Our Key Terms for the Modern Marketer series defines words every marketer should have in their vocabulary. As relevant terms change and buzzwords are redefined, we offer up the most current definitions so you can maintain your modern marketer status.
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A marketing strategy is the process or model that allows an organization to focus their resources on the best opportunities to increase sales and thereby achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. Having a marketing strategy in place means developing a process that sets you up to succeed every step of the way. It also means having plans in place to deal with both expected and unexpected issues as they arise.
Agile strategy is iterative. It’s data driven and customer focused. Strategic campaigns are carried out as short sprints spanning a couple weeks to a couple months. Each sprint begins with a planning session that loops in all the key stakeholders, from product owners to sales to marketing to vendors. The campaigns themselves are flexible, allowing for adjustments and adaptation as customer feedback and data help us refine our approach to optimize results.
Marketers build strategic campaigns to promote their brand, products, or services. Campaigns consist of a series of unified marketing collateral (email, landing page, social posts, etc.), with similar messaging. Campaigns and all of their parts work toward accomplishing a single goal (e.g., grow leads, raise awareness), typically running in a limited timeframe and refreshing when new products or services are released, or new goals are formulated.
Data is information gathered. It’s the foundation of analytics. Data in marketing is the information you collect from users and their actions. Data is an integral part of developing a marketing strategy, because it informs the brand insights that power your marketing. Data used in developing a marketing strategy may include (but is not limited to) site traffic, engagement on a social post, or keyword rankings.
Individuals or groups on the outside of a brand who are affected by the organization, product, or service—customers, students, partners, etc. Arguably, external stakeholders wield the most influence on the long-term success of a marketing campaign.
A visual representation or a logical flow of your marketing plan. It contains several components that work together as a whole to bring your marketing vision to life. A framework is necessary to ensure your strategy stays within budget, on track, and on time.
Marketers set analytical goals to serve as benchmarks for data. Goals should be “S.M.A.R.T.” (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely). Marketers can set general goals using their own methods or they can set goals within analytics programs. The benefit of setting goals within an analytics program like Google Analytics, is that specific data is measured in relation to the goal, so marketers can see how the real data compares to their goal without doing any additional work after setup.
Insights are the conclusions you draw from analytics. They may address your audience, your industry, your brand. Insights are used to inform your marketing. Common insights include which channels draw the most leads, which website pages attract the most visitors, which email format audiences prefer, or which path to conversion is most successful. Marketers track specific data in an effort to gain a desired set of insights.
Individuals or groups inside an organization who are invested in the outcome of a campaign or strategy. Internal stakeholders can help define goals and narrow in on strategies, tactics, messaging, and more. While these pieces may be meaningful to the internal stakeholders, they should be verified with an external audience through external stakeholder interviews.
KPI stands for key performance indicators. A key performance indicator is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. After a strategy is implemented, you can use KPIs to evaluate your success at reaching agreed-upon targets.
The goal of the long-term marketing strategy is to build. Building your brand, building your business, and building customer relationships. Long term strategy is about envisioning what you want for your brand in three to five years and creating a roadmap to get there.
Your marketing strategy should incorporate a methodology that aligns with your company’s values and vision. A sound methodology provides the foundation for product planning and marketing, and ultimately drives the marketing communications process and plan.
Different from goals, in that goals provide a broader primary outcome. A strategy is the approach you take to achieve a goal, whereas an objective is a measurable step you take in order to achieve a strategy. Clarifying your objectives early on in the strategic process will result in a more successful long-term strategy.
Personas are detailed, hypothetical profiles of the different audience members you hope to reach with your content. When developing a marketing strategy, it is important to always keep your personas in mind. What is the audience member looking for? Which of their needs does your organization meet? On average, the marketing team should strive to create two to three personas, each including a name, a detailed description addressing demographics, psychographics, lifestyle, and oftentimes, even a photo.
The process of defining a strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating resources to pursue this strategy. A plan helps ensure everyone on your team is on the same page, and is working toward a common vision. With a solid plan in place, if someone isn’t meeting goals or expectations, you can easily determine how to get them back on track.
Having a process in place will ensure consistent, measurable, and successful results time and time again. When establishing your process, consider asking yourself: Where are we, and what do we have to work with? These questions will help you determine your capabilities, and ultimately your strategic process. Sticking to the process throughout the implementation of your marketing strategy will yield big results.
Seasonality can affect—or determine—your marketing strategy. For example, your strategy may be to increase promotional offers shortly before the holiday season to ensure your brand is top-of-mind when consumers go Black Friday shopping. Or, at the start of a new school year, your strategy may include a focus on back-to-school prep, providing students digestible online content–like an ebook or infographic–that highlights features of your campus. Capitalizing on seasonality will help wield the most engagement from consumers, or, in this case, prospective students.
Short-term strategies turn into short-term campaigns. Short-term campaigns are designed to prompt customers and prospects to act. To buy your product or engage your service. These campaigns may be determined by seasonal buying behaviors or purchasing cycles.
A sprint is related to agile strategy. Marketing teams often establish a specific goal for a given amount of time—be it a week, month, quarter, etc.—and sprint toward that goal. Creating a plethora of marketing material to support one goal over the course of a short period of time is an example of a sprint.
The act of building a strategy. This is vital to the success of any marketing campaign, as it reaffirms your goals and establishes a realistic timeline for the campaign. Without a strategy, a campaign will fail. Strategizing doesn’t have to just be the job of your in-house strategist; an important part of strategizing is holding meetings, brainstorming sessions, and—after the campaign has begun—analytics meetings to assess what worked well and what didn’t.
S.W.O.T. stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Strengths and weaknesses usually refer to your internal efforts, whereas opportunities and threats are related to external factors. For example, a strong competitor is a threat to your brand externally, but is not a weakness to your internal brand. When strategizing, it is important to conduct a S.W.O.T. analysis so you understand clearly the ways in which your company is performing well and the places that need improvement. Keep these in mind as you develop a marketing strategy, which will ultimately strengthen your brand as a whole.
Different from your strategy in that the consumer sees your tactics, whereas only your internal team and client see your strategy. Tactics are smaller, more practical actions executed every day. For example, tactics may include writing blog posts, sending tweets, replying to emails, or changing page titles.
A UVP is your unique value proposition; or, in other words, it is what sets your brand apart from the competition. A UVP is what makes your brand unique. Your UVP should typically be a one or two sentence phrase describing your offering to consumers. When developing a strategy, keep the brand’s UVP in mind to ensure all of your strategic efforts speak to this unique value.
As with every project you take on, it is important to always keep a vision in mind. Your vision is your ultimate goal; what does the end result look like? What does success look like? Be creative and be optimistic when establishing your vision, and work diligently through every step of the process to achieve it.
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