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By Stefan Pollack

It’s a no-brainer that a brand’s marketing efforts can make or break its success. It’s also a no-brainer that marketing efforts alone do not reap success.

It’s the plan, direction, adapting to change, and razor-sharp focus on audience differentiation and their preferences that makes an impact. Marketing efforts are built on flexibility, well-thought-through strategies, well-managed budgets, and clear problem identification, combined into taking the appropriate action.  

When executed successfully, significant companies can turn things around thanks to their marketing efforts. Just consider these two examples:

McDonald’s had the courage to revise its stale marketing strategy.

The fast-food giant struggled with declining sales and a negative image among young consumers. So McDonald’s turned its focus on young adults as its prime target audience and tailored its marketing efforts to that group.

It adopted social media, email, and content marketing to reach its target audience precisely. It also focused on building solid relationships with influencers and other partners to expand its reach. As a result, McDonald’s saw a staggering increase in sales and, more importantly, a shift in public perception.

And then there is Netflix, a company that initially struggled to compete with traditional cable television providers.

Netflix recognized that a more strategic digital marketing approach could help it turn around. It concentrated on social media, email, and content marketing and put a sharp focus on a specific target audience – binge-watchers – and then created original content to cater to their preferences. The result: Netflix successfully competed with traditional cable providers and became a leader in the streaming industry.

For a successful marketing effort, companies should follow these five steps:

1. Focus on a specific target audience and tailor their marketing efforts to that group

• Market research: Often overlooked or bypassed, this is crucial to identifying and understanding the needs, wants, and behaviors of a target audience. Tactics to provide valuable insights include surveys, focus groups, and interviews.

• Segmentation: It is wise to divide the target audience into smaller groups based on demographics, psychographics, and behavior. This allows for a more targeted approach to marketing.

• Personalization: Market research results can support personalizing the target audience’s messaging, content, and offers. This can be done through email marketing, social media, and personalized landing pages.

• Testing and Optimization: Test different marketing strategies, variables, and tactics with the target audience measure the results, and optimize efforts accordingly.

• Building solid relationships with the target audience: Companies can gain valuable insights and feedback from trusted relationships. A loyal audience can also increase word-of-mouth marketing and customer retention.

2. Embrace and adapt to new marketing strategies

• Social media marketing: Create a presence on various social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Share relevant content, engage with the audience, and use paid advertising to reach a larger audience.

• Email marketing: A carefully built email list can be valuable to reach and increasing subscribers. Use segmentation and automation to send relevant content to the right audience at the right time.

• Content marketing: Create valuable and informative content such as blog posts, videos, and infographics to attract and engage the target audience. Optimize the content for search engines and share it on various platforms.

3. Ensure a clear and well-aligned plan

• Define precise goals and objectives: Identify what the company wants to achieve with its marketing efforts. Prepare a comprehensive guide for all marketing efforts.

• Outline the target audience, strategies, tactics, budget, and metrics for measuring success.

• Assign roles and responsibilities with timelines. Ensure that everyone is clear on what is asked of them.

• Align all efforts all marketing efforts, including social media, email, content, and PR.

• Communicate regularly to all stakeholders to progress to stay on track.

4. Measure the marketing efforts’ effectiveness and adjust as necessary

• Set up tools such as Google Analytics, social media analytics, and email marketing software to track and measure the performance of the marketing efforts.

• Define key performance indicators (KPIs): Identify the most critical metrics that will indicate the success of the marketing efforts, such as website traffic, social media engagement, and conversion rates.

• Regularly review the data and analyze the performance of the marketing efforts. Identify any areas that are underperforming and areas that are performing well.

• Test and experiment: Test different strategies and tactics to determine the most effective. Use A/B testing to compare different campaign variations and measure their performance.

• Continuously optimize as necessary.

5. Focus on building solid relationships with influencers and other partners to expand reach

• Identify influencers: Research and identify influencers in the industry who align with the brand’s values and message.

• Reach out to influencers and initiate a conversation, exploring how a partnership would benefit both parties.

• Provide value to influencers through product discounts, exclusive access, or other incentives.

• Collaborate with influencers to create content, host events, or launch campaigns.

• Track and measure the success of collaborations and adjust as necessary.

• Build long-term relationships with influencers and other partners rather than one-off collaborations.

Some pitfalls to avoid when managing a brand’s marketing efforts

1. Lack of focus: Many companies try to target too many different audiences or markets simultaneously, which can dilute their message and make it more difficult for consumers to understand what the brand stands for.

2. Outdated strategies: Traditional marketing methods, such as print ads and billboards, are becoming less effective in today’s digital age as consumers turn increasingly to digital channels for information and entertainment. People spend more time online and less time-consuming newspapers, radio, and television.

3. Poor execution: Marketing strategies’ successes depend on execution.

4. Lack of appropriate budget: This can hamper any marketing campaign, no matter how creative. Many companies need more resources in which to invest.

5. Changes in consumer behavior: How consumers interact with brands and make purchasing decisions constantly evolves.

6. Increased competition: The importance of being mindful and informed about new technologies and platforms cannot be overstated.

7. Negative public perception: Staying in tune with public perceptions about the company can preemptively prevent a reputation-damaging crisis.

A cautionary thought: Effective marketing is not about spending the most money but about spending it ‘smart.’ A strong marketing strategy is about perseverance, consistency, keeping updated with the marketplace and demographic changes, and, most of all, staying adaptable.