be important to staying on top, too.
As much as you might wish it wasn’t the case, marketing is a complex and evolving process and it should be treated like one. You’re investing so much time and money into a single platform, after all, why wouldn’t you want to make sure that this platform and those strategies are going to yield the biggest possible return?
The growth and health of your business is literally at stake when it comes to the long-term effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, so there’s not a lot of time for taking a few shots in the dark with nothing to back them up.
What do you think? What does your marketing process look like? Are any of your steps in a different order? Share your thoughts and experience in the comments below!