4 Questions When Building a Marketing Strategy | i8 Blog

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Create a marketing strategy by asking the right questions to get the right leads.

In my experience as a corporate creative, especially with a company where the Sales and Marketing departments are the same, marketing strategies are often an afterthought and undoubtedly second fiddle to Sales needs. 

Our strategy meetings were often at the end of the fourth quarter during the slower holiday season, after departments had already submitted budgets. My fellow team of graphic-designers-turned-marketers would bust out the flip chart to map out our year—with little input from other divisions or departments. Grand schemes of workflow programs and posting schedules that would make things less chaotic would be launched in hopes of escaping the “fire drill” of creating content based on the sales team’s immediate needs. Unfortunately, this “strategic” attempt at marketing would barely last the first quarter. After that, the often-free online marketing planner we implemented would fall flat. We would be back to tight deadlines, inconsistent messaging, and manual operations.

A google search for a trendy marketing planner could not fix the problem or lead us to a strategy system of substance. Our optimistic posting schedule, seasonal sales event plan, and email marketing approach was not a strategy but a coping mechanism. Unfortunately, just as I experienced, in-house marketing teams in the built environment often get bogged down in tactics and systems that merely “check” the marketing box instead of getting to the heart of marketing’s primary job: to generate value by attracting qualified leads and deepening connections with our existing leads and customers.

A great place to start building the framework for a marketing strategy is by asking questions that get to the heart of your business goals. Create structure and define terms and goals by answering these four critical questions:

1. What business objectives does our marketing strategy need to support?

What is the end game? In new home construction, it could be opening a new division in a new market or reaching sales goals. In distribution, it could increase current customer repeat sales. In manufacturing, your objective could be to increase productivity and reduce turnaround time. If your company has not established its 2023 business objective, a marketing strategy has no chance of being successful. Starting with your general business goal and then making it more specific by attaching quantitative goals will allow for measurement and accountability through the year.

For example, if you are a production builder your quantitative goals could be:

  • Reduce build days by five days
  • Reduce warranty tickets by 30%
  • Increase online sales consultant appointments by 15% / month
  • Close 1,000 homes

Now that you know your company’s object for the upcoming year, your marketing strategy should address and support those objectives.

2. How will you measure success or failure?

Marketing is one department where not every action or result is measurable. Where production can say we built 400 homes in 2023, marketing casts a wide net to brand, attract, and close a lead that may have been started three years prior. Before marketing can take credit for a successful sales month—or perhaps the blame for poor performance—a reportable measure of success needs to be determined. You need the right  tech stack and tools in place to execute and report on your measurable results.

This measurement is called KPIs: Key Performance Indicators.

common characteristics of effective KPIs include:

  • They're quantitative, not qualitative, meaning a number can be attributed to them
  • They're pragmatic, not superfluous, meaning they are connected to company processes and standards (not metrics for metrics’ sake)
  • They're focused, not generalized, meaning that they can help assess if performance is improving, stagnant or deteriorating
  • They drive action, meaning they can propel change

Your measurement tool in marketing is often your CRM—Customer Relationship Manager. If you determine your marketing strategy’s success is tied to sales or the number of leads, but your CRM is not implemented or used to the fullest extent possible, you will be unable to measure the success of your efforts. This lack of accuracy and consistency in your data and systems can be  catastrophic. Illumine8 can help you determine the right CRM and system for your industry and help create workflows and automation so you can successfully measure, report, and implement your marketing strategy.  

3. What marketing strategies have been used in the past?

As the success of one year is often compared to the previous year’s, it’s a good idea to evaluate what you’ve already done marketing-wise in programs, strategy, and their results. In other words, it’s time to give your marketing of 2022 an audit to examine your marketing strategy's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats within the context of your customer experience and larger business objectives.

Referenced from I8’s post,  5 Steps to a Better Sales Strategy, your audit should focus on the following areas to obtain a full sense of where your marketing program stands currently and where it needs to go:

  • Is your sales process defined and understood?
  • How does your sales process align with your funnel and your customer behaviors?
  • Are marketing and sales aligned or disconnected?
  • What reporting systems exist and are they communicating and integrated?
  • Are your customer personas defined?
  • Have unique buyers’ journeys been mapped and documented?
  • Is your sales team empowered with the right tools?
  • Do they have access to the content they need for each phase of the buyer’s journey?
  • Are there technology gaps?
  • Is training consistent and effective?

Evaluating what you’ve done, recognizing the gaps, and evaluating what worked or didn’t will give you the information you need to start making marketing strategy decisions. Learn from your mistakes and duplicate what worked. The more information you have to reference, the better.

4. What positioning and messaging will work for your target customer?

Just like your audit to evaluate your past performance, you need to evaluate your customers. Who are they, and how should you interact with them? Invest time and resources in market research to identify your target customer and then consider the messaging and brand positioning that will most successfully resonate.

One way to do this is to examine the data you are (hopefully) already collecting from your sales team and website. This  first-party data will help you build the strongest buyer personas. If you have a CRM, you’ll find your first party there, but you can also find first-party data in other places, such as accounting, project management software, email software, survey apps, and your website analytics. In addition, you can gain additional market research through surveys, focus groups, reviews, and quantitative data such as demographic statistics.

Building customer personas is truly the heart of any marketing strategy’s success. Once you have your buyer personas, you can curate your content and determine the best means and frequency to communicate and interact with your customer. For example from a resident survey, a multifamily complex may find that many of their residents walk to work and also work remotely on Fridays. If their business objective is to retain 90% of current residents, then perhaps they have food truck Fridays by their clubhouse and give out water bottle swag with branding. This example is just a small glimpse of a strategy that will need to be evaluated and measured along the way but you see how a strategy is forming instead of a “check the box” social media post.

Your marketing strategy is your foundation.

We find that businesses in the built environment are just scratching the surface of what their revenue potential can be due to a lack of or a misguided marketing strategy. Whether it’s internal biases, an absence of resources, or simply not knowing, here at Illumine8 we thrive on bring strategic and measurable success to your business. Start your strategy with a  30-Minute Consultation to see how your business can meet and exceed its 2023 objectives. 

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