Strategy. To many people strategy seems intangible.
It seems like something that companies either do right, or they do wrong.
Many people seem to think that strategies are just pulled out of thin air or generated by minds more brilliant than their own.
But the truth is, strategy is tangible.
And creating an effective strategy is a skill that any person can learn.
In this blog post, I am going to walk you through the method I use when creating strategies for clients of Outbound Creative. This is a method is something that you can go through on your own to build a sales and marketing strategy for your business.
Step 1: Define your strategic objectives
This step is the part that most people miss.
Too many entrepreneurs run their companies or marketing campaigns in a haphazard way. They implement on whatever exciting idea pops into their head at the time, but never stop to think about the objectives they are trying to accomplish.
The single greatest change you can make in your business is to define strategic objectives, and then evaluate all of your actions against them.
The first step to creating an effective strategy is to define those strategic objectives.
Sit down right now and write them out.
For the purposes of this exercise, focus on your sales and marketing strategy.
What strategic objectives do you want your marketing to accomplish?
Below are some common examples to get you going:
- To attract new opportunities
- To generate new revenue
- To appear as an expert
- To appear experienced
- To provide value at every interaction
- To appear professional, yet approachable
- To win new customers
- To get in the door with decision makers
- To set ourselves apart from the competition
- To clearly communicate the value we bring to our customers
- To come across in an authentic and genuine way
- To appear confident
- To start a relationship
- To attract new leads
- To create awareness of our brand
- To educate the prospect
- To attract the exact kind of clients we want to work with
- To not take up too much of the decision maker's time
These are just a handful of common strategic objectives for sales and marketing campaigns. For your particular business, you will most likely have many of these, as well as some that are specific to your business.
The first step is to identify your strategic objectives. Write them out, and then use them as a criteria for all strategy and planning in the future.
Step 2: Identify your assets
The next step in creating an effective strategy is to identify your assets.
What assets do you currently have in place that you can leverage to make your strategy even more effective?
These assets can take many shapes and forms. Some are physical things, while others are skills or strengths that you can use in your strategy. Make sure you write all of them out so that you can incorporate them into your strategy and make them even more effective.
Some examples of assets include:
- Books or Educational Content
- Corporate Literature
- Case Studies
- In-house talent
- SEO Rankings
- Trade Shows
- Direct Mail
- Social Media
These are just a handful of ‘assets’ that you may have to work with. Write out which ones are applicable to you. These assets can serve as a foundation of your sales and marketing strategy.
They give you a point to jump off from, and let you build on what you already have instead of trying to build something from scratch.
Step 3: Brainstorm solutions to your objectives based off of objectives and assets
The next step is to brainstorm. This can be done alone, or in a group environment.
My preferred method for brainstorming strategies is to create a mind map style layout.
In the middle, I start off by writing ‘Strategy for _______’.
Then I create a bubble off to the side for “Strategic Objectives”.
Surrounding that I write out each strategic objective that I have defined and use that as a criteria for all future brainstorming.
Then I write another bubble to the other side titled ‘Assets’.
Surrounding this I list off all of the assets I have. Then I begin to brainstorm off of each asset with whatever ideas that I have.
As I brainstorm ideas off of each asset, I constantly refer back to my ‘objectives’ and I evaluate each new idea against the strategic objectives.
After a while, when my brain runs dry on assets. I pop over to the objectives and look for any strategic objectives that I may still be missing. If I see any wholes, I begin brainstorming ways to accomplish that strategic objective and link those off of the objective.
I continue brainstorming off of my assets, and my objectives until I feel confident that I have enough ideas that achieve each of the strategic objectives.
Once I hit this point of satisfaction, then I generally take a breather and sleep on this for a night.
By putting your brain hard at work on this strategy, it’s common that many new ideas will present themselves to you over the next 24-48 hours. Don’t try to knock this whole process out in one day.
Below is an example of a mindmap (pardon my childish handwriting)
Step 4: Write out your ideas in detail and invite feedback
Next, write out all of your ideas in written form. Take them piece by piece, and elaborate on the details behind each idea.
I do this in the form of a Google Doc as it allows me to collaborate with my clients or other team members to further discuss each idea.
When you let other people put a critical eye to your ideas, they will start to see holes that you didn’t see before, or they will build off your ideas and improve them.
I highly encourage you to invite someone into your strategy process, even if you are a one man shop. Getting an outside opinion is extremely valuable in refining your strategy.
Step 5: Choose your best ideas and write an execution plan
The final step, is to pair down all of your ideas to the essential actions that will give you the most ROI for the least time invested. Figure out your 80/20. Figure out what actions will achieve your objectives, and yet are doable for you and your business.
This will mean leaving many great ideas out to dry, but don’t worry, you can always return to those later.
Choose the ideas that are the strongest, and then write a plan to implement them.
When I say write a plan, I mean it.
Write a detailed plan of who is doing what, when it is getting done and create a schedule.
Too many companies come up with grandiose marketing ideas, and then never take them past the idea phase.
As my father always said, if you are going to do something, do it right.
Don’t half ass it.
Write out a plan, set deadlines and stick to them.
Treat your internal marketing just like you would any other client project.
Don’t try to overcommit to something to big.
Choose something achievable, and then make it happen.
The bottom line
Define your strategic objectives.
Identify your assets.
Brainstorm solutions based off of your objectives and assets.
Turn those strategies into an executable plan.
And then turn that plan into action.
That is how you create an effective sales and marketing strategy for your company.