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7 Steps to Create a Complete Marketing Strategy in 2022

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7 Steps to Create a Complete Marketing Strategy in 2022

The truth is, keeping up with marketing trends could be a full-time job.

In 2022 alone, we’ve seen a major shift to short-form video content; the rise and fall of new platforms (looking at you, Meta); and the continuing impact of the global pandemic. In short, what worked for your marketing strategy in the past might not fly today.

To succeed in the fast-paced marketing world — and maintain a sense of relevance with your audience — it’s vital to stay ahead of the curve. 

To help ease some of that uncertainty, we’ve created this guide to show you step-by-step how to create a marketing strategy that leaves no stone unturned.

Let’s dive into the critical components of a complete marketing strategy in 2022, followed by some examples for inspiration.

The Importance of Customer-Driven Marketing Strategy Steps

A robust marketing strategy will reach your target audience – this includes those who have never heard of your brand all the way to repeat customers.

Without a defined strategy, you’ll essentially be throwing things to the wall to see what sticks. And it’s costing you cost, time, and resources.

A marketing strategy will:

  • Align your team to specific goals.
  • Help you tie your efforts to business objectives.
  • Allow you to identify and test what resonates with your target audience.

There are seven key steps to crafting a successful marketing strategy: Build your marketing plan, create your buyer personas, identify your goals, select the tools, review your existing resources, audit and plan media campaigns, and lastly, execute your strategy.

Let’s get into the details of each step in the next section. Or you can jump to the section you’re most interested in.

1. Build a marketing plan.

Wait, I have to make a plan for my strategy? What’s the difference?

Your marketing strategy provides an overview of the reasons why your marketing team will need certain resources, take certain actions, and set certain goals over the year. Your marketing plan is the specific actions you’ll take to achieve that strategy.

Not sure where to start? This free marketing plan template can help.

marketing-strategy-template-free

Download for Free

The right template can help you build a marketing plan that identifies your budget for the year, the initiatives your marketing organization needs to tackle, and the marketing channels you’ll use to implement those initiatives.

Plus, it’ll tie everything back to a business summary, to keep you aligned with overarching company goals.

2. Create buyer personas.

If you can’t define who your audience is in one sentence, now’s your chance to do it. A buyer persona is a snapshot of your ideal customer.

For example, a store like Macy’s could define a buyer persona as Budgeting Belinda, a stylish working-class woman in her 30s living in a suburb, looking to fill her closet with designer deals at low prices.

With this description, Macy’s Marketing department can picture Budgeting Belinda and work with a clear definition in mind.

Buyer personas have critical demographic and psychographic information, including age, job title, income, location, interests, and challenges. Notice how Belinda has all of those attributes in her description.

You don’t have to create your buyer persona with a pen and paper. In fact, HubSpot offers a free template you can use to make your own (and it’s really fun).

You can also use a platform like Versium, which helps you identify, understand and reach your target audience through data and artificial intelligence.

Buyer personas should be at the core of building your strategy.

3. Identify your goals.

Your marketing strategy goals should reflect your business goals.

For example, if one of your business goals is to have 300 people attend your annual conference in three months, your goal as a marketer should be along the lines of boosting online registration by 10% at the end of the month to stay on track.

Other marketing goals might be to increase brand awareness or generate high-quality leads. You might also want to grow or maintain thought leadership in your industry or increase customer value.

Whatever your goals, identify what they are and how your marketing organization can work to achieve them over the next year.

4. Select the appropriate tools.

Once you have your goals identified, make sure you have the right tools to measure the success of those goals.

Online software like social media schedulers gives you analytics to help you keep track of what your audience likes and doesn’t. Alternatively, you might consider Google Analytics to measure blog and web page performance.

Additionally, make your goals SMART – to do so, take a look at How to Write a SMART Goal [+ Free SMART Goal Template].

