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Most manufacturing marketers craft a marketing strategy for each new year. The “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2019—Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends” research report by the Content Marketing Institute found that 78 percent of survey respondents now have a content marketing strategy.

However, only 41 percent have documented their strategy. This is problematic, given the importance and benefits of having a documented marketing strategy. A documented marketing strategy can:

  • Align your entire team, and even those outside marketing such as subject matter experts and salespeople, around a common mission and established goals.
  • Define what success means for your marketing efforts and the metrics by which success is measured.
  • Help you prioritize your own resource allocations in terms of people, time, and budgets devoted to creating content and managing programs.
  • Help you respond quickly and intelligently to unexpected marketing opportunities or company/market changes that arise throughout the year.
  • Provide a basis on which to justify and defend marketing budgets.
  • Serve as an historical record and source of learning to improve your marketing strategy over time.

That’s a significant list of benefits for having a documented marketing strategy. But how do you create this document and what should go into it?

It’s Similar to a Business Plan

If you don’t yet have a documented marketing strategy for 2020, it’s time to get one written. There’s no single template to use, because every company’s needs are different. It may be helpful to think of your document as a business plan, especially if you need executive buy-in.

Most marketing strategy documents include some or all of the key components discussed below.

Start with Your Goals

Goals are statements of what you want to accomplish through your marketing strategy. Examples of goals might be to grow brand awareness, increase market share, generate qualified leads, enter new markets, or support new product launches, among others.

Your goals drive all other marketing decisions and serve as an arbitrator when you might be deciding between alternative programs, channels, content, etc. You always ask the question: What goal will this help us achieve?

Define Your Audience(s)

Who are you trying to reach through your marketing efforts? The best way to clearly identify audiences is to create buyer personas. Much more effective than vague definitions that include only title, industry and demographics, buyer personas are detailed descriptions of the different types of customers that you have, including their needs, motivations and influences. Buyer personas are essential aides in helping to product the right content. Here’s a helpful article on creating buyer personas.

Allocate Resources

Your documented strategy should outline the resources required to achieve your goals and fulfill your marketing strategy. These include people to create and design content, marketers to manage programs, and budgets. Who is on the marketing team? What secondary people are needed to support a successful marketing strategy (such as subject matter experts, website personnel, or your media partners)? Have you budgeted for key initiatives such as product launches or new market penetration?

Determine Metrics for Success

How will you measure the success of your marketing strategy? What metrics are most important? How will you define key performance indicators?

The answers will vary depending on your marketing tactics and channels, and will also be different for high level goals vs. campaign-specific goals. For example, you might measure the success of your overall email marketing by the number of qualified opportunities generated, but specific campaign measurements might include opens, clicks, shares, downloads, and conversions.

Be aware that measuring marketing ROI is not an exact science. The nature of your customers’ buying cycle can make it difficult to correlate sales to specific marketing channels. The industrial buy cycle is often long and complex, involving multiple stages, from needs assessment to comparison and evaluation, to a final purchasing decision. In the vast majority of cases, buyers will interact with your company’s content and brand many times and through multiple channels, often without contacting you, before they make a purchasing decision.

For these reasons, it’s best to track every interaction a prospect has with your company, because ultimately each touch contributes to a sale. For more on measurement and ROI, read the “2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit.”

Programs and Channels

The meat of your strategy is how you will execute it. Your documented strategy should include a list of marketing programs and channels you plan to use throughout the year.

In this era of digital media, few companies rely on just one or two channels. Rather, manufacturers need a mix of traditional and digital media to successfully connect with their target audience.

The top five channels that manufacturing marketers plan to use this year are email marketing using in-house lists, content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), tradeshows, and organic social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

How do your channels compare to others? Are your programs designed to meet the documented goals of your marketing strategy and the needs of your defined audiences?

Additional Resources

These two complimentary reports can help you develop and hone your marketing strategy, putting you on the path for success in 2020. Download them today:

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