Here are a few tools that can help you track and measure the success of your marketing goals:

HubSpot Marketing Hub

The Marketing Hub allows you to consolidate all of your marketing tools into one centralized platform.

hubspot marketing hub dashboard

Too often, you’ll find a tool that’s powerful but not very easy to use. With this tool, you can attract users with blogs, SEO, and live chat tools. You can then convert and nurture those leads through marketing automation, the landing page builder, and lead tracking features.

With custom reporting and built-in analytics, you can analyze your data and plan out your next move. Plus, HubSpot Marketing Hub integrates with over 500 tools.

Pricing: Free; Starter, $45/month; Professional, $800/month; Enterprise, $3,200/month.

Trello

trello-for-marketing-planning

Trello keeps your marketing team on track and openly communicating about the projects they’re working on. Create boards for individual campaigns, editorial calendars, or quarterly goals.

Built-in workflows and automation capabilities keep communication streamlined, and simplicity keeps your marketing team focused on the work that matters.

Pricing: Free; Standard Class, $5/month; Premium Class, $10/month for 100 users; Enterprise, $17.50/month for 250 users.

TrueNorth

truenorth-softwareTrueNorth is a marketing management platform built to help you hit your marketing goals. Built specifically for marketing teams, TrueNorth turns your marketing strategy into a visual projection of your growth, which is used to create monthly milestones that help you stay on track.

One of the key benefits of TrueNorth is that it centralizes all of your ideas, campaigns, and results in one place, with everything tied back to your goal.

Pricing: $115/month (free for 30 days).

Monday.com

monday.com hubspot integrationEverything on Monday.com starts with a board or visually driven table. Create and customize workflows for your team and keep groups, items, sub-items, and updates synced in real-time.

You can also transform data pulled from timeline and Gantt views to track your projects on Monday.com and ensure deadlines have been met. Plus, with more than 40 integrations — from SurveyMonkey to Mailchimp and, of course, HubSpot — you can visualize your data and ensure your whole company is collaborating.

Pricing: Basic, $8/month/seat; Standard, $10/month/seat; Pro, $16/month/seat; Enterprise, contact for pricing.

SEMrush

semrush dashboardSEO continues to be a huge factor in the successful ranking of your website.

SEMrush allows you to run a technical SEO audit, track daily rankings, analyze your competitor’s SEO strategy, research millions of keywords, and even source ideas for earning more organic traffic.

But the benefits don’t stop at SEO. Use SEMRush for PPC, building and measuring an effective social media strategy, content planning, and even market research.

Pricing: Pro, $119/month; Guru, $229/month; Business, $449/month.

Buzzsumo

buzzsumo marketing strategy tool

BuzzSumo allows you to analyze data to enhance and lead your marketing strategy, all while exploring high-performing content in your industry.

Use the platform to identify influencers who may help your brand reach, monitor comments, and find trends to make the most of every turn.

As your needs evolve, you can also leverage their crisis management and video marketing tools.

Pricing: Plus, $179/month; Large, $299/month; Enterprise, contact for pricing.

Crazy Egg

crazyegg website optimizationNeed to optimize your website this year? Consider getting started with Crazy Egg. You’ll be able to identify “attention hotspots” on your product pages, track ad campaign traffic on your site, and understand if shoppers are clicking where you want them to.

You can even make sure your “Buy Now” buttons are in the best place.

Crazy Egg also offers recordings, A/B testing, and more to help ensure your website is offering the best user experience.

Pricing: Basic, $24/month; Standard, $49/month; Plus, $99/month; Pro, $249/month; Enterprise, contact for pricing.

5. Review your media.

Decide what you already have in your arsenal that can help you create your strategy. To streamline this process, think of your assets in three categories – paid, owned, and earned media.

  • Paid media means any channel you spend money on to attract your target audience. This includes offline channels like television, direct mail, and billboard to online channels like social media, search engines, and websites.
  • Owned Media refers to any of the media your marketing team has to create: pictures, videos, podcasts, ebooks, infographics, etc.
  • Earned media is another way to say user-generated content. Shares on social media, tweets about your business, and photos posted on Instagram mentioning your brand are all examples of earned media.

Gather your materials in each media type and consolidate them in one location to have a clear vision of what you have and how you can integrate them to maximize your strategy.

For example, if you already have a blog that’s rolling out weekly content in your niche (owned media), you might consider promoting your blog posts on Twitter (paid media), which customers might then reTweet (earned media). Ultimately, that will help you create a better, more well-rounded marketing strategy.

If you have resources that don’t fit into your goals, nix them. This is a great time to clean house and identify gaps in your materials.

6. Audit and plan media campaigns.

Cleaning house segues straight into this step. Now, you must decide which content is going to help you.

Focus on your owned media and marketing goals. For instance, will updating the CTAs at the end of your blog posts help you increase RSVPs to your event?

Next, look at your buyer personas. Let’s say you work for a video editing software company. If one of your persona’s challenges is adding clean sound effects to their videos but you don’t have any content that reflects that, make a 15-second demo video for Instagram to show how great your product is at solving that challenge.

Finally, create a content creation plan. The plan should include topic clusters, goals, format, and channel for each piece of content. Be sure to include which challenge it’s solving for your buyer persona.

For ideas on content creation or a more in-depth look at how to create a content plan, check out our post, The Ultimate Guide to Content Creation.

7. Bring it to fruition.

At this point, your market research and planning should help you visualize how your strategy will be executed – and by which teams.

The final step is to bring that all together and assign actions to your plans.

Create a document that maps out the steps you need to take to execute your campaign. In other words, define your strategy.

Think long-term when creating this document. A standard strategy document is 12 months. This structured timeline should be the home base for your strategic marketing efforts.

To paint an example, let’s go back to the video software company.

Maybe in January, you will launch a software update that improves the exportation process for users. In April, you want to publish an ebook that explains editing terms to your buyer personas, and in September, you plan to launch an integration with other software.

Remember, your digital strategy is unique to your business, so the document should be as well. As long as the strategy includes the pertinent details outlined in previous sections, you’ll be set.

Now that we’ve explored the critical steps of a complete marketing strategy, let’s look at some “Why didn’t I think of that?” strategies to inspire your own.

Examples of Successful Marketing Strategies

1. Regal Movies

Digital strategy: Owned media

Regal Movies took the Halloween spirit to a new level, even renaming its Twitter account to reflect the spirit of the season. This “Monster Madness” poll is a fun, interactive way to get followers invested in Regal’s content:

regal movies' owned media

Image Source

Regal’s tweet is an example of owned media because the company was in full control of the answers followers gave (and, apparently, American Werewolf didn’t stand a chance).

Regal effectively kept true to their brand by using only classic movies in their poll while still putting a modern spin on it.

This is also a good example of how retweets don’t necessarily equal success. While four retweets aren’t that big of a deal, check out the votes: 461. That means there were over 400 interactions with a single tweet.

2. La Croix

Digital strategy: User-generated content, earned media

User-generated content is one of the best ways to gain traction in your strategy.

It demonstrates your appreciation for loyal customers, builds community, and also incentivizes other users’ to promote your products for the chance at a similar shout-out.

Plus, sometimes the content your brand loyalists create is really, really good.

lacroix

Image Source

In this case, the consumer is praising the brand’s product. Doesn’t get better than a fantastic review like that.

3. Small Girls PR

Digital strategy: Event marketing

Wait, is that Keke Palmer?

olay

Image Source

Small Girls PR is a boutique PR company based in New York, and one of the company’s talents is throwing amazing events for their clients, like Olay. This event recap carousel on Instagram is an effective event marketing example, as it boosts awareness for your brand and offers social proof by featuring a public figure.

4. Superside

Digital strategy: Paid media

Design agency Superside launched an Instagram ad to promote a lead magnet: Their digital ad design guide. While the brand may have created the guide specifically for paid promotions, it’s also possible that they repurposed a high-performing blog post into a downloadable ebook.

marketing strategy paid media example

In this case, all they had to do was repackage their current content, build an ad around it with creative assets, and run it.

In previous sections, we discussed the power of leveraging multiple forms of media in your marketing strategy. This is a great example of it.

5. Target

Digital strategy: Paid media, Twitter cards

If you’ve got the budget for paid media, take full advantage of it.

Paid media is when you pay social channels, like Twitter, to promote your content on their site. By doing this, your content reaches new audiences you might not be able to reach organically:

target marketing strategy example

Image Source

This inclusive ad from Target about fall shopping uses Twitter cards to promote the brand and make shopping easy with the click of a button.

More social channels are offering ways for shoppers to purchase in-app or close to it, driving sales and boosting exposure for brands.

What to Expect After Following Your Marketing Process Steps

Ultimately, creating a complete marketing strategy isn’t something that can happen overnight. It takes time, hard work, and dedication to ensure you’re reaching your ideal audience, whenever and wherever they want to be reached.

Stick with it (and use some of the resources we’ve included in this post), and over time, research and customer feedback will help you refine your strategy to ensure you’re spending most of your time on the marketing channels your audience cares most about.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2019. It has been updated for freshness and accuracy.

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Marketing Team Reorgs: Why So Many and How To Survive

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Marketing Team Reorgs: Why So Many and How To Survive

How long has it been since your marketing team got restructured? 

Wearing our magic mind-reading hat, we’d guess it was within the last two years. 

Impressed by the guess? Don’t be.  

Research from Marketing Week’s 2024 Career and Salary Survey finds that almost half of marketing teams restructured in the last 12 months. (And the other half probably did it the previous year.) 

Why do marketing teams restructure so often? Is this a new thing? Is it just something that comes with marketing? What does it all mean for now and the future? 

CMI chief strategy advisor Robert Rose offers his take in this video and the summary below. 

Marketing means frequent change 

Marketing Week’s 2024 Career and Salary Survey finds 46.5% of marketing teams restructured in the last year — a 5-percentage point increase over 2023 when 41.4% of teams changed their structure. 

But that’s markedly less than the 56.5% of marketing teams that restructured in 2022, which most likely reflected the impact of remote work, the fallout of the pandemic, and other digital marketing trends. 

Maybe the real story isn’t, “Holy smokes, 46% of businesses restructured their marketing last year.” The real story may be, “Holy smokes, only 46% of businesses restructured their marketing.” 

Put simply, marketing teams are now in the business of changing frequently. 

It raises two questions.  

First, why does marketing experience this change? You don’t see this happening in other parts of the business. Accounting teams rarely get restructured (usually only if something dramatic happens in the organization). The same goes for legal or operations. Does marketing change too frequently? Or do other functions in business not change enough? 

Second, you may ask, “Wait a minute, we haven’t reorganized our marketing teams in some time. Are we behind? Are we missing out? What are they organizing into? Or you may fall at the other end of the spectrum and ask, “Are we changing too fast? Do companies that don’t change so often do better? 

OK, that’s more than one question, but the second question boils down to this: Should you restructure your marketing organization? 

Reorganizing marketing 

Centralization emerged as the theme coming out of the pandemic. Gartner reports (registration required) a distinct move to a fully centralized model for marketing over the last few years: “(R)esponsibilities across the marketing organization have shifted. Marketing’s sole responsibilities for marketing operations, marketing strategy, and marketing-led innovation have increased.”  

According to a Gartner study, marketing assuming sole responsibility for marketing operations, marketing innovation, brand management, and digital rose by double-digit percentage points in 2022 compared to the previous year.  

What does all that mean for today in plainer language? 

Because teams are siloed, it’s increasingly tougher to create a collaborative environment. And marketing and content creation processes are complex (there are lots of people doing more small parts to creative, content, channel management, and measurement). So it’s a lot harder these days to get stuff done if you’re not working as one big, joined-up team. 

Honestly, it comes down to this question: How do you better communicate and coordinate your content? That’s innovation in modern marketing — an idea and content factory operating in a coordinated, consistent, and collaborative way. 

Let me give you an example. All 25 companies we worked with last year experienced restructuring fatigue. They were not eager creative, operations, analytics, media, and digital tech teams champing at the bit for more new roles, responsibilities, and operational changes. They were still trying to settle into the last restructuring.  

What worked was fine-tuning a mostly centralized model into a fully centralized operational model. It wasn’t a full restructuring, just a nudge to keep going. 

In most of those situations, the Gartner data rang true. Marketing has shifted to get a tighter and closer set of disparate teams working together to collaborate, produce, and measure more efficiently and effectively.  

As Gartner said in true Gartner-speak fashion: “Marginal losses of sole responsibility (in favor of shared and collaborative) were also reported across capabilities essential for digitally oriented growth, including digital media, digital commerce, and CX.” 

Companies gave up the idea of marketing owning one part of the customer experience, content type, or channel. Instead, they moved into more collaborative sharing of the customer experience, content type, or channel.  

Rethinking the marketing reorg 

This evolution can be productive. 

Almost 10 years ago, Carla Johnson and I wrote about this in our book Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing. We talked about the idea of building to change: 

“Tomorrow’s marketing and communications teams succeed by learning to adapt — and by deploying systems of engagement that facilitate adaptation. By constantly building to change, the marketing department builds to succeed.” 

We surmised the marketing team of the future wouldn’t be asking what it was changing into but why it was changing. Marketing today is at the tipping point of that. 

The fact that half of all marketing teams restructure and change every two years might not be a reaction to shifting markets. It may just be how you should think of marketingas something fluid that you build and change into whatever it needs to be tomorrow, not something you must tear down and restructure every few years.  

The strength in that view comes not in knowing you need to change or what you will change into. The strength comes from the ability and capacity to do whatever marketing should. 

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:  

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute 

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

2. Understand topical authority: Keywords vs. entities

Google has been talking about topical authority for a long time, and in Discover, it is completely relevant. Traditional SEO includes the use of keywords to position your web pages for a specific search, but the content strategy in Discover should be based on entities, i.e., concepts, characters, places, topics… everything that a Knowledge Panel can have. It is necessary to know in which topics Google considers we have more authority and relevance in order to talk about them.

3. Avoid clickbait in titles

“Use page titles that capture the essence of the content, but in a non-clickbait fashion.” This is the opening sentence that describes how headlines should be in Google’s documentation. I always say that it is not about using clickbait but a bit of creativity from the journalist. Generating a good H1 is also part of the job of content creation.

Google also adds:

“Avoid tactics to artificially inflate engagement by using misleading or exaggerated details in preview content (title, snippets, or images) to increase appeal, or by withholding crucial information required to understand what the content is about.”

“Avoid tactics that manipulate appeal by catering to morbid curiosity, titillation, or outrage.

Provide content that’s timely for current interests, tells a story well, or provides unique insights.”

Do you think this information fits with what you see every day on Google Discover? I would reckon there were many sites that did not comply with this and received a lot of traffic from Discover.

With the last core updates in 2023, Google was extremely hard on news sites and some niches with content focused on Discover, directly affecting E-E-A-T. The impact was so severe that many publishers shared drastic drops in Search Console with expert Lily Ray, who wrote an article with data from more than 150 publishers.

4. Images are important

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. If you look at your Discover feed, you’ll see most of the images catch your attention. They are detailed shots of delicious food, close-ups of a person’s face showing emotions, or even images where the character in question does not appear, such as “the new manicure that will be a trend in 2024,” persuading you to click.

Google’s documentation recommends adding “high-quality images in your content, especially large images that are more likely to generate visits from Discover” and notes important technical requirements such as images needing to be “at least 1200 px wide and enabled by the max-image-preview:large setting.” You may also have found that media outlets create their own collages in order to have images that stand out from competitors.

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

One of the most important parts of having a website is making sure your audience can find your site (and find what they’re looking for).

The good news is that Google Search Essentials, formerly called Google Webmaster Guidelines, simplifies the process of optimizing your site for search performance.

